3 Reasons for Documenting Your KPI Process

by Stacey Barr |

Much of the time and effort that goes into measuring performance is rework. We rethink why we’re measuring, we rethink what we’re measuring, and we rethink how we’re measuring. Sometimes this rethinking is important. But most of the time it’s complete waste.

A lot of the rethinking of why, what and how we are measuring is caused by a failure to remember our decisions about these things in the first place.

And the failure to remember our decisions about why, what and how we are measuring can be remedied by something very simple: documenting!

There are three very lovely benefits to documenting your performance measurement process.

BENEFIT #1: Remember your choices (and avoid running around in circles)

Measures should be designed very deliberately to monitor specific performance results. Your performance results are derived from your strategic or operational goals or objectives.

If you don’t document which measures relate to which performance results, you’ll be confused later on when you try to use those measures. You’ll befuddle yourself with questions like “what is this measure supposed to be telling me?”

TIP: In PuMP, we document which measure belongs to which result by visually linking them in a Results Map.

Usually there is a dialogue involved in choosing a specific measure for a performance result. In this dialogue, you consider potential measures, you evaluate them in respect of the performance result, and then you choose the best one based on it’s relevance and feasilibility. This dialogue should be documented too.

TIP: In PuMP, we document the measure design dialogue in a Measure Design template based on a 5-step technique.

Don’t stop there. Documenting the calculation rules for each measure will make sure you have a single version of the truth when your measures are reported and used.

TIP: In PuMP, we use a Performance Measure Definition Dictionary to ensure that each measure has a uniquely detailed formula, data requirements, ownership and more.

BENEFIT #2: Retain ideas for future (and save time reinventing the wheel)

One of the by-products of Measure Design is often a list of potential measures that might still be useful, but for a different or future performance result.

Another by-product is a list of measures that would be incredibly awesome for the performance results you have, but you just don’t yet have the means and wherewithall to get the data.

Capture these by-product potential measures in your Performance Measure Definition Dictionary and flag them for review when your next strategic planning cycle comes around. You’ll have another chance to consider their feasibility then, without reinventing the wheel.

BENEFIT #3: Make your thinking visible to others (and make buy-in easier)

I’ve seen many people who feel cynical about a measure do a complete 180 degree turn when they see for the first time the rationale for choosing that measure.

When people can see which performance result the measure is intended for, when they see which other measures you considered and why you rejected them, and then see how you’re intending to use the measure you chose, buying in becomes a breeze.

TIP: In PuMP, we use a Measure Gallery as a way to socialise new performance measures so that people have a chance to ‘see’ your thinking behind the measures you chose. Buy-in is an overwhelmingly frequent result.

What to document in your KPI process…

There are a few very critical things to document in your performance measurement process, which have the greatest impact on reducing rework and wasted effort:

  • the performance results that need to be measured
  • measure designs showing the thinking behind the choice (and rejection) of measures
  • measure definitions that make sure you have single version of the truth for each measure you choose

And while you’ll get by without them, there are also a few additional useful things to document in your performance measurement process too, for extra rigour:

  • ideas for improvement initiatives that inevitably find their way into your measure design process
  • feedback from stakeholders about other ideas to consider
  • changes you make to measure designs
  • data definitions to ensure the right data in the right format is avaiable for your measures
  • report definitions or specifications that group the right measures together for the right audiences

Don’t underestimate the impact of clear documentation on the amount of time you’ll save in measuring performance. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


What do you document about your KPI or performance measurement process? What will you start documenting, now?

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