How Has COVID-19 Changed Performance Measurement?

by Stacey Barr |

The COVID-19 crisis has changed so much, but how it changed performance measurement might come as a surprise!

A bar chart of the levels of importance of KPIs after COVID-19

People are always telling me they don’t do proper performance measurement because it’s not urgent, there’s not enough buy-in, and it’s hard to get the data. When a crisis comes along and puts even more strain on an organisation, I had therefore assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic would have driven most organisations to put performance measurement on the backburner.

To test my assumption, and to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted the performance measurement landscape, I ran a quick study of our Measure Up and PuMP communities. And the results surprised me.

Let’s take a look at 3 interesting findings about how COVID-19 has changed performance measurement:

How many organisations have changed their KPIs because of COVID-19?

With a crisis so far-reaching and long-lasting as this pandemic, wouldn’t you expect that organisations would dramatically change what they measure? I certainly expected that. But as it turns out, only 18% of organisations surveyed had any significant change to what they measure, as a consequence of COVID-19.

How has the importance of performance measurement changed since COVID-19?

About 95% of organisations surveyed are treating measurement at least as importantly as before the pandemic. And nearly half say it’s more important than before. That’s a surprise I was happy to have!

What are the new performance measurement struggles COVID-19 has created?

For the 20 years or so before the pandemic, there were a bunch of KPI struggles that continually top the list. What’s interesting is that two struggles have since moved from lower in the list, up into the top 5: the struggle of getting the data for performance measures, and the struggle of getting senior leadership support for measuring performance.

What are the new priorities for performance measurement from COVID-19?

Because a crisis demands our resources and time, the measures we focus on should be those that help us solve the biggest problems we have, whether or not the crisis was the cause. And to solve these problems, we need faster information for these fewer measures. There are 3 priorities for performance measurement now, that can help this to happen:



The role and purpose of performance measurement is at least as important during a crisis as it is in more stable times. It’s about telling us how far we are from our goals, and whether our actions are moving us closer to those goals. It’s the goals that a crisis will influence, not the measures.

In a crisis, we need the information from our measures faster. We can’t afford to waste time measuring bad things or measuring things badly.

We now need to be better at getting focused with what we measure, and letting our measures focus us on what matters most of all.


A crisis, like COVID, doesn’t change the role of measurement, but it has made it more important and has increased the urgency for measuring the right things faster. [tweet this]

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