How to document the rationale for your choice of KPIs

May 22, 2012 by Stacey Barr

Questions like “Why did you choose that KPI?” and “Why didn’t you choose this KPI?” and “What were we thinking?!” shouldn’t be answered with “Um, I dunno!”

Without discipline, lots of things can get out of control. Our weight, our diaries, our addictions, our homes, our children. And without disclipine, performance measurement gets out of control too.

Part of the discipline needed to make performance measurement a successful and productive use of time is to document your decisions along the measurement process. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Document your interpretation of the performance results implied by your goals and objectives.

Unless you have a very clear, unambiguous understanding of the goals or objectives you need to measure, before you look for measures, you’ll end up with irrelevant or weak measures.

Document the specific performance results implied by each of your goals or objectives, using very clear and specific and uncomplicated words.

Document your measure design and selection decisions.

It’s too easy to jump to brainstorming measures and just pick the most popular ones, or those easiest to measure.

Document the potential measures that you consider for each performance result, along with your ratings of relevance to the result and feasibility to implement, and how those ratings were used to select your final measures.

Document your measure implementation rules.

Don’t leave it to chance. If you allow room to make assumptions about how to calculate your measures, which data to use, and how to interpret it, you have almost guaranteed you won’t be measuring what you intended.

Document all the necessary details to make it crystal clear to analysts exactly how they should bring each measure to life.

TAKE ACTION: Make sure you have a way to document your interpretations of the performance results implied by your goals, the range of potential measures you considered, how you chose the final selection of measures, and how each selected measure should be implemented. With PuMP, we do this by using 3 templates: the Results Map, Measure Design tables and Measure Definition dictionaries.

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  1. In fact for any process to mistake-proofed, WHY- and for that matter, even WHY-NOTs – for every WHAT, HOW, WHEN, HOW MUCH must be given as much thought as possible during the stages of design, implementation as well measurement of performance.
    Indeed, it needs to be borne in to consideration that measurement is not for the sake of only improving the efficiency and /or effectiveness of the process, per se. Measurements have to be so created that they also provide the much needed front-glass view of the drive.
    From, all these considerations, the importance of writing down all thoughts and every aspect of the thought process would not only help to cross-check the results of the measurements w.r.t. the rationale of the thought –process, but would also be a source of input for further improvements in the process and its measurements as well as application of the results to the process of subsequent decision-making.
    The documentation also helps in far better communications to the stakeholders about the process measurement design, train on the implementation and explain the importance of the results to those who are going to use the results.

  2. Stacey Barr says:

    Ashok, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m curious about your “front-glass view of the drive” comment.

    If I have interpreted that comment correctly, I would respond by saying that any measure used for managing the day to day decisions is not, in my view, a performance measure, but more just information to support everyday decisions. Performance measures, in my mind, are different. They are specifically about helping you work ON the business, not just IN the business (as the “front-glass” measures help with).

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