Key performance indicator

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a core metric used by a business to monitor its progress toward achieving key goals and financial outcomes. KPIs will vary by industry, due to differences in their operational and financial structures. Among the more common KPIs related to finances are a firm's gross margin, net profit, current ratio, and debt to equity ratio. KPIs related to operations are more varied. For example, a warehouse could measure fulfillment days, while a retail store could measure period-to-period changes in sales,  a website could measure page views, a human resources department could track gender diversity, a call center could measure employee turnover, and a hospital could track emergency room wait times.

Different functions of a business may have different KPIs. For example, the sales manager may be most concerned with changes in the sales backlog, while the production manager focuses on the customer order fulfillment rate, and the customer service manager deals with the number of customer complaints settled on the first contact, as well as the number of customers who hang up while on hold. Further, the marketing manager may monitor the acquisition cost of each incremental customer gained.

A business analytics software package may be used to collect the information from around a business that is needed to calculate its KPIs, and presents up-to-date results to management through a dashboard that is available on their computers.

KPIs are closely monitored by a management team, which should take action if a KPI is not in line with expectations. Over time, the goals of a business may change, so that management decides to replace its KPIs with new ones. If so, the performance monitoring systems of the business should be adjusted to refocus employee attention on the new KPIs.

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