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Measuring SMART KPIs for success

Measuring SMART KPIs for success

If you have a strategy for business growth, chances are you’ve already set a series of key performance indicators (KPIs). And if you did it right, you made them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).

But KPIs aren't just a set-and-forget strategy. You need to maintain them when they are in place and know what to do if your employees aren't meeting them. Here are some steps to help track your progress so your KPIs continue to support your business growth and employee engagement.

Keep track

The ‘measurable’ pillar is one of the key elements in any successful strategy – you can't manage what you can't measure. Once you’ve set your KPIs, it is important to monitor them to measure success and identify improvement areas.

Harnessing data about your business and customers will help you uncover the rate at which you are meeting – or failing to meet – your KPIs and allow you to make adjustments. Consider whether you need software or manpower to do this. You may need to dedicate resources to monitoring your KPIs, but it’s worth it.

Using a performance dashboard is a popular way to keep track of business targets, but it requires resources to set up and some knowledge to monitor.

Also track your KPIs continually, not just at the end of the KPI cycle. For example, if a KPI for your team is to increase website page views by 15 per cent month on month, then look at these numbers daily or weekly, not just at month’s end. If you're training for a marathon, you don’t wait until race day to work out how fit you are.

Stay focused

Keep asking the question: are my KPIs working for my critical success factors (CSFs)? CSFs are growth areas that are vital to the survival of your business. Though you can probably think of dozens of potential success factors for your business, only a few of them will be critical, and therein lies your focus.

When you start monitoring progress and seeing improvements, you might be tempted to throw more goals and incentives into the mix. Instead, stay focused on what you really need to boost your business and put more energy into less.

An often-cited example of this is British Airways’ plan in the 1980s to place all its focus on a single objective: to keep arrivals and departures on time. It may seem simple, but the only way the company achieved the KPI related to this CSF was by stripping away other less-critical ones.

Get SMARTer

Once you've implemented your SMART KPI plan, the next steps are to 'evaluate' and ‘re-evaluate'. With ongoing data collection and a performance management strategy in place, you should have everything you need to determine whether your KPIs are still working for your business and your employees.

Your evaluation should take into account whether each KPI needs changing. Were you ambitious enough with your targets? Are they setting you apart from the crowd? Are you focusing on the right critical success factors? The answers to these questions will allow you to adjust accordingly.

You should also assess the impact your KPIs have on staff – are they engaged with the goals or do they feel overworked? Touch base with people and open avenues for feedback.

Maintain the process of performance monitoring with ongoing evaluation and tweaking. If you are at a point where you are starting to hit targets and see some growth in your focus areas, this approach will help you improve results over time.

Lastly, give it time. Changes and growth in businesses of all sizes are unlikely to happen overnight. But if you follow the SMARTER principles, you should see results.

KPIs are only part of the puzzle. Learn why a supportive workplace will help you improve your business.

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