Aligning KPI, Business Rules and Decisions

Many businesses struggle with identifying their key performance indicators, from just performance indicators, and then reducing the number of KPI to those 3-4 that should be the primary focus at a particular time. They also fail to add one critical component to their KPI schedule that makes the difference as to whether performance to those KPI targets is met. Let’s start off with looking at how KPI should be selected and arranged in a logical hierarchy.

A KPI is a key measure that is linked directly to a strategic outcome. With a fast moving market, strategies can change significantly more often than just ten years ago. This means that KPI must also change and be monitored using a transparent performance management system. The key in selecting and filtering KPI are the decisions that the organization makes, and which of those decisions are most critical at any one time.

There are effectively three kinds of decisions made in any organization:

  1. Strategic decisions – these are the small group of ‘big’ decisions, made by the small executive group, that involve big investments, with significant outcomes. For instance, developing a new product line to attract a new market or acquiring a competitor.
  2. Tactical decisions – those decisions made by a larger, but still contained group of managers that determine exactly how the strategic decision will be put into play, in terms of approach and offering. For instance, a product manager making decisions around a pricing schedule and launch bonuses relating to the new product line.
  3. Operational decisions – the business decisions made by many people, on a daily basis, that have a smaller business impact when measured independently, but when aggregated with multiple operational decisions add up to a lot of value. For instance, a sales person may offer an additional discount to add leverage to a significant account to sign up to the new product.

Using the above example, the new product group, the executives will be making strategic decisions around meeting EBIT targets, the product manager will have KPI focused around profitability and portfolio contribution to EBIT, and the sales person will be tracking to sales targets related to account revenue and profit. If this discount was offered to his entire account portfolio, the impact on profitability and EBIT contribution could be significant, and could drive decreased performance to KPI up through operational and strategic levels. And this is where the critical missing component comes in.

KPI’s must have business rules attached. Business rules help to define how performance to a KPI must be implemented, and will in this case restrict the offering of additional discounts to drive revenue at the expense of profit. Implementing KPI without business rules definition is a common occurrence in businesses, and accounts for many instances of targets not being met. This is the reason that The Logical Organization focuses very much on decision making when defining its business intelligence strategy.

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