Achieving your goals and finding new opportunities using KPIs and Stats
What are KPIs?
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable metric (or set of metrics) that demonstrates your progress towards a particular goal, for example, if I wanted to have 10 people visit my blog daily, a KPI I would measure would be the number of unique visitors my blog gets on a daily basis. The closer the KPIs get to my goal of 10 daily visitors, the more I go towards achieving my goal. Now that you know what KPIs are ...
When should you start measuring your KPIs?
A KPI indicates the performance towards a defined goal. Without a goal, a KPI is just a number without meaning. So before you start measuring KPIs, you should figure out what goal you want to achieve. Then you can go and figure out what metrics are indicators of performance (KPIs!). I recommend making a list of goals (5 is a great number to go for) and then committing to achieving at least 3 of those 5 goals by the end of your defined period. If you accomplish 3 of your goals, you've hit your target, and then there's also the potential to go above and beyond since you have 2 other goals that you can accomplish.
Once you have your goals set, then you can determine which KPIs you'd want to measure. You must have clear KPIs that will determine if you are making progress towards your goals. Knowing which, and how many KPIs to measure is often the hardest part and requires a delicate balancing act. Have too little KPIs and you won't have the right amount of information to get meaningful insight into your progress. Have too many KPIs and now you have too much information and are prone to get confused or misunderstand the KPIs. A common mistake when deciding on KPIs is to list actions taken as a metric, for example, “increase the number of blogs I have on my website”. Instead, KPIs should be measurements that will tell you how well you are doing towards achieving your goal, such as “total number of blogs on my website”. After you've decided upon the KPIs you will measure to determine your goal progression. It would be wise to record the initial KPI numbers before you start making any changes. This is particularly useful for the before and after comparisons you'll need to make once you reach the end of your time period.
Why you should care more about KPIs!
I find that KPIs, while useful for a variety of reasons, are important for the following reasons: they measure progress over time, they help easily identify when you're going off track, and they provide you with useful information to solve potential problems. The team I'm currently working with at Harled has been doing really amazing work so far. We push out new features that greatly benefit admins and general users and we fix up a variety of pesky bugs that negatively affect the user experience. However, we've been "goal-less" in the sense that we had not defined any specific goals or were not measuring any specific KPIs to determine our progress. So when we were asked how the platform improved, of course we'd talk about the features and fixes we've implemented, but didn't have any concrete numbers to prove that the work we did improved the platform. Have any new visitors visited the pages? Has user interaction increased? Did our user retention rate increase? These were questions that we did not consider when we started off, we were focusing more so on completing the features and bug fixes instead of understanding how they will impact the platform and what KPIs we'd need to record to measure that impact.
KPIs are proof that the new features and bug fixes that you push out are making a difference, if it's positive then that means you're on the right track and should keep going strong, if it's negative then that means you know to make adjustments right away.
It's also a pretty good tool for bragging, imagine saying “Feature X I pushed out last week increased our platform's user interaction by 125%”
Don't forget to show the Stats some love too!
Now I'm sure you're probably thinking, what's the difference between stats and KPIs? Stats are measurements that are usually loosely tied to specific goals. That being the case they aren't as important or helpful as KPIs, but are still valuable as they provide context and have the potential to open up new opportunities.
While I was querying through the database to find some common user flows in our application, I was also checking on a few stats and KPIs to better familiarize myself with the database tables, Ruby on Rails queries, and get some cool stats to get some insights on our application. I happened to pull some stats on Power users in our application, these are users who often interacted with specific sections of the application (this included those who viewed many pages and those who engaged often). Afterwards our team decided that since we know who the Power users are and we could contact them easily, we should have an interview with them! What better way to get feedback on our application than asking the users themselves? We've gained a lot of meaningful perspectives from these interviews, had a chance to introduce ourselves to the users, and set up a line of direct communication with our users! It's a bit hard to believe that these sequence of events all happened because I had pulled some stats out of curiosity. Although not all stats may create opportunities as big and important as the one I've mentioned, you'll see that you can find some very interesting connections and patterns by simply observing them.
Whenever you set goals for yourself, you should always think about the KPIs you'll want to track and how you'll measure them. KPIs are awesome for indicating your progress, the impact your work has made, and provide you with tons of useful information for strategic decision making and general understanding.
Want to boost your personal stats and positively increase your KPIs for being successful? If so, take a moment to check out our open positions!
About the author
Piranavan is a Computer Science student at Western University and currently holds the role of Jr Full Stack Developer with Harled Inc.