How Should People Respond to KPI’s?

The only reason you should use key performance indicators for reporting web analytic data is because the organization is motivated to optimize the online channel. If the company is not motivated to use the available data, repackaging it into key performance indicators and forcing it on people isn’t going to help. Trust me on this one.

In the course of my research I recently uncovered something surprisingly simple about how companies need to think about an investment in web analytics: the idea that it takes more than just an investment in measurement technology to be successful. If you’re not willing to invest in technology and people to use that technology you’re doomed from the get-go. But if you’re not willing to establish process around that investment you’re still more likely than not to fail. The use of key performance indicators is an excellent way to establish process. Still, without organizational interest, all you have are reports and reports by themselves are unlikely to have any profound impact on your online business.

So given this framework, how should people respond to the key performance indicators they receive? It’s hard to say. I know that whenever one of the KPIs I use to measure my online business (selling books, right?) declines I immediately try to figure out what went wrong and why. Depending on which KPI is in decline I focus more or less quickly on the problem. Revenue KPIs I address immediately, other KPIs I address more slowly but still I make sure to address them. Why? Because I’m really interested in making my online business as successful as possible; the KPIs are about my business objectives and their successful attainment.

That’s the most critical thing to keep in mind: your key performance indicators are about your business success. If your personal success is tied to your business success, as it is for so many employees, all the more reason to pay special attention to your business KPIs. Perhaps all you need to do is occasionally remind people that these indicators are not just numbers, they’re numbers that describe how successful the organization truly is. Hopefully that will create the level of interest your organization needs to work diligently to optimize the online channel.

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