Best and Worst KPI

As a manager or C-level in a company, if there is one tool you can’t do without that would be your business dashboards. Tracking and maintaining your Key performance indicators should be part of your daily routine to make sure your company is on the right tracks to great business success and greater revenues. This applies especially to key data centric business area such as marketing, social media and sales.

However, with the amount of data a company can produce nowadays, it is sometimes hard to know what to measure and how to measure it efficiently.

Using KPIs with wrong Data, or KPIs that you don’t understand because of bad visualization or simply because they are too complicated can lead to a wrong KPI analysis and will actually hinder the progress of your business.

How to make sure your metrics are done properly? There are just too many particularities to give you an answer that would work for every industry, but here are a few examples of good and bad decisions regarding KPI and dashboard design.



  • Focus on quality over quantity: Remember that the K in KPI stands for Key indicators, it is never a good idea to fill a dashboards with too many metrics as it will dilute their meanings. Settle for what is important to display and what question you want to answer with a particular dashboard.
  • Must be Relevant: Your KPIs have to be in line with your company overall goals and strategy, if they don’t, you probably don’t need them. What are you really trying to measure? Customer conversion rate? The quality of the product design?
  • Provide Context: A KPI could be a chart, a table or just a simple number, but you can’t have numbers just lying around on your dashboard, remember that dashboards are meant to be shared! You want your colleagues to understand quickly what your indicators are telling them. Make sure you have the proper context, it could be as simple as putting proper titles or values to your X and Y axis.
  • Fresh Data: Your KPIs are meant to represent the state of a piece of your business so you can base your decisions upon. If your indicators are fed with old data, you won’t be able to do this. Make sure your indicators always refresh the current state of your business.


  • Don’t overdo visualization: A lot of tools, Excel or Google Analytics included, offer fancy visualization options such as 3D rendering of an indicator, or flashy colors. Avoid them! They are a real nuisance when trying to make sense of your indicators.
  • Bad KPIs don’t answer a question: Sometime, you will see an indicator which doesn’t seem to fit. People will ask question about it, but it won’t actually serve the purpose of the discussion. It just look like the data was available and somebody decided to put it there because it seemed important. Remove metrics that don’t serve a purpose!
  • Beware of the negative effect when the KPI becomes a target: Often, an indicator will be created in a company to measure the current state of a value and follow its evolution (sales level, amount of people attending an event etc.) Most of those KPIs are meant to just give out an information, but they tend over time to be compared to previous states and becomes targets to achieve and surpass. As a manager it is your duty to sort which KPI are meant to be targets and which are meant to be informative or this could lead to bad decisions at the end of the road!

Discover more about KPI analysis with our other guides :

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