I gave a presentation a couple of years ago to a group of service managers and executives on the subject of key performance indicators (KPIs). I was surprised by the fact that most of the audience could not give an accurate explanation of what a KPI is. Most people thought it was a data point that was used to measure business performance. However, this is not entirely accurate.
The true definition of a KPI is that it is a quantifiable measure of how successful an organization’s strategies are in meeting their goals. To be effective, KPIs must be specific to your business needs, align with strategic goals, and bring overall benefit to your business. Most importantly, it must inspire you to set new goals.
Unfortunately, many service managers confuse KPIs with industry performance benchmarks. They are not the same thing. In contrast to a KPI, a benchmark is a point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed. While a company might want to benchmark their KPIs against competitors in their industry, they shouldn’t assume that they must adopt the same KPIs as their competitors. They might want to do this if their goal is to outperform competitors on every KPI they measure. This may be neither practical nor feasible if their business needs and strategic goals differ from those of their competitors.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. While there maybe dozens of different field service or reverse logistics activities that your company can measure, you’ll find that there are only a handful that ultimately drive the success of your company’s business strategy. You’ll want to make these specific measurements your KPIs. For example, your strategic goal may be to consistently meet your customers’ expectations for timely service. There could be multiple factors to consider when measuring this outcome like response time, wait time, resolution time, call drive time, etc. However, you may determine that SLA Compliance is the KPI that best measures your success or failure in meeting this strategic goal. On the other hand, your strategic goal might be to deliver high quality service to your customers. While this could be determined through factors like trunk stock fill rate or calls closed incomplete due to lack of parts, you determine that First Time Fix Rate is the best KPI measuring service quality.
When establishing KPIs, it is important that you answer these four questions:
- How will I know when my goals are reached? This is a quantitative target that you want to establish for your KPI. It could be expressed as a raw number (i.e., 4 hour average response time), a progress measure (e.g. 98% SLA compliance), or incremental change (i.e., 10% improvement in Customer Satisfaction).
- What are the key success factors in reaching this goal? A description of the core functions, activities, or business practices that must be performed in order to reach this goal.
- What critical actions do I want to take from the KPIs? It is important to anticipate how your company will react to the KPI measurement that it actually achieves. What steps do you take if you miss your target? What if you meet or exceed it? For example, hire more resources, retrain personnel, improve processes, implement new systems, etc.
- What results do I achieve through these actions? Examine how these actions will impact your business. In what timeframe will they impact your KPI and at what cost? Are there other aspects of your business that will be impacted?
By answering these questions, you’ll have a strategic road map for achieving operational excellence in your business. It’s all about getting clear about your goals, making sure you measure the right things, tracking results on a consistent basis, taking corrective action when needed and, of course, celebrating success. Do you want to learn more about how to achieve geometric results in your field service or reverse logistics business? Schedule a free strategy session today.