Goals, KPIs and Reporting

“Why do I have to report these particular metrics to my Director? I have no need for KPIs”. I’ve heard this so many times in all the companies where I’ve worked, and I continue to come across similar situations in numerous other businesses. People are often frustrated by the necessity of submitting reports to their superiors, and they feel that calculating KPIs is a loss of time. Their time.

On the other hand, the common wisdom “What you don’t measure you don’t manage” pops up like a mantra in every business related book or speech.

The word “manage” is key here. We all manage our time (or rather the way we use it), we manage tasks, businesses, etc. We administer all these aspects of our lives by making individual selections. The crucial question is what decisions are you taking, on what basis, and when. People usually make choices guided by emotions or information. And while emotions are quite naturally an important decision trigger, information and data help ensure that the most appropriate option is chosen.

While emotions are quite naturally an important decision trigger,
information and data help ensure that the most appropriate option is chosen.

So, when you manage your tasks or business, what information do you need to settle on a plan of action? What questions do you ask yourself or your employees in order to find that information? Finally, what business decisions do you expect to take in light of the answers received to your questions? These elements are of fundamental importance for shaping both the KPIs and the Report – and you should utilize the facts thus gained to the full.

I’ve encountered a great many companies that start introducing metrics and KPIs while preparing for ISO certification. The Standard requires them to measure and evaluate processes – thus, they do so for conformity’s sake. Incidentally, I used to act the same some 15 years back (and as a result, everything went wrong for me the first time). KPIs and metrics are there for you, not for the external auditor. Think about what data you need in order to be able to take business decisions, and what questions you want to ask and have answered; only then will you know what to do. Such KPIs will be beneficial to you and your business, and I bet you’ll soon want to monitor them on a daily or weekly basis rather than just before the next audit.

KPIs and metrics are there for you,
not for the external auditor.

Next, you should ensure that the process of monitoring KPIs is efficient. Of course, you do not want to spend too much time creating reports, but you do want to have the data that these reports present. So make sure you have a system that feeds you the necessary information automatically or in just a few clicks. You’ll benefit immensely from devoting time not only to the generation of the report but also to an analysis of these data.

Make sure you have a system that feeds you the necessary information automatically
or in just a few clicks.

And one more thing. The higher up you get in the organizational structure of a business, the more complex and advanced your reporting needs become. What comes handy then is the ability to elaborate so-called information dashboards, which organize and present different sorts of information on one sheet. Now, using Google Docs and Google Data Studio, you can easily set up your management system as the source of data and play with the dashboard layout in whatever way you see fit, fully in line with your needs. But this is a vast topic, and a separate article is called for, so please stay tuned.

All the best with your business! Good luck.

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Andrzej Nedoma
Andrzej Nedoma is the Co-founder and CEO of XTRF Management Systems, a global translation management platform provider for translation companies of every size, in-house corporate language departments, and public organizations. His company helped hundreds of translation and localization agencies in 30 countries to leverage their potential. Andrzej was awarded with the Polish Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 title in the category “Services”.

He has been building his translation industry expertise since 1996 as a business development manager and as a Managing Director for a leading Central European translation company LIDO-LANG Technical Translations which was eventually sold to Sepro Group from Spain.

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