How many KPIs can a company truly handle?

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The more we manage, the better. Therefore, let’s measure as much as possible. The measures are all key indicators in their own way – leading or lagging. We have now ended up in a measurement hell. We are focusing on a vast amount of measures, and spend more time measuring than managing. 

Performance management is in many ways developing from standard reports with company-wide projects, to a vast amount of on-demand self-service information and small initiatives. With the ever-increasing number of self-service tools, such as QlikView, Tableau and PowerBI, everyone can now act as a controller and use their valuable time to develop their own sets of metrics. Divisions, business areas and functions within the same organization are setting up their own reporting and selecting their own key performance indicators (KPIs).

Consequences are that focus is set on a multitude of performance indicators and organizations are having a hard time heading towards a common goal. How many performance indicators are truly key for your organization?

Whether you are already drowning in KPIs and wish to start focusing, or simply have difficulties in aligning your organization to head in a selected direction, you might find the following steps useful.


Start off by selecting a handful of KPIs that will steer you towards your strategic goals and increase the profitability. They should not be selected on a whim but placed to address the problem areas / root causes that prevent you from reaching your strategic goals. If they are not aligned with your strategic objectives, then try again. It is worth noting that even though they are key for the time being, they can be replaced later if outdated.


You should then convince and align your troops so that they keep an eye on and improve these KPIs. Start with thoroughly explaining ‘why’ the indicators are important and crucial for the success of your organization and how your teams can affect the outcome. KPIs are not valuable if your people do not have the willingness to act on them.


Keeping an eye on a KPI is good, but promptly acting on it when necessary is better. Therefore, continue setting up the process on how to monitor the KPIs and addressing the way on how to act on them. Information should be available in real-time, however most of the meeting habits in today’s business world are still on weekly basis. Hence, the existing weekly meetings can be a good forum to link actions to KPI performance.