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What Is KPI Reporting? KPI Report Examples, Tips, and Best Practices

Want to write better KPI reports? This article covers every aspect of KPI reporting from theory to planning and execution.

Avatar Davor Štefanović on November 17, 2021 (last modified on November 15, 2021) • 20 minute read

We’re constantly bombarded by data points and it takes real effort to make sense of them. While having a lot of information is a good thing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss what’s really important. Businesses especially need to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff and assess their data accurately.

But, how do you go about this exactly?

It all starts from businesses understanding their audience, collating the relevant information, analyzing it, and then leveraging it all in order to make strategic decisions that will lead to success.

This is where tracking KPIs and ensuring that information is presented in a digestible format comes in. And using KPI reporting tools will streamline the whole process.

We’ll explain what KPIs are, explore KPI reporting in depth, and cover a variety of useful reports as well as give you some of the best practices for creating a KPI report.

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What Is a KPI?

Let’s start with the basics. A key performance indicator (KPI) is a way to measure the performance of a project or a business in achieving a specific goal. The best way to think of them is as milestones that can be used to gauge progress and provide insight that will help you make better decisions. KPIs are applicable in any business sphere and used in every industry.

Businesses of all sizes track KPIs and use them to measure success and plan future endeavors. While this may sound like simple metrics tracking, KPIs are more strategic and have the greatest impact on business planning. While all KPIs are metrics, not all metrics are KPIs. Non-KPI metrics support KPIs and aren’t as crucial in and of themselves.

Related: KPIs vs. Metrics: What’s the Difference & How Do You Measure Both?

KPIs can provide you with a realistic look at how your business is doing, providing information about everything from risk factors and opportunities to financial indicators. As such they can keep the whole organization moving in the same direction and allow you to course-correct as necessary.

What Is a KPI Report?

A KPI report is a performance tracking tool that allows you to quickly analyze key performance indicators and understand how your organization is doing with respect to specific goals. They include data visualization, consisting of charts, tables, and graphs. Modern KPI reports are interactive, and all the underlying data can be accessed quickly. In addition, they allow you to reorganize displayed information which allows for a quick change of focus.

Related: Business Report: What is it & How to Write a Great One? (With Examples)

Why Are KPI Reports Important?

KPIs are more than just numbers or even metrics. They make it possible to understand how your business is performing, allowing you to make adjustments in your procedures and achieve your long-term goals. Identifying the right KPIs and measuring them will help you achieve results more quickly, and you’ll have a better insight into how well you did.

A well-made KPI report with an organized dashboard provides important insights in an easy-to-understand format, allowing everyone to understand the overall situation. That way, even non-technical personnel can recognize relationships between data points and identify trends. This means that relevant people will be able to correctly set business objectives and chart a course for achieving them.

What Is the Difference Between a KPI Report and a KPI Dashboard?

While an interactive KPI report you can use to navigate through different metrics and perform data exploration and analysis is fairly similar to modern KPI dashboards, they’re not necessarily the same thing. Traditional KPI reports are static documents distributed to shareholders, while interactive dashboards allow for much easier access to different layers of information.

KPI reports focus on the analytical interpretation of underlying metrics, mostly via tables and graphs that make decision-making easier. On the other hand, dashboards are visualization tools that can support KPI reports — they employ various visual formats like graphs and charts that give real-time insight into KPI and metric performance.

Today, the line between the two is very much blurred. Modern Dashboards are robust enough to take on the role of a full-fledged report, or they can be integrated into the report. Additionally, nothing is stopping you from feeding information from a KPI Report into a dashboard in order to create a pleasing and impactful presentation.

How Do I Prepare a KPI Report? 

In order to prepare a good KPI report, you need to gather data and answer some questions. It’s best to present all important metrics. Ideally, you want to present performance over a period of time and showcase recent growth, decreases, and outliers.

In essence, no two KPI reports are the same. They need to be tailored to the user, industry, business, audience, and so on. You can and should customize your reports in order to match your requirements, and fortunately, modern reporting tools and dashboards can make the whole thing a breeze.

So, here’s what you should think about when you’re preparing a KPI report. 

Consider your goals

First, you need to decide what your desired business result is. Set out your long-term goals and consider the steps you need to take to achieve them. The goals need to be feasible and paired with measurable results. Don’t forget to add milestones and expected changes in the numbers or percentages.

Related: Goals Based Reporting: Everything You Need to Know

Choose the right KPIs

Second, select the KPIs you want to use to measure your progress. In order to create a useful KPI, you need to determine how you intend to reach the goals defined in the previous step. Set down what key activities will bring your business closer to reaching each of these goals and make sure they’re quantifiable.

Check your data

Third, take a look at your data sources. Thanks to modern dashboards, you can consolidate all the data you need. The process can be made even easier with software integrations that allow you to automatically import information from other sources. Dashboards can crunch numbers for you and present insights based on your KPIs. However, in order to do that, they need access to good data. 

That’s why you need to audit your data sources and make sure they align with your business objectives. Exclude chaff information that will only clutter up the dashboard, a KPI report needs to be trim, relevant, and actionable. If you do this, you’ll streamline the whole process and ensure that you only see information that needs to be analyzed.

Ensure you know who’ll use the report

Fourth, plan for the target audience. Consider who’s going to see and use the KPI report. If no one is interested in tracking a specific KPI, then there’s no real point in adding it to the dashboard. If the metric reflects a downward trend, then ensure that there’s a plan to correct this or that there’s someone ready to make that plan. In addition, keep in mind that not all people viewing the report may have permission to see the data reflected in the KPIs. Some information is confidential or just not relevant to some people so it may be worth it to create different versions of KPI reports for different audiences.

Consider the visualization

Fifth, take into account the visualization itself.  How will the metrics be displayed? Will you use bar charts, graphs, pie charts, line charts, or something else to present a KPI and supporting metrics? You can place similar metrics close to each other to create a natural flow of information. This makes it easy to find all the relevant information.

By visualizing data properly, you can tell a story about how the business is performing. If you emphasize what truly matters in an easy-to-understand format, you’ll be able to share critical information even with people who aren’t too familiar with the subject matter.

How to Distribute a KPI Report

Of course, creating a successful KPI reporting strategy requires more than building informative and actionable reports. Without people to review them and implement the strategies suggested, the reports aren’t worth much. So distributing them to people who can use the information is vital.

Managers, project stakeholders, and other staff are there “in the trenches” and can see the effects of their actions directly. This is why distributing the reports at the project management level is vital.  These people will be able to act on the reports and inform their coworkers about the progress towards the objectives that have been set up.

You can distribute them either through static reports (usually at scheduled meetings) or through live reports. Unfortunately, static reports often contain outdated information as collection, collation, and distribution are done manually, which comes with an inevitable time delay. Live reports can be distributed either as KPI dashboards that show trends and graphs or traditional reports with tables that display numeric data.

While they can be “distributed” by sending people emails or chat messages with links towards reports, they always exist and can be accessed anytime and anywhere. This real-time accessibility allows the recipients to have data at their fingertips and to make decisions in a timely fashion instead of waiting for the report to be compiled and then distributed. It makes the whole process much more streamlined and minimizes the chance of errors.

KPI Reporting Examples & Templates

Of course, there are countless possible reports you can make, all depending on what you’re trying to achieve, the type of organization, and the target audience. Here are templates and examples of some of the most common KPI reports you might need to make.

SEO report template

This SEO report template will help you track organic search performance in Google by showing you how your site is performing in organic search results. You’ll also see the changes in that performance by noting high-performing pages, keywords, and queries, as well as your average ranking.

An SEO report will help you identify which queries you should focus on, and you’ll be able to optimize search snippets to improve your CTR from search results. The key metrics are impressions, clicks, costs, clicks by queries, pages by clicks, position, and crawl errors.

SEO report template example

If you need to make a more specific SEO KPI report, you can browse our library of SEO dashboard templates.

Employee performance dashboard

If you want to track custom metrics from Jira, this employee performance dashboard is exactly what you need. This is especially true if you use Agile principles.

By tracking key metrics like hours tracked, billable hours, and billing amounts, you’ll be able to visualize the data from Harvest in the way you want. The template will allow you to split tracked time by project, team, task, or client. It makes it easy to see how many hours have been tracked on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

Employee performance dashboard example

You can also browse all of our employee performance dashboards and customize them according to your needs.

Social media report template

Social media report templates can give you insights into how your social media campaign is progressing by tracking metrics like impressions, reach, followers, and more. If you want to track the performance of your business Instagram account, you’ll be able to see what posts have been popular with your followers, see the impact of your activity, and communicate how social media strategy is impacting the overall ROI.

Social media report example

All Databox’s social media dashboard templates come pre-built with the most commonly tracked metrics and are fully customizable. You can browse our library of social media dashboards and pick the right one for your purposes.

Financial KPI reporting template

A well-made financial reporting dashboard will give you insight into your business’ bank accounts, cash flows, sales, expenses, etc. Databox’s financial reporting dashboards like this Quickbooks financial report can be integrated with accounting software and streamline the whole reporting process with just a few clicks.

You can use them to track your company’s financial transactions, open and unpaid invoices, debits and credits, and many more metrics. They can even visualize cash flow projections and allow you to sort all the data by any category you wish.

Financial KPI reporting example

Browse the full selection of our financial dashboards, and you’re guaranteed to find something you need.

Project Management KPI report template

Project management KPIs are possibly the most important for the long-term health of any organization. If you connect a dashboard to your work management software, you’ll be able to keep your workflow organized and track your team’s progress very easily.

With a project management report, you’ll be able to monitor relevant metrics related to task organization like assigned tasks, overdue, completed, and assigned tasks, time spent on tasks, team performance and productivity, and many more. These, in turn, can be turned into indicators of the health of the organization. An increasing number of overdue tasks could be a sign that there are workflow issues that need to be addressed.

Project Management KPI report example

You can browse all project management dashboards and find the one that works for your organization.

Sales performance KPI dashboard

This type of KPI report dashboard is a visual snapshot of the sales team’s performance. You can use sales performance KPI dashboards to track sales performance and productivity KPIs, sales leaderboards, and progress towards achieving goals. You’ll be able to understand the sales pipeline better and compare team results with revenue goals.

Sales performance KPI dashboard example

Databox has a large selection of sales dashboards you can browse.

Customer support KPI dashboard template

This customer support report template that pulls data from Intercom is easy-to-use and allows you to assess your overall Help Desk performance and efficiency of individual customer service agents. You can integrate it with Intercom or any other CRM software and pull up a variety of metrics from leads and conversations to average handle time and customer satisfaction. You can use these data points and collate them into useful and actionable KPIs for your KPI report.

Customer support KPI dashboard example

If you need a different dashboard, you can browse our library of customer support dashboards.

SaaS executive dashboard

Executive dashboards include an array of important SaaS metrics like Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and churn rate. By using it you’ll learn how much did you make on any given day, the number of current customers, the percentage of customers churned in a specific time period, how much revenue was lost due to customer churn, etc.

SaaS executive dashboard example

You can also browse the full list of our SaaS dashboards and pick whatever suits your business.

Software development dashboard

Software development reports can help you track new features and bug fixes across your digital portfolio. They’re powerful collaboration tools that will enable your software team to execute projects quickly and efficiently. You’ll learn how many changes were made to the projects over a period of time, the number of branches, commits, and forks in the selected repository, the number of open issues that you can sort by kind, and so on.

Software development dashboard example

All of our dashboards are fully customizable, and if you’d like a wider selection, you can browse our library of software development dashboards.

Ecommerce report example

Ecommerce reports allow you to get full insights into your online sales statistics, product performance, conversion rate, and many more metrics. If you integrate it with Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, or Shopify, you’ll have access to a variety of data points you’ll be able to use to put together actionable KPIs and build useful KPI reports.

Ecommerce report example

Check out our full selection of ecommerce dashboard templates and pick the one that suits your needs.

KPI Examples 

As we mentioned, metrics need to be selected with the target audience in mind. There’s no single list of best KPIs that are suitable for every report and every circumstance. However, there are some that tend to be more broadly applicable and can be used by various departments to measure performance.

Financial KPIs

These are particularly important to C-suite and the accounting department. After all, revenue information is perhaps the clearest measure of a business’ profitability.

Here are some common and useful financial KPIs:

  • Gross Profit Margin
  • Net Profit margin
  • Current Ratio
  • Return on Equity
  • Debt-to-Equity Ratio
  • Inventory Turnover

Customer Support KPIs

Important for any business that wants to maintain a good relationship with their customers. They’re useful for managers, executives, and agents in companies that deal with customers on a daily basis. 

The effective use of these metrics can improve productivity and create efficient processes.

Here are some very useful customer support KPIs:

  • Average Response Time
  • Customer Churn
  • Number of Issues
  • Customer Retention
  • First Call Resolution
  • Top Support Agents

Marketing KPIs

These metrics provide insight into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and are invaluable to not only marketing agencies but also to any business that relies on advertising (which is probably every business, at this point).

Marketers should keep track of the following KPIs:

  • Return on Investment
  • Return on Ad Spend
  • Conversion Rate
  • Customer Acquisition Cost
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer
  • SEO Keyword Ranking

Sales KPIs

Sales performance information needs to cover both completed work and the effectiveness of existing processes. Sales teams are the natural audience for these metrics, as are their managers and some executives.

Here are important sales KPIs:

  • Sales Revenue
  • Sales Growth
  • Product Performance
  • Sales Target
  • Average Purchase Target
  • Quote to Close Ratio

Project Management KPIs

KPIs for project management cover a team’s ability to achieve goals. Project managers and their supervisors can make the best use of this data to ensure better team cohesion and improved performance in the future. They cover quality, timeliness, budget, and effectiveness.

Here are some important project management KPIs:

  • Time Spent
  • Cost Performance Index
  • Employee Churn Rate
  • Number of Project Milestones
  • Customer Complaints
  • Cycle Time

KPI Reporting Best Practices

Focusing on the right metrics is important. You don’t want to waste resources on measuring and monitoring KPIs that don’t matter. Poorly constructed KPI report with poorly chosen metrics can easily send you on the wrong path and waste opportunities or even cause irreparable damage to your business.

To help you with that, we’ve put together a list of best practices for KPI reporting.

Keep it simple

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of data points available. The best idea is to focus on a small number of KPIs (key is the operative word in key performance indicators) and measure only the metrics that align with your business objectives. The most common KPIs aren’t necessarily the most important, and you should tailor your report to include only what’s truly relevant.

Set clear objectives

This is an extension of the previous point but avoid the temptation to add more information to the report without a clear reason to do so. Make a plan and stick to it. You want the report to be clear and concise and not bury the target audience under a mountain of data.

Ensure the data is consistent and accurate

The computing maxim “garbage in, garbage out” applies to all data analysis applications. You simply cannot trust the result if the data isn’t up to par. Spend some time testing data sets and double-checking inputs before deciding to use them.

Understand the relationship between KPIs

Metrics don’t exist in isolation. They impact each other, and sometimes it isn’t clear what caused a change (or what will cause the change) until you dig deeper and examine their relationships. 

This is important when developing KPIs because just wanting to increase certain metrics without understanding underlying causes can cause them to stagnate until you identify exact ways to improve them.

Embrace digital accessibility

Using cloud-level solutions can make the whole process much simpler and even faster. Having immediate central access to a variety of data points is simply a must in today’s fast-paced world if you want your KPI reports to be useful by the time you’re done with them.

If you have something that’s not digitized, digitize it, and ensure that all metric sources are integrated with the right reporting dashboards.

Coordinate across the organization

The best reports require input from multiple people. Invite coworkers or stakeholders who will have to act on the information in the report to provide input about the required metrics. If you can, organize brainstorming sessions with relevant personnel before building KPIs and create dashboards and data visualizations that will make the communications and planning simpler.

Perform regular reviews

Objectives change with time. Old ones are achieved, the market shifts or the company decides to pivot in a new direction. It’s important to regularly review existing KPIs and ensure they’re still relevant. This will ensure you’re tracking metrics that matter and that your business will continue to benefit from them.

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Build More Insightful KPI Reports with Databox

As you can see, writing a KPI report can be a complex task. You need to be able to analyze a lot of information and identify important data points that will be useful to your business. These reports then need to be kept up to date, variables need to be monitored, and relevant people need to be in the loop.

However, it doesn’t have to be that time-consuming or complex.

With Databox, you can build more insightful KPI reports in less time, and it only takes a few clicks to get started. Stop wasting time on time-consuming busy work. Connect the relevant data sources, customize one of our existing dashboard templates or build your own, and visualize the data in one spot. You’ll be able to create lean and actionable KPI reports that will make sure your business is on the right track.

Sounds good? Feel free to try it out. Just sign up for a free trial and make KPI reporting easier than you thought possible.

About the author
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Davor Štefanović Davor is an English literature graduate and an avid reader with a passion for languages. Working as a translator, editor, and writer has allowed him to learn about a wide range of topics — making him something of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to content. In his spare time, he reads, plays video games and boardgames, and runs/plays tabletop RPGs.
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