The fact that you are reading this suggest that you probably know that KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. You probably also know that metrics which could tell you how your business is doing are numerous. Bernard Marr, author of Big Data, defines KPIs as  “ … a way of measuring how well we as individuals or how well entire companies or business units are performing. A KPI should help us understand how well a company, business unit or individual is performing compared to their strategic goals and objectives.”

But metrics are numerous, complicated and could be about anything. How should you keep track of all that’s important, without getting lost in all the data?

A metric is something you can measure. You can measure and track the time a user spends on a website or whether a particular page has a high “bounce rate” (which says that it’s often the last page a user visits). You can measure how much revenue the site makes.You can measure employees performance with easy office and remote employee monitoring tools.You can also measure how many times the letter A is used on the home page. All of these things are measurable; however, just because they are measurable, it doesn’t mean that those measures are informative. Before you decide to track something, you should probably first answer to “Which decisions do these metrics trigger?” and “What would we do differently if the numbers rose or dropped?” If you can’t identify the actions that would follow these changes – you probably don’t need the metrics in the first place (or at least not as much as you think).

Key Performance Indicators use metrics, but not every metric is a candidate for a key performance indicator.

In order for something to be a KPI, it must meet several requirements:

1. First of all, it must suggest some performance. Knowing that the letter A appears 120 times on the home page tells you nothing about how your business is doing. Knowing that you sold $2000 last week tells you something about how your business is doing. However, it still doesn’t necessarily make it a KPI.

2. Next, it has to be key for your decision making – it must tell you something important. If you’re a business that’s all about selling things, then sales are probably important. It’s probably more important than the number of new visitors to your web site, because unless those visitors buy something, you can’t pay the bills.

3. Finally, in order to be useful, it has to have the ability to predict the future – that’s what makes it an indicator. If sales are the thing you’re most worried about, last week’s sales isn’t really a KPI because its change doesn’t give you any warning. You need to find something that will predict what sales you’ll get; and hopefully with a decent lead time, so if it looks like sales will go down, you have the time to do something about it.

Of course, there are many important numbers in your business that you have to worry about – not just KPIs, but also general health indicators, or simple performance indicators. The difference is that a good KPI gives you warning and more importantly, it provides you with the time to react. Not just any metrics can give you this kind of opportunity.

If you strive for your business to progress, data-based decision making is essential. Yet, having too many KPIs could be worse than having no KPIs. It dilutes focus for your business on the actions that are going to drive success. Also, keep in mind that no KPI is forever – they should reflect your current strategy and targets and need to be revised regularly.

In essence, KPIs are communications vehicles. They allow top executives to communicate the mission and focus of the organization and grab the attention of employees. A good way to make your employees aware of what’s happening with your KPIs is with the help of GeckoBoard. This software shows metrics you marked as important on a beautifully designed dashboard, which you can display on a screen in your office. It gives a whole new perspective on how the business indicators are changing on a daily basis and becomes a central place where conversations are started. The best part? It drives an immediate action when things aren’t according to  plan and everyone understands why they need to change their actions.

Workpuls Teramind ActivTrak Hubstaff DeskTime Time Doctor RescueTime Kickidler Veriato Work Examiner
OVERVIEW
Price $6/user/month $6/user/month $7.20/user/month $7/user/month $7/user/month $9.99/user/month $6/user/month $9.99/user/month $150/licence/year $60/licence (lifetime)
Free trial 7 days 7 days No 14 days 14 days 14 days 30 days 7 days Yes 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Very easy Easy Easy Very easy Very easy Very easy Very difficult Easy
TRACKING METHODS
Unlimited (tracker working 24/7)
Fixed (defined working hours)
Automatic (when computer is connected to a specified network)
Manual (start/stop)
Project based (track time only on projects)
GENERAL MONITORING FEATURES
Stealth mode
App and website usage
Real-time monitoring
Offline time tracking
Attendance
Activity levels
Keylogger
Geolocation
Remote desktop control
Website/activity blocking
SCREENSHOTS AND RECORDING
Screenshots
Screenshots on demand
Screen recording
PRODUCTIVITY FEATURES
Productivity trends
Websites and apps labeling
Category labeling
Productivity alerts
ADVANCED SECURITY FEATURES
User behavior analytics
Data loss prevention
Advanced file and web monitoring
REPORTING
Productivity reports
Team reports
Timelines
Email reports
Access management
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
Mobile app iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android iOS, Android Android
Browser extension Chrome Chrome Chrome
Other Citrix, VMware Chrome OS
OTHER
Support Phone, email, online Phone, email, online Phone, email, online Email, online Phone, email, online, in-person Online Phone, email, online Email, online, Viber, Whatsapp Phone, email, online, support ticket Phone, email, online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations comming soon
API
Deployment cloud, on-premise cloud, on-premise, AWS, Azure cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud on-premise cloud, on-premise on-premise
Kronos Humanity Timeclockplus Tsheets Wheniwork Deputy Replicon Jibble EbilityTimeTracker OnTheClock
OVERVIEW
Price (per month)Available upon requestFrom $2 per userAvailable upon requestFrom $6.40 per user + $16Free for up to 75 usersFrom $2.50 per userBasic plan: $30 for 5 users + $5 per additional userFrom $1.50 per employeeFrom $4 per user + $8From $2.20 per user
Free trial30 days14 daysYes14 days14 days14 days30 days
Ease of useDifficultEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasy
FEATURES
Timecard management
Scheduling
Shift Trading
Timesheets
Break time management
Real-time tracking
PTO Management
Payroll
Invoicing
Client billing
GPS tracking
Clock out reminders
Alerts
Manual time
PUNCH-IN METHODS
Web app
Mobile app
Time clock device
Time clock kiosk
Facial recognition
Fingerprint scanning
Geofencing
Group punch-in
REPORTING
Visual reports
Email reports
Time rounding
MANAGEMENT
Permissions
Manager approvals
Add time for others
Integrations
PLATFORMS
Web
Android app
iOS app
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
OTHER
SupportPhone and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, chat and onlinePhone and chatEmail and onlineChat and phonePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Community forum
API
Workpuls Hubstaff Toggl TimeDoctor Harvest TimeCamp Timely Everhour Tick TMetric
OVERVIEW
Price (per month) $6 per user $5.83 per user $9 per user $9.99 per user $10.80 per user $5.25 per user $99 for 5 users $7 per user $19 for 10 projects $5 per user
Free trial 7 days 14 days 30 days 14 days 30 days Yes 14 days 14 days 30 days 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Difficult Very easy Easy Very easy Easy Difficult Very easy Difficult
TIME TRACKING METHODS
Manual
Start/stop buttons
Automatic time mapping
IN-DEPTH TASK AND PROJECT ANALYSIS
Screenshots
App and website usage
Activity levels coming soon
Real-time tracking
TASK AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project adding
Project templates
Project status
Task assignment
Task priorities
Budgeting coming soon
Mark billable/non-billable hours
Payroll calculation
Invoicing
ALERTS
Idle time reminders
Deadline alerts coming soon
Budget alerts coming soon
REPORTING
Client login
Productivity analysis
Email reports coming soon
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app coming soon
iOS app Beta
Android app
Browser extension Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge
OTHER
Support Phone and online Email and online Email and online Online Online, email and phone Email, online and support ticket Email and chat Email and chat Email Chat
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations coming soon
API
On-premise hosting

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