Best Practices

What is a KPI Report?

Jonathan Friedman
May 29, 2021
What is a KPI Report?

Are you asking yourself the question, what is a KPI report? Then, you've come to the right place.

It's often said that when running a business, money comes first. There's an element of truth in it, but how do you know you're making the most of your resources that are available?

And even if you have a wealth of data at hand, how do you know if you're looking at the correct data and interpreting it the right way? Let's delve into the details about what is a KPI report, how it can help you, and the best tools to monitor your performance.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is a KPI?

If you're familiar with the word "KPI," you will know that it stands for "Key Performance Indicator." In other words, KPI is a more detailed metric that measures how well an activity is performing and indicates whether the business should continue serving it in the future.

KPIs should base themselves on the organizational objectives, which then align with the strategy. Monitor KPIs at regular intervals to see how much progress there is and any adjustments that you might require.

In essence, a KPI is a snapshot of your life or work, showing where you are thriving and where there may be problems. Some examples of KPIs include sales per hour, labor turnover, and cash flow.

What's the difference between KPIs and metrics?

Though KPIs and business metrics may seem similar, there is one crucial difference. Here's how to tell the two apart.

If a metric tracks you against a critical business goal, it's a KPI. Yet, if a metric that tracks any other business goal is a business metric.

KPIs are a subset of business metrics that only highlight the most critical metrics for your business.

If your primary goal is increasing revenue, a core performance indicator would be something like "total sales." Something like "turnover rate" would be a business metric.

How do KPIs and objectives differ?

Many people confuse KPIs with objectives because of how closely they're related. But it's important to note that they're not the same thing, as an objective is something you're looking to achieve to meet a specific goal.

A KPI is a performance measure you use to determine how well you're doing in achieving your objective.

For example, if their goal was to increase revenue, you could increase sales by 30%.

Here, "increasing sales by 30%" is an objective that needs meeting to meet the goal. The KPI, on the other hand, is "total sales."

What is a KPI report?

A KPI report documents all the top-performing metrics so that an organization can understand how well they are doing towards achieving their goals.

It should include information essential to making informed decisions from stakeholders such as marketing, operations, and finance departments.

The KPI report is best presented in a format that non-financial people find easy to understand. For example, even a successful large business will have KPIs such as "total income vs. total expenses" to keep it simple for any stakeholders that might find it difficult to understand more complex terms such as "debt to equity ratio." 

Who needs to create a KPI report?

In general, you can create a KPI report for anyone from department heads and shareholders. The person who makes the KPI report will be held accountable for analyzing the current situation and identifying the best ways to improve it.

It's important to remember that KPIs can also target goals, not just performance indicators. For example, KPIs can also set sales revenue targets, gross margin, and customer satisfaction ratings. Setting a target is more challenging than just creating an indicator of performance, but it is also much more rewarding.

You can also create it for individual contributors at all levels, not just the executive team. Suppose there are a lot of KPIs produced by different managers. In that case, it can be hard to track performance and ensure everyone agrees on each KPI definition. They can have an average of their KPIs to give them feedback on their performance.

What should you not include in the KPI report?

KPIs should focus on measurable and actionable data. It should not include personal information like opinions or judgments.

It's even better if data presents itself in a way that makes it easy to read and understand. This clarity will help other people, particularly those who aren't tech-savvy or are unfamiliar with the KPIs in question.

They should also not include opinions such as "this is good" or "this is bad" because it doesn't provide any actionable data. The KPIs should be objective and based on clear and realistic performance indicators.

Stakeholders need to trust the reports from companies to make decisions based on them, so you want to avoid any errors and bias as much as possible.

What are some good performance metrics for a KPI report?

Getting the right KPIs for your reports is overwhelming for many. The best way to simplify it is to think about your end goals and work backward. Here are some ideas below.

Sales KPIs

Sales KPIs measure the end of your pipeline. The idea of a sales KPI is to see how the business performs at the journey's buying stage.

Below are some of the most common sales KPIs to include in your KPI report.

Total Sales Revenue: This is used most often as a primary sales KPI. If you sell products or services, this is the easiest KPI to monitor on a day-to-day basis.

Cost of Customer Acquisition: If you spread your sales across multiple customers, the total sales revenue can quickly become over-simplified. You need to allocate resources to each customer and then measure the results. Some companies increase their products' prices to compensate for the increased costs of dealing with multiple regular customers.

Sales Growth: As you progress through the customer journey, you might want to break down revenue into more miniature stages, such as the number of leads converted. Alternatively, track the number of customers that pass on your product or service and how many of them come back.

Lead to Client Conversion Rate: The conversion rate of a new lead to a buyer is an excellent indicator of your sales team's success. Measure it daily, quarterly, or yearly depending on the importance you attribute to this KPI.

Marketing KPIs

Marketing KPIs measure how well your marketing activity is working. You can measure the success of specific campaigns or channels, as well as the overall performance of your digital marketing strategy.

Below are some of the most common marketing KPIs to include in your KPI report.

Social Media KPIs: You can measure the number of different social media platforms on which your business is active. The number of posts or tweets is an excellent first step in measuring how well your marketing activities are working.

Marketing ROI: For some companies, their marketing strategies' relevance is more important than the effectiveness. If you need to measure ROI, it's possible to look at the return on investment (ROI) over a more extended period.

Bounce Rate: If you're marketing to the 'right' audience, this can be an important KPI. If you have an email list, you might want to look at how many people are unsubscribing and why.

MQL to SQL Ratio: MQL and SQL are marketing terms for 'marketing qualified lead' and 'sales qualified lead.' In other words, how many marketing leads are turning into sales leads?

Financial KPIs

Understandably, the majority of businesses focus on financial KPIs. After all, no matter how you end up having money, it's the money that drives business.

Below are some of the most common financial KPIs to include in your KPI report.

Profit Margin: Revenue can be misleading. It doesn't tell you how much money you have left over after paying salaries, costs, and taxes like your profit margin does. When looking at this KPI, remember to consider all the hidden costs of making your product or service.

Revenue Growth: If you're growing your business, monitoring the revenue growth is an excellent way of measuring how well things are going.

Debt to Equity Ratio: As the business grows, it might start to feel a bit like a sinking ship. You can get a handle on this by looking at your debt level and your equity amount.

Inventory Turnover Rate (ITR): ITR considers the turnover rate of the inventory owned by a company and exists as a ratio of cost of goods sold to the average list during a period. This metric can be helpful to track for businesses where goods are the primary revenue driver.

HR (Human Resource) KPIs

When you consider that most business expenses are on staffing costs, HR KPIs are a big player in keeping all your other KPIs above target.

Below are some of the most common HR KPIs to include in your KPI report.

Revenue Per Employee: How much money can each employee bring in.

Employee Turnover: Your business's turnover rate directly affects how much money your company is spending onboarding colleagues. If you're not getting the quality employees you need, it may not be easy to grow your business.

Cost Per Hire: This links to employee turnover, but it's equally valuable for high-retention teams as predicting the cost of your next employee becomes easier.

Absenteeism Rate: How many of your employees are taking time off work? It will be a critical KPI if you're concerned about retention and cost per employee.

Project Management KPIs

Project management KPIs are all about your team's success or failure, especially in the planning stage. If you're having trouble with your team performance, this will be a great place to start.

Below are some of the most common project management KPIs to include in your KPI report.

Productivity Ratio: This ratio looks at the efficiency and output generated from the amount of input used or expenses incurred. It compares productivity against workdays, labor hours, or sales dollars.

Completion vs. Cancellation Rates: Comparing how many projects are completed vs. canceled and at what stage is excellent for finding the cause of your project management hiccups.

The Number of Schedule Changes: this KPI helps monitor resource availability. Many changes at certain stages can signify any blockages in your project funnel. So if these need unclogging, this KPI will give you a good indication of where you need to make changes.

Net Promoter Score (NPS): The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a trending tool that looks at customer loyalty towards your products and services. This score is defined by asking customers a single question: "How likely are you to recommend this service/product?"

How to track KPIs

When tracking your KPIs, it's crucial to build a KPI dashboard. It's the right way of keeping track of the SMART goals you have set and seeing how well you're progressing towards them. For the most part, a KPI dashboard will show the KPIs you want to track, along with their performance information.

You can find a range of third-party KPI dashboards available to use. Some of these are available as software programs that you install on your laptop or PC. You can also use Excel spreadsheets to create your own KPI dashboard.

In most cases yet, using a third-party tool takes the pressure off maintaining the dashboard. That said, some smaller businesses can save money by designing their own, in particular, if they need limited features.

Creating your own KPI dashboard

To create your dashboard, you must put some thought into report planning to know what info is in the dashboard. You can use the Excel spreadsheet to build the schedule and start with just a few KPIs, then add more as you need them.

It would help if you also considered which metrics would be useful for planning, executing, reporting, and reviewing project management. Continue to grow this list until it includes all the necessary data.

Adding trendlines can help analyze the data over some time. Then compare these results against benchmarks or competitors to see what could be improved to achieve better results.

Here are some starting tips:

How to create a KPI dashboard

1. Identify what data you want to include in the dashboard

Make a list of all the reports, charts, graphs, and tables that you'll need so that there are no gaps once it's finished. Also, think about which KPI is essential and should be displayed in a prominent place at the top of your dashboard. Consider how often this data is needed and how often it needs updating.

2. Design the layout of your dashboard

Next, you'll need to decide how to set up each key performance indicator using the available space on your dashboard. It will involve thinking about how often the KPIs show up, their importance, and how much detail you want in the report. Further, clarify whether a graph or table would be better suited for this information.

3. Plan how often it is updated

Once you've decided which KPIs you need to track, you'll need to work out how often they will be updated. For example, it may be necessary to update some data once a quarter and others daily. It could also be that the same chart is used for several different KPIs to save space.

4. Decide which measurement system to use

When you're thinking about tracking your KPIs, you'll need to determine what reporting system you want to use. Include whether you want the KPI reports to be in a monetary format or expressed as a percentage.

It may also have how performance is measured, i.e., by units or volume. Think about how You can understand each measurement and comparable across different KPIs if that's required. It can also help to work out which measurement system may be more beneficial for particular KPIs.

5. Create the report layout sheet first, then add the charts later

The layout will outline where everything goes on your dashboard to make sense once it's finished. Then, you can add the graphs and charts later on.

6. Keep it simple and easy to read

Remember, the most important thing is getting the data across in a transparent way. It would be best if you kept your dashboard as simple as possible to make it easier to read and understand those for whom it's intended. You should also choose colors that are easy on the eye as long as they help emphasize individual KPIs so that they pop out.

7. Make sure there are no gaps or inconsistencies in reporting data

Once you have determined what information needs including, make sure there is no missing data or duplication of data from one report to another. It could lead to confusion about which KPI measures what performance indicator.

When planning your KPI dashboard, it's essential to think of the people who view it often. Depending on your business's size, these could be management, HR leaders, or marketing staff.

You must gather this information when building your dashboard and include valuable information for each type of individual. Look at what reporting software you have chosen so that you can make sure you're building your dashboard using its features and functions in mind.

What is a third-party KPI dashboard?

KPI software is critical for businesses of all sizes. It can help them measure their performance compared to previous results and benchmarks, allowing them to identify gaps and improvement opportunities.

With business intelligence software, you will create a KPI dashboard that shows all of your KPIs in one place. It will give you a quick look at how you're performing against your goals, objectives, and tactics.

Also, the dashboard allows you to see if there are areas where you can make improvements. The goal is a dashboard that displays essential information at a glance to take action with speed and make adjustments as needed.

Choosing the best KPI reporting tool

Once you get to grips with the different types of KPI reports your business needs, it's time to ask yourself the best reporting tool for collecting this information.

It would help if you had a tool that will pull real-time data from your business and flexible enough to allow you to create custom KPIs (both root-level and child-level KPI reports). Some of these qualities are key, but let's look at each one and discuss why they are important.

Fast data collection

The first and most important thing to think about is how fast you can pull data from your business. Most companies use some reporting software.

While some are better than others, some factors need consideration when choosing the right one. First, you should consider if the system can pull the data in real-time or if it requires batch processing at regular intervals.

You don't need to update any information yourself with a real-time system. As soon as something changes in your business, like a customer purchase or payment, the data will pull into your KPI dashboard.

If you don't want to use a real-time system, then you can use one with batch processing at regular intervals. The advantage here is that it works more efficiently than in real-time, which means you won't have any gaps in your data.

However, suppose you want to react to any changing situations or deal with the circumstances as they happen. In that case, a real-time system may be better.


Another essential thing to consider is how easy the software is for users. When choosing the right reporting tool for your business, some will require IT support.

In contrast, others will be straightforward for even non-technical personnel to use. Please take a look at the dashboard, make sure that it is clean and comfortable to read.

If this your first-time reporting software, it may be a good idea to test it out with a small team and get their feedback as well. It will help you determine if the tool is something that your team can use with ease.

Data extraction capabilities

The ability to extract data is also essential when choosing an enterprise reporting software system for your business.

You need to make sure the tool can connect with various programs and databases and retrieve and update data. It will allow you to pull information from several sources like accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, spreadsheet programs, and application software.

In this way, you can combine all your business information into a single place for your team's easy access. If there is no ability to export the data, you won't extract it from these other platforms. The easier it is to pull data into its structure, the higher chance you will maintain your current KPI reports without repeating work or mistakes.

Minimum KPI reporting standards

When choosing the right reporting tool, remember that just because one system is more expensive than another doesn't mean that it will always perform better. It would be best to consider what features you need in your KPI dashboard to track your KPIs effectively. Top-rated systems have many features and should be included in your reporting tool regardless of budget.

For example, a sound reporting system should allow users to modify root-level KPIs and create child-level results with ease. These are the basic features upon which every reporting tool should base itself.

Even if not included in the initial price, you should be able to purchase add-ons that allow you to do this and other vital functions for your business. It should also display visual charts that are easy to understand and provide historical data on previous results.

Reporting extensibility and customization

Customization should be top of your list of things you should look for in your reporting tool. You want to ensure that you can view KPIs for today and any day in the past.

Also, KPIs should be able to be extended with helpful information like budget and cash flow. This way, you can see all of this valuable data in one place and make intelligent business decisions based on it.

It's also helpful in making sure time management is on point. You can list if projects are meeting deadlines or not and adjust your strategy according to the KPI report results.

Analytic flexibility

One of the key features to look for is analytic flexibility. It means that your reporting system should be able to perform advanced analytics, along with being able to import data from multiple sources. That way, you can learn from your data and integrate it into your process improvement strategy.

It should also use graphs and charts to display data in the best possible way for users and provide automated summaries. Correlations and predictive insights are crucial because they help you make critical business decisions based on your KPIs and anticipate future needs.


The last thing to think about is connectivity with other systems like CRM or ERP. You must find a tool that will work with the other systems you have to pull the latest data. Even better, an all-in-one solution means you don't have to worry about integrating all your tools which can cause a nightmare in the future.

The best KPI reporting solution for project management in 2021

There's a reason we're listing TrueNxus alone, and that's because it's an all-in-one solution. You can analyze status reports using real-time dashboards, and a straightforward interface helps keep your workflow productive. Plus, its multi-functional integration as product management and business solution makes it a no-brainer for anyone wanting an easy and efficient KPI reporting solution for managing their programs and projects.

Now we've answered, "What is a KPI report?", you can try our out-of-the-box project management status reporting tool today and make sure you and your project teams are performing at their very best.