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Performance Indicators

Performance indicators are metrics that measure and evaluate the success or achievement of goals in companies or organizations. These indicators are important tools for analyzing the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes, identifying areas for improvement, and making strategic decisions. This glossary entry explains the different types of performance indicators, their significance, and the challenges associated with their use.


Performance indicators (also known as Key Performance Indicators, KPIs) are quantitative or qualitative metrics that measure and evaluate the success of companies or organizations in relation to their goals and strategies. They are an essential tool for management to analyze the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes and projects, identify areas for improvement, and make strategic decisions. Performance indicators can be applied at various levels, such as company-wide, departmental, or employee level, and provide an objective basis for communication and performance assessment.

Types of Performance Indicators

There are various types of performance indicators that can be used differently depending on the objectives and application area. These include:

  • Financial performance indicators: They measure the economic performance of a company, for example, revenue, profit, profitability, or cash flow.
  • Operational performance indicators: They assess the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes, such as production or delivery times, quality, customer satisfaction, or employee productivity.
  • Strategic performance indicators: They relate to the achievement of long-term goals and the success of corporate strategy, for example, market shares, growth, or innovation capability.
  • Environmental and sustainability indicators: They measure the impact of a company on the environment and society, such as energy consumption, CO2 emissions, or social responsibility.

Relevance of Performance Indicators

Performance indicators are important for companies and organizations for several reasons:

  • They provide an objective and traceable basis for evaluating performance and identifying strengths and weaknesses.
  • They allow monitoring progress in achieving goals and the effectiveness of measures, and making adjustments where necessary.
  • They support the communication and understanding of goals and expectations within the company as well as with external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, or investors.
  • They can be used as a basis for establishing incentive systems and managing resources.

Challenges in Using Performance Indicators

However, the introduction and use of performance indicators are not without challenges:

  • Selection of the right indicators: It is crucial to choose those indicators that best reflect the success of the company or organization and capture the relevant aspects of performance. This requires a precise analysis of goals, processes, and stakeholder requirements.
  • Measurement and data collection: The quality of performance indicators depends on the availability, accuracy, and reliability of underlying data. This may require the implementation of new data collection systems, training of employees, or collaboration with external partners.
  • Interpretation and communication of results: The results of the performance indicators must be correctly interpreted and put into the appropriate context to avoid misinterpretations and wrong decisions. It is important to understand the limitations and potential distortions of the indicators and to consider these when communicating and making decisions.
  • Adjustment and further development of indicators: Performance indicators should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to account for changes in goals, processes, or market conditions. This requires continuous reflection and a willingness to learn on the part of management and employees.


Performance indicators are an important tool for companies and organizations to measure and evaluate the success of their activities. They support the analysis of business processes, the identification of areas for improvement, and strategic decision-making. However, the successful introduction and use of performance indicators require careful selection of indicators, robust data collection and analysis, clear communication of results, and continuous adaptation to changing conditions.