Measures v Targets

Last Updated: Friday, July 8, 2011 by Eleanor Alner

I’ve had a number of discussions over the years about measures and targets.  Some people actively dislike the term target preferring not to have any at all.  They use measures because they want their staff to complete the task first class, first time.  As they see it, a target encourages staff to work rapidly through their work to get “the numbers up” whilst sacrificing accuracy, customer satisfaction etc. while a measure takes into consideration the customer experience surrounding that repair.  If the customer was satisfied even though the repair took 4 weeks, then the measure has been met.

In my mind, a measure is any known qualitative or quantitative value that measures the performance of a process.  A target is the level at which you want your measure to be. 

So in the example above, a better measure would be that all repairs were done in 48 hours and the customer was completely satisfied.  The target could be that overall 95% of repairs met this measure.  Now who could be afraid of that?  We have a target that gives the customer confidence that they are being cared for and a measure that is fair on the employee trying to carry out the work. 

Back to the original question, is a measure the same thing as a target?  No.  I believe that they work together.  One setting the proverbial bar and the other encouraging staff to jump over it.

Having cleared that up, what’s a KPI?

A Key Performance Indicator is a type of measure of performance, eg Net profit.  A KPI represents how far a measure is above or below a pre-determined target.  

A measure is used to quantify what’s been done.   The target is how much you want to get done.  And the KPI is what you use to tell you if you’ve achieved it all.