Who is my audience

When beginning to think about the KPIs you will use in your Tile, you will need to first identify your audience. Who will be the consumer of the Tile? What are their information needs? What do they already know? What are their experiences and prejudices? As you choose your KPIs, understanding the consumers of the Tile will help you craft a product that they love to use.

It is important to consider the role of the end user. What decisions do they make? What questions do they need answered? It is important to structure the information to make it super easy for users to answer high priority questions.

Metrics that bring value

It is important that when deciding which KPIs to use, that you choose metrics that bring value to your audience. Outlined below are a few suggestions on how to choose the best metrics.

  • Help management define what is important
  • Educate people in the organization about the things that matter
  • Set goals and expectations for specific individuals or groups
  • Help executives sleep at night because they know what’s going on
  • Encourage specific actions in a timely manner
  • Highlight exceptions and provide alerts when problems occur
  • Communicate progress and success
  • Provide a common interface for interacting with and analyzing
    important business data

What type of Tile am I creating

What is the scope? Broad or specific? A broad scope is displaying information about the entire organization. A specific scope is focusing on a specific function, process, product, etc.

What is the business role? Strategic or Operational. You can either illustrate a high-level, broad, and long-term view of performance, or you can provide a focused, near-term, and tactical view of performance.

What is the time-frame you will be looking at? Will you be looking backwards to track trends, showing performance at a single point in time, monitoring activity as it happens, or using past performance to predict future performance?

What level of detail do you want to illustrate? Do you want to present only criterial high-level detail, or do you want the ability to drill drill down to detailed information to gain more context?

Choosing the perfect KPI


It is important to make it clear what the source of the problem is, as well as the necessary actions when the metric goes up, down, flat or off-target. You want to be careful not to make your metrics too broad for specific groups to impact (e.g. customer satisfaction)

Focus on absolute measures rather than changes (e.g. total sales vs. change in sales)

Common Interpretation

It is important to make sure everyone in your organization recognizes what the metric means. Make sure to survey the teams and employees to make sure that the same terminology is used across the organization.

Transparent, Simple Calculation

It is important to understand how a metric is calculated. Simple calculations are the best. Try to avoid creating a compound metric that combines many factors.

Accessible, Credible Data

It is important to leverage data that can be acquired with modest effort from a source that people trust. A common mistake is pursuing the perfect metric, that is hard to gather, rather than using a close proxy.

The next step

Once you have taken the time to identify the proper KPIs for your audience, you will then need to start thinking about how those KPIs can be represented visually. To learn more, see our next article…Learning to Think Visually.