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Breaking Down KPIs – Result and Driver Metrics

I first introduced KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) this past summer when discussing keys to successful project delivery, and then followed up with a look at how KPIs can alert colleges to serious threats of dwindling enrollment and possible closure in the years ahead. Continuing with this important subject, let’s delve into how your institution should develop KPIs to achieve your goals.

BlogImage_20141029The Hard Part
We have all seen software tool demonstrations that make reporting and analytics seem like magic. In actuality, developing analytics, including KPIs, require a concerted effort by the organization in order to succeed. To achieve favorable results the following steps should be considered:

  • Structure the effort
  • Obtain organizational buy in and commitment
  • Design and execute KPI program
  • Evolve or continuously improve, making adjustments when needed in order to achieve goals

Where to Begin
Institutions should approach the development of KPI metrics by starting with goals based upon their 3-5 year strategic plan. These top-level goals are commonly referred to as Result metrics. The metrics that directly affect the Result metrics are known as Driver metrics. Result and Driver metrics are developed to create the path that your institution should follow to arrive at your destination.

The following KPI example conveys the relationship between a goal and its Result and Driver metrics:

Goal Achieve 90% Graduate Career Placement within 6 months by 2017
Result Metric Career Placement percentage
Driver Metrics 1. Business Partnership Program implementation
2. Career counseling sessions conducted

When devising Result metrics, it is important to consider the following questions:

  • Are the Result metrics clearly defined?
  • Are they agreed upon?
  • Are they owned by an Executive?
  • Are they communicated across all levels of the organization?

In the end, those Result metrics must be in place to implement, execute and evolve to help your organization meet those 3–5 year goals.

Applying a Structured Methodology
After the goals and metrics are adopted and backed by the leadership team, your institution should apply a methodology, like the Balanced Scorecard that allows you to see the interplay between goals of multiple perspectives, both external and internal, and the metrics associated with them. With the scorecard, the goal is to achieve a balance among the initiatives in the four quadrants. Below is an example:

Student/Alumni Organization
  • Retention Rates
  • Graduation Rates
  • Career Placement
  • Return On Education
  • Faculty
  • Employee
  • Training
  • Communications
Financials Processes/Systems
  • Revenues
  • Expenses
  • Funding
  • Alumni Donations
  • Process Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • Data Quality
  • IT Systems

Once established, Results and Driver metrics can be assigned to each of the four quadrants. The metrics should be:

  • Communicated to all levels
  • Owned by specific parties
  • Assigned monthly accountability
  • Adjusted on a quarterly basis, if market or other changes occur

In this competitive landscape, institutions cannot afford to ignore the value KPIs present. Executives, in particular, need to commit to owning the methodology model and the belief that “Failure is not an option.” Institutions need to become more rigorous in their goal setting and the achievement of such goals to be prepared for the trends that Higher Education is currently witnessing.

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