How to Use Key Performance Indicators in your Strategic Plan

How to Use Key Performance Indicators in your Strategic Plan

Does your strategic plan utilise Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? 

KPIs are an important and useful planning tool that can be used in a strategic plan to provide a greater sense of purpose and to demonstrate tangible results. A successful strategic plan will include several KPIs to manage and track progress and success.

When creating your Association’s strategic plan, it can be helpful to begin with the goals you want to achieve and considering them in terms of outcomes with quantifiable results.

What are Key Performance Indicators?

KPIs are quantifiable measures of performance for a specific objective. They are used by organisations and companies around the world to provide targets to work towards and to track progress towards organisational and individual goals.

KPIs provide tangible outcomes so that an Association can see how they are performing against their stated objectives and make changes as needed to ensure they can reach their goals.

When creating your KPIs, it can be helpful to structure them as follows:

  • Measure – Each KPI should have a measure, or a way of quantifying the objective. This could be expressed in monetary value (e.g., how much revenue is raised during a quarter), in numbers of people (e.g., how many people attend a conference), in how much traction is received by a campaign (e.g., how many people click through on a marketing email), or in another quantifiable way. The best KPIs are the easiest to consider in terms of numbers and metrics.
  • Target – KPIs need to have a target that matches their measure. For example, you may have a goal for how many new members you want to acquire in a financial quarter, or how much money you want to raise from a specific initiative. When setting targets, it’s important to consider the other factors at play, including the time frame of the goal.
  • Data Source – Ensure that your KPI has a clearly defined data source so that you can accurately measure success. Without a way of counting things like new members, funds raised or open rates, there is no way of knowing if you have reached your target and the KPI is therefore not useful.
  • Reporting Frequency – As you set your KPIs, decide how often you will check their progress and report on their success. Not all your KPIs will need to be considered monthly, while others will need to be closely monitored. 

How are KPIs used in Strategic Planning?

The setting of Key Performance Indicators is an important aspect of the strategic planning process and plays a major role in the measuring of progress for the Association.

In the strategic planning process, KPIs can be assigned to different objectives to make these goals measurable and add specific timeframes.

For example, if one of the deliverables in your Association strategic plan for the next financial year is to increase the quality of the programs you offer to your membership base, some of the KPIs associated with this goal may be:

  • The number of members who take part in programs or attend events
  • The feedback from members in response to a tailored survey
  • The increase in revenue generated by programs
  • The number of requests for the program to be run again

It is equally important that the results against these KPIs are recorded and reported on. Considering the success of initiatives is a key part of an Association’s strategic planning.

The Board needs to be prepared with comprehensive data that shows what has been successful and what hasn’t worked and requires further improvements. This will allow you to make informed decisions about the next iteration of your strategic plan.

Examples of KPIs

If your Association is ready to begin including KPIs in your strategic planning, you want to identify some key areas that are ideal for monitoring. Ideally, each key strategic area of your plan should each be assigned at least one KPI.

The ten areas of best practice for Associations are:

  • Governance
  • Strategic Planning
  • Leadership
  • Management System
  • People
  • Volunteers and Committees
  • Financial Performance
  • Risk Management
  • Members and Clients
  • Information Technology

Not all of these areas will be suited to KPIs. Others may have KPIs that are not relevant to your strategic planning; many organisations will have KPIs associated with the performance of individuals, and you may want to consider this for your leadership team and other people in the Association.

Some examples of how KPIs could be used for these key areas include:

  • Financial KPIs – growth in revenue, profit margin, operational cash flow
  • Member KPIs – number of members retained, number of members acquired
  • Operational KPIs – time to market for resources, employee satisfaction rating, volunteer satisfaction rating, employee churn rate
  • Marketing KPIs – monthly website traffic, conversion rate for emails, blog articles published each month, social media posts created each month. 


About the Author: Nick Koerbin (Executive Director, AES)

With over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, the National Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can create more effective strategies and implementation plans.

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