The Importance of Assessments and Indicators for Business Success

If January is the time for dreaming up where you want to see yourself and your business go throughout the year, then April is the perfect time to check in with those dreams and big goals. There are many ways this can be done, but taking a self assessment and setting performance indicators can help you stay on the track to seeing your ideas turn into a success.

Before we dive into why these assessments and indicators are important, let’s make sure we are on the same page of our definitions.

Self Assessment: Evaluation of oneself or one’s actions and attitudes, in particular, of one’s performance at a job or learning task considered in relation to an objective standard.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): A quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, etc. in meeting objectives for performance.

Why are assessments and indicators important?

Simple things like checking in on progress throughout the year and maintaining a pulse on daily operation statistics may seem like an insignificant detail that can be set on the “to do later” pile. And many do pass it over and put it on a lower priority. However, keeping track of progress throughout the year will not only intercept bottlenecks and issues with business progression, but it will also help you define what you and your team are truly capable of. 

For example: 

You want to scale your operations to an entire region rather than focusing solely on a small, localized segment of customers. Knowing your capabilities, both as an individual and a team, through an assessment will allow you to understand your limitations, gaps to be filled, and areas of growth you can focus on to reach the scale you want. Establishing KPIs will allow you to measure the progress of each actionable step for growth to ensure each improvement initiative is moving forward.

The timeline is up to you

One thing to realize is that it’s completely up to you when you want to do self assessments and check in on your KPIs. The more robust a goal, the more often you will want to check in. At Vela, we like to do a full self assessment of our team, our business, and our brand trajectory annually. This is oftentimes looped into our planning for the following year. After seeing where we can improve and where we are excelling – we will set key result targets of where we want to see the organization grow. After setting the key results, the KPIs are set as the stepping stones to reach said results. We check in on our KPIs at least quarterly, but oftentimes monthly.

How to execute a self assessment

There are countless ways to audit your business’s performance and your own strengths and weaknesses. You can hire a coach, you can read numerous articles and books, and you can simply fill out a questionnaire. The important thing is to get yourself thinking about the little things that may fall to the wayside through the busyness of day-to-day operations.

Assessment questionnaires vary from business to business, industry to industry. However, there are typically four segments to each organization which you will want to focus on. These are: Administrative, Financial, Customer Relations, and Marketing. Each of these quadrants of business development will have overlap and will build on each other to get to the core questions you will need to answer about your business and processes.

Here are 5 great questions to get you started.

  1. What do customers say/think about your overall customer experience?
  2. What are your profitability trends over the last 3 years?
  3. What is your competitive advantage in the market?
  4. Are your processes efficient?
  5. Do you have the resources in place to scale?

How to establish key performance indicators

Similar to an assessment, KPI planning is often broken down into sections. Common indicators fall into the following categories: financials, customer interactions, processes, team. Before you get started, understand that this isn’t a task meant for brainstorming. Idea generation has already been accomplished in your goal setting you have done during your annual planning at the beginning of the year. KPIs are meant to be measurable to determine the success of something that will contribute to the goals you’ve set.

Here are five simple steps to set your KPIs.

  1. Start at the end. What does success look like and work your way backwards step by step to the indicators that need to happen to reach your goal.
  2. Establish the indicator using concise, actionable language with quantifiable results. This means staying away from vague descriptions like “grow customer base” and making it into something specific like: increase walk-in customer traffic by 20% in one year.
  3. Assign the KPI to an owner. Typically, this “owner” will go to a project manager, however there are a lot of instances where you may be a “one man band”. We get that! Add it to your task list to check in frequently on your indicators and create visuals as needed.
  4. Define the link to your goals clearly. This way, when you do the tactical work that needs to be accomplished to hit your KPIs, you are reminded of why you are doing what you are doing for a big-picture view.
  5. Last but not least, you will want buy-in from the rest of your team. KPIs only work when they are transparent and understood by the team in its entirety. 

No matter how in-depth your planning is, or how detailed you want to be when reflecting on Q1 accomplishments, it is important to pause. Take the time to revel in the great things you have done so far, and refresh your mindset to continue thriving for the rest of the year.

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