A key performance indicator (KPI) is a business metric/terminology used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization. KPIs differ per organization; business KPIs may be ‘net revenue’ or a ‘customer loyalty’ metric, while government might consider ‘unemployment rates’… But what does it all mean for Event Management?

Sometimes we face issues when it comes to that crucial moment in setting a goal, or more specifically a KPI, (Key performance indicator) in place. The first rule of KPI is that while there is definitely a KPI that is bad for all cases, there is no KPI that fits all events. Measuring, analyzing and focusing on the wrong goal will do more harm than not setting, any goals at all.

Someone else’s KPI could easily lead to poor decision-making and simply wrong decisions. Deciding on a KPI can be tough for first time goal setters… Thus we have compiled a list of guidelines to create the right and affectively appropriate KPIs tailored for your event.

Before you read further, start with an exercise: Grab a pen and paper or open a new Word document – Think of a few possible indicators and write them down, if you can’t – choose up to 3 that you believe could be your key indicators.

Now, let’s find out what effective KPI is!

  • “All bout the Money” is NOT a KPI – The bottom line ie revenue and financials are important, and should – of course – Be Measured. Although the issue with money as an indicator is simple: It will definitely tell you if you went wrong, but it’s an impossible task to isolate the exact reason for good or bad performance. So if you had revenue/profits on your list, scratch it out!
  • KPIs must be simple – …Why you wonder? Effective KPIs MUST be shared with everyone in the organisation. If you set a goal – you’d want everyone to follow it. That’s your guiding light.

    Avoid ambiguous and subjective KPIs like “good attendee feedback” or “creating successful business meetings”. Avoid things that may be well accepted at management level, but often very unclear and inaccessible to the rest of the team.

  • KPIs must be measurable and Within Your Control – It must be measurable and quantifiable so that you can compare your performance over a long period of time. But the key here is choosing something that you can control, that you can directly or indirectly change or improve.

    The ‘level of engagement’ in your speaker session is probably not a very good KPI, simply because it has a lot to do with the way the speakers choose to deliver their message, their way of giving such lectures and so on… Therefore – If you can’t control it, why are you measuring it?

  • KPIs are recurring, often timely – It means that an effective KPI can be measured on a regular basis. For every event, in-between events, monthly or 24/7. That is why:
    • The total number of visitors in a single event is not a KPI.
    • The KPI can’t be related to a specific activity in a specific event.

    Again, the reason is simple – you must have a way to evaluate it on an ongoing basis – we’re trying to find and fix the cause of bad performance, so we need to constantly measure the KPI while we optimise the process.

  • KPIs are team based – KPIs usually don’t rely on the performance or a single function of person, but rather on a team or teams working closely together. Try to assign one part of the organization that would be responsible for the measured indicator.

    For example, the amount of deals an individual sales person closed with your exhibitors is not a good KPI. You have to look at an effort lead by a team for the benefit or success of the entire operation.

  • Limit the shadow side the KPI – Any KPI will have a shadow side. While changing the process to focus on achieving a specific goal, you can easily compromise or neglect another aspect of your business. Always keep this fact in mind.

    Ask yourself – what do I compromise in order to focus on this KPI. People will do what management inspects, not necessarily what management expects.

  • KPI should be management enforced – The focus of KPIs has to be on the management team! The KPI has to be chosen to reflect a wide enough or important enough factor that can be acted upon by management. That ensures that you’re not picking a KPI for a specific team/effort but for the organization as a whole.

    That’s why some “intuitive” KPIs like meeting the ‘projected number of exhibitors’ is risky and not so effective. Think what the essence of your event is: Networking? Creating new business for your clients? Educating the community?

Dear Reader, we hope this post has satiated the curiosity that brought you here and enabled you to plan your next event’s KPIs more precisely and effectively. Thanks for stopping by and spending the time to read this.

Feel free to comment any thoughts you may have had and do share this with those who may gain from it!!!

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