Key Performance Indicator (KPI) are difficult. Setting-up proper KPIs is even more difficult. And usually, it takes a lot of time.

Very often it happens that we talk to airlines and hear this story: “We setup KPIs, visualised them on a dashboard — but after a few days no-one paid attention to the dashboard anymore.”

That sounds strange and demotivating the first sight. You put lots of effort in data analysis, development work and KPI definition and what’s the result? Nobody seems to be interested in it.

Of course, from time to time colleagues take a look at the dashboard — especially during irregularities or disruptions.

But the main goal of creating a situational awareness where people constantly and actively monitor how the operations is performing is not achieved.

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What happens next? Not rarely, a follow-up project is initiated to either integrate more KPIs or b) completely re-design the dashboard.
But also option c) is common: Airlines or responsible teams resign and come to the conclusion that the dashboard or KPIs in general are not relevant.

Frankly speaking, option c) is always the wrong way. But also option a) and b) are usually not necessary.

In fact, there are 4 small tweaks you can do, that will immediately and directly increase the relevance of your KPIs and the dashboard in general.

Context is missing

These tweaks concentrate on the fact, that – very often – KPI dashboards provide KPIs but without any context.

And that, directly, leads to the fact that people are not able to assess the information they are viewing — and subsequently lose any interest.

To give you an example: I’ve seen many dashboards which provide the on-time performance (OTP). That means you can read one value: for example 87.9%.
Although the KPI is totally fine, many viewers can’t put that KPI in a context.

So, here are the 4 tweaks that helps to massively increase the value of an KPI. And I can already promise that people will pay much more attention to your dashboard — once implemented.

Tweak 1 — Provide an average

Besides the actual value you should always provide an average. This is the easiest way to provide context to people.

The average can focus on a certain period — depending on the KPI type. Usually, a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly average make sense. Attention: Concentrate on one period instead of providing various average values — which would confuse viewer.
For OTP we usually take a monthly average or the average of the last year.

An average will easily help people to understand and assess a KPI: Taking the example from above, enriched by an average, you can hear somethin like this: Usually, the OTP is 92.4% but today it is 87.9 — that’s far below average.

Tweak 2 — Include target values

Target values are a simple method to enrich KPIs and provide context. And the best thing is that most KPIs already have a corporate or business target.

Target values helps viewer enormously to assess a KPI. At the same time it helps to create awareness in case a KPI performs below target.

Again, companies often have more than one target value. Differentiated according the time periods, business units, etc. And again, it is important focus on one target value only.

Tweak 3 — Color Enrichment

Based on both, the average but also target values, you can even take one more step and adjust the design accordingly: A KPI which is below a target or below average turns red, one above target or average turns green. And voila, your dashboard is much more interesting. And yes, you can use even more colors. But attention again: Too many colors are confusing to the viewer.

Tweak 4 — Include a trend

For many KPIs not only the average is interesting but also the latest trend. Has the KPI improved or declined?

Again for each KPI the required period has to be defined. For many real-time KPIs we show the value of -3 hours. But this of course vary according and depending on the type of information you are visualizing on the dashboard.

Conclusion

From our experience and projects, we’ve seen that these little tweaks really can make the difference and have a much higher impact than including additional KPIs or a re-design.

Additionally, these tweaks are normally easy to implement. No huge development nor data is needed.

Just give it try — you will be amazed of the results.

And by the way: That’s how a KPI can look, if all 4 tweaks are considered:


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Download our Airline Operations KPI Guide

The KPI Guide introduces 38 different KPIs. Each KPI is listed with a short description / explanation as well as an examples and specific notes.