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Why nobody pays attention to your KPIs and a step-by-step guideline on how to improve airline KPIs

I'm pretty sure you know that situation. You've spent so much to set up a KPI dashboard — and what's the result? After a few days, nobody pays attention to it. With this article, I will show you how to improve airline KPIs. Certainly, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are complex. However, 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 set up KPIs, visualized 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 into data analysis, development work, and KPI definition, and what’s the result? Nobody seems to be interested in it. But, of course, colleagues take a look at the dashboard from time to time — especially during irregularities or disruptions.

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

What happens next? A follow-up project is rarely initiated to integrate more KPIs or b) re-design the dashboard entirely.
But also option c) is typical: Airlines or responsible teams resign and conclude that the dashboard or KPIs, in general, are not relevant.

Option c) is always the wrong way. But also option a) and b) are usually not necessary. However, you can do four minor tweaks 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 KPI dashboards often provide KPIs without any context. And that directly leads to the fact that people cannot assess the information they are viewing — and subsequently lose any interest.

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

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

How to improve airline KPIs — Provide an average

Always provide an average besides the actual value. This is the easiest way to give context to people. For example, the average can focus on a specific period — depending on the KPI type.

Usually, a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly average makes sense. Attention: Concentrate on one period instead of providing various average values — which would confuse the viewer.

For OTP, we usually take a monthly average or the average of the last year. An average will quickly help people to understand and assess a KPI. Then, taking the example from above, enriched by an average, people will start to talk about the KPI. You will regularly hear people say things like: “Usually, the OTP is 92.4%, but it is 87.9% today. That’s far below average.”

How to improve airline KPIs — Include target values

Another tactic of how to improve airline KPIs is target values. Target values are a straightforward method to enrich KPIs and provide context. And the best thing: Most KPIs already have a corporate or business target.

Target values help viewers enormously to assess a KPI. At the same time, it helps to create awareness in case a KPI performs below target. But, again, companies often have more than one target value. For example, they differ according to periods, business units, etc. And yet, it is essential to focus on one target value only.

How to improve airline KPIs — Color Enrichment

Based on the average and target values, you can even take one more step and adjust the design accordingly. For example, a KPI which is below a target or below average turns red. One above target or average turns green.

Voila, your dashboard is much more exciting and insightful. And yes, you can use even more colors. But attention again: Too many colors are confusing to the viewer.

How to improve airline KPIs — Include a trend

The final tip on how to improve airline KPIs is to include a trend. For many KPIs, not only the average is exciting but also the latest trend. To answer the question: Has the KPI improved or declined?

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


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

Additionally, these tweaks are generally easy to implement. No massive development nor data is needed. Just give it a try — you will be amazed by the results.

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

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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