KPI Cheat Sheet – Making KPIs and Measures Easy to Understand

Most KPIs are really badly documented, if they are documented at all

No matter which industry, I find three things are consistently true of KPIs

  1. KPIs and measures are not fully understood by all of those using them
  2. KPIs and measures are poorly documented
  3. The documentation that does exist is almost unreadable

Performance measurement and performance improvement are two peas in the same pod. One powerful process improvement approach, borrowed from the world of improvement, is the ‘Cheat sheet’ or ‘Tips Sheet’. These are simple one-page guides that tell you what you need to know on a subject or process without the long-winded approach of procedures or instruction manuals. Cheat sheets are different from KPI Definitions (which take things down to a quasi-legal level of detail).

KPI Cheat Sheets – A fairly painless solution

Well designed cheat sheets are:

  • One sheet (often an A3 printout)
  • Visual, where appropriate
  • Use simple language
  • Well laid-out and easy to navigate
  • Clarified using practical worked examples

A good KPI Cheat Sheet can clear up all three problems outlined, in one go. Here’s an example KPI Cheat Sheet I created for OEE, a commonly used efficiency measure.

cheat sheet OEE KPI

Here’s a link to download a more print-friendly PDF version.

The key thing with a cheat sheet is that it is useful and accurate.

Key features of a KPI Cheat Sheet
Feature Description
Purpose What the Cheat Sheet is supposed to help you cheat at
Pre-Requisites What you need to know. Systems or software you need to have access to
Plain English description A non-technical outline of how the measure/KPI works
Core calculation The guts of the calculation including the maths/formula(s)
Tips Stuff that will make it quicker- help you avoid pitfalls or errors
Worked example Step-by-step example with real values
Core concepts If a KPI has non-obvious concepts these may need further explanation. Doing this outside of the Core Calculation helps prevent the reader being overloaded
Who to feedback to If there are mistakes updates or queries make it easy for the reader to get in touch with a named owner
Version number date etc. Stops all the embarrassing gaffes where you have someone using an out of date or obsolete version of your lovely KPI Cheat Sheet
Screen grabs Pictures really help make things clear. Include them where they will aid understanding
A few icons Clean simple icons will help the user navigate the page quickly if they are used consistently across multiple KPI Cheat Sheets.
Above all, a cheat sheet should be useful and accurate.

Ready to have a go at creating your own? Need a blank template? Buy me a coffee and you can download it in a bundle of three formats – Visio (MS Windows), Excel (MS Windows and OSX) and OmniGraffle (OSX)

Download the KPI Cheat Sheet template set now:

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