KPI Tree Checklist – Creating KPI Trees

The KPI Tree Checklist – getting it right first time

In earlier posts I explained the value of KPI Trees and how to build a KPI Tree. Here’s a useful KPI Tree checklist to see you through the process of creating one. This, along with the other articles on KPI Trees, are in my book KPI Checklists.

KPI Tree Checklist 1- Preparation checklist

  • Become fully familiar with the strategy of your organisation.
  • Become fully familiar with the strategic objectives of your organisation.
  • Double-check those strategic objectives with all engaged senior stakeholders – if there are differences then they must be ironed out before the sessions.
  • Check that there are between two and seven strategic objectives – if there are more than this, it is likely that lower-level tactical objectives are in the mix.
  • Gain support and approval to hold a session from senior stakeholder(s).
  • Pull together some example outputs from previous sessions (or use the examples included in this book).
  • Gather your stakeholders together in groups.
  • Select groups of between three and nine people per session (certainly no more than twelve).
  • Select group to have a good mix of seniority.
  • Organise two two-hour long workshop sessions, separated by between one and five working days.

KPI Tree Checklist 2- Practicalities checklist

  • Book meeting rooms for both sessions.
  • Create briefing email and send out invitations.
  • Base group selection around broadly similar remits.
  • Make sure there are desks available for them to work at.
  • Ensure a whiteboard is available, if possible.
  • Print out examples and worksheets.
  • Take Post-Its and pens to the session. A camera phone can also be useful.

KPI Tree Checklist 3 – The first session checklist

  • Explain the approach.
  • Identify the strategic objectives – agree these with the group.
  • Give the background to the session.
  • Show a finished example.
  • Get the group to do a simple (non-work) exercise example.
  • Explain the three link types: cause-effect, conflict and companion.
  • Help the group work through a more complex non-work example, including link types.
  • Get the group to develop a draft KPI Tree specific to the group’s relevant organisational strategic objectives.
  • Develop one tree per objective. The trees will almost certainly cross-link so it makes sense to create them using one large sheet if possible.


Tip: If the participants start to get anxious about the number of potential measures this process is throwing up, then it’s worth reassuring them that the whole point of this step is to generate the longlist of measures. You will absolutely not simply take this longlist and attempt to implement it as it stands at the end of this session. There is a critical next step which involves shortlisting candidate measures.


Follow-up work
  • Write up the trees from all groups and merge into one tree.
  • Add notes to show where decisions have had to be made on the merge.


KPI Tree Checklist 4- The second session checklist

  • Review the merged tree.
  • Are there important factors that will not register with any of the measures identified? If so, then you have missed something out of your tree.
  • Is there a way of making a measure go the `right’ way, but by doing something stupid?
  • Add any further branches that need adding.
  • Make corrections and discuss the merged tree.


The second session is normally quite straightforward as the group will be fresh, familiar with the purpose of the session and used to working as a group.

Follow up work
  • Finish drawing up the trees from the second session (there may be several trees, but there should be only one version for each objective, the various versions having been merged after the first session).
  • Add explanatory notes as needed.
  • Circulate to the participants for final approval. State that the absence of a response will be taken as implicit approval.

Tools for building KPI Trees

There are several choices for drawing diagrams. Key points you need to consider when choosing one are:

  • Does the read/edit software have to be a standard desktop application (like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint) or do you have the chance to install specialist applications like Visio or Aris?
  • What is the IT skill level of the users?
  • Do you have to attach meta-data to objects? If so, you will need to go for a more specialist diagram package e.g. Visio.
  • Is there a company standard currently in use for this type of diagram? E.g. Mindjet, mind mapping software.
  • Will the software be used on a variety of operating systems? Some applications like OpenOffice, Freemind and Mindjet cover two or more operating systems. Others, such as Visio, tie you firmly to one platform.
  • What level of annotation and general sophistication are you looking for? How many nodes/branches do you need to fit in?

For more detail on the KPI Tree approach and choosing the best KPI, check out my book KPI Checklists using the link below.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.