Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

By Aliu A. Onifade

Key performance indicators (KPIs)  are defined as information by which the functional quality of institutions or systems may be measured and evaluated (Rowe and Lievesley, 2002).

Mainly private organisations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate business processes, departments, and employee performance in achieving set organisational and business objectives.

KPIs are being increasingly utilised not only by the private organisations but also by schools and school districts. The reason behind the increase in utilisation of KPIs is an increase in the interest of the government at various levels to ensure efficient and effective utilisation of resources for the evaluation of student learning outcomes and employee satisfaction. The main objective of the government is to improve the overall educational quality of higher institutions (Zakaria et al., 2011).

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) : Introduction

From a management perspective, KPIs are developed, structured, and aimed at effective and efficient utilisation of available organisational resources (i.e., human, capital, technology, etc.) to achieve organisational goals and objectives.

In particular, KPIs are essential components of the organisational performance management process. Furthermore, this involves the identification of specific business goals followed by a set of processes. These processes are not only defined to measure business success but also to develop an effective organisational strategy for continuous business growth (Zakaria et al., 2011).

Management Process of Key Performance Indicators.

The process management consists of discrete concrete steps which involve: identification of the business goal, development of KPIs for measuring various organizational activities with the attainment of the set goal, continuous measurement of business performance through defined KPIs, analysis of the set performance metrics to make a decision relating the organizational goal.

KPIs serve various purposes, the most notable of which are for monitoring, policy formulation, target-setting, evaluating, and reforming (Rowe and Lievesley, 2002). Particularly, large number of private organisations commonly use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their business processes.

In general, KPI information allows organizational elements to

(1) formulate strategic policy priorities and their related targets,

(2) specify achievable objectives,

(3) implement them, and

(4) evaluate the extent to which those target objectives have been attained (Rowe and Lievesley, 2002).

KPIS in Public Sector

The use of KPIs in the public sector is becoming increasingly popular to measure the success of different public sector services and processes. Intention is to infuse private sector philosophy in the public sector by measuring and improving government service deliverability (George, 2019).

For example, the implementation of KPIs in the public sector in Malaysia mainly on the frontline agency and found that the use of KPIs shows a positive  impact  on  the  overall performance  of  the National  Registration  Department as  well  as  on the performance of their  employees (Zakaria et al., 2011).

Public organisations use KPIs to measure the three main aspects of their service delivery; Firstly, to measure the effectiveness and the efficiency of the internal work process to deliver the services. Secondly, to measure the productivity of human resources to provide and deliver services to customers. Thirdly, to measure the customer’s satisfaction towards services received.

However, there is a fundamental difference between the implementations of KPIs in the public and private sectors. Unlike the private sector, public agencies do not measure their KPIs in terms of financial capabilities. This is because, in their business, there are no finances and expenses in providing and delivering services to customers (Zakaria et al., 2011).

KPIS in Higher Institutions

Higher education systems and institutions worldwide have undergone extensive reform and change over the past twenty-five years with the agenda of improving quality education (Chalmers, 2008).

In fact, todays public schools also adopt a vast number of KPIs. This, however, does not necessarily lead to improved learning outcomes for student.

For instance, performance indicators in higher education have focused mainly on research output (number of published articles) as a key attribute of the activities of institution and their components (Ramsden, 1991).

Research-focused PIs largely ignore the contribution of the teaching function in the evaluation of academic performance of higher institutions.


To sum up, key performance indicator helps to measure the performance of delivery of educative programmes and activities in both public sectors and higher institutions. Despite the vast number of KPIs adopted today by public schools, this does not necessarily lead to improved learning outcomes for student as in the practical case.


Chalmers, D., 2008. Teaching and Learning Quality Indicators in Australian Universities, in: Outcomes of Higher Education: Quality Relevance and Impact. Paris, France, p. 18.

George, K.M., 2019. Key Performance Indicators’ Effects on Public Sector Infrastructure Project Efficiency in Grenada. Walden University.

Ramsden, P., 1991. A performance indicator of teaching quality in higher education: The Course Experience Questionnaire. Vol. 16, 129–150.

Rowe, K., Lievesley, D., 2002. Constructing and Using Educational Performance Indicators, in: Educational Performance Indicators: Their Construction and Use. Presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) regional conference, ACER, Melbourne, p. pg. 25.

Zakaria, Zaherawati, Yaacob, M. ‘Aini, Yaacob, Z., Noordin, N., Sawal, M.Z.H.M., Zakaria, Zuriawati, 2011. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the Public Sector: A Study in Malaysia. Asian Social Science 7, p102.