Data Visualization Storyboard: Documenting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

By Mico Yuk, Stephanie Diamond

Understanding the key measurements that your audience must view, monitor, or track is the last step in developing your story. In simple terms, a key performance indicator (KPI) is a core measurement that ties directly to the company’s goals.

Conducting scoping workshops

The best way to work with your audience to document their KPIs is to conduct a series of scoping workshops. Scoping is an event where a group of identified super users from each line of business gather (physically or remotely) to openly discuss and define their business requirements. These workshops can be done virtually or (preferably) in person.

Although conducting these workshops may seem to be innocent, if not handled properly, they can quickly turn into a never-ending list of requirements that will never fit into a single data visualization.

After all of the KPIs are identified and documented, it’s important to ask the following question about each one:

Does this KPI help the user achieve one or more of her goals?

If the answer is yes, proceed to collect and document the next KPI. If the answer is no or undecided, question the relevance of the KPI to this data visualization project and try to discourage group members from putting any useless information in the data visualization.

A data visualization should tell a clear story. Like any story in the multimedia world, it should have a clear narrative that includes a plot (in this case, achieving goals).

Understanding the key measurements that must be viewed, monitored, or tracked by your audience members is a vital but tricky process. Most users want to see more data than they actually need to address their problems.

Identifying example KPIs

The following table shows an example of some well-defined KPIs that could arise from a scoping workshop.

KPIs Definitions
Sales Expected revenue based on all customer transactions
Annual goal Sales revenue target that determines bonus
Probability of hitting annual goal Calculates the chances of the sales rep hitting their annual
Deductions Expected revenue not paid by customer
Available trade spend Amount of money available to use in customer promotions

By now, you should have a clear idea of what your audience members need to see to accomplish their goals.