KRA vs KPI: A Must-Read Guide on Why You Need Both

Are you looking to boost performance across your organization? Grasping the difference between Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is the place to start.

Used together, KRAs and KPIs create a masterful system for managing organizational and employee performance. This comprehensive guide will explain what they are, why they matter, and how to implement them effectively.

What Exactly Are KRAs and KPIs?

First, let‘s demystify what KRAs and KPIs refer to.

Key Result Areas (KRAs)

KRAs define the most important goals for an organization, department, or individual employee. They establish clear expectations around the few vital results someone needs to achieve.

Key result areas example

For example, an individual sales rep might have KRAs to:

  • Close 100 deals worth $1M annually
  • Maintain 95% customer retention rate

KRAs provide crystal clarity on the essential outcomes that matter most. They prevent scattering focus across too many competing priorities.

According to The Harvard Business Review, employees experience a 76% boost in motivation when they maintain clear line of sight to how their work links back to company goals. KRAs create this direct connectivity.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

While KRAs define someone‘s goals, Key Performance Indicators track quantifiable progress toward achieving them.

KPIs serve as barometers of performance, bringing goal achievement (or underachievement) out of abstraction and into hard metrics.

Key performance indicators example

For that same sales rep, relevant KPIs might include:

  • Year to date revenue
  • Deals won vs quota
  • Customer renewal rate

Whereas KRAs clarify the "what" that someone needs to accomplish, KPIs enable measuring "how well" it‘s being accomplished. They create data-backed accountability toward priorities.

According to Constellation Research, decision makers using insights from quality KPIs experience 10-25% higher performance gains across factors like productivity, profitability and market share.

This establishes why tracking KRAs and KPIs in tandem is so powerful for managing business performance. When goals and metrics align across the organization, it concentrates efforts and propels results.

Now let‘s explore best practices for putting this into practice…

Crafting Meaningful KRAs and KPIs

The keys to success are 1) establishing a shortlist of KRAs that connect back to company goals and 2) identifying quantifiable KPIs that track advancement toward them.

Here is a six step approach:


  1. Clarify company goals first – Set a foundational understanding of organizational priorities coming into the year

  2. Cascade to department objectives – Translate goals into key initiatives per department

  3. Identify individual accountabilities – Pinpoint 2-5 vital results per employee role that ladders up


  1. Determine metrics and targets – Establish quantifiable KPIs to connect goals and results

  2. Monitor periodically – Build dashboards to track KPIs dynamically

  3. Realign as needed – Review and adjust KRAs and KPIs to steer performance

Adhering to this methodology prevents common pitfalls like "key result areas sprawl" or "metric muddiness" that dilute focus on what truly matters most. It institutes symmetry up and down the org around measurable outcomes.

"The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic". — Peter Drucker

What gets measured gets managed. But in today‘s constantly shifting marketplace, yesterday‘s measures may no longer fit. Revisiting KRAs and KPIs quarterly or bi-annually ensures they continue aligning to the organization‘s highest value activities as external realities change.

KRA and KPI Examples By Role

To illustrate further, let‘s explore example KRAs and KPIs for a few common employee positions:

Sales Manager

KRAs KPIs Goals
Achieve territory revenue target Revenue vs quota $20M territory revenue
Improve sales productivity Revenue per rep 15% increase per rep
Shorten sales cycle Average days to close deal 15% reduction in days

The Sales Manager‘s central KRA is hitting an overall revenue goal. The KPIs attach cold hard metrics to the productivity and efficiency of the sales team at achieving it.

Marketing Manager

KRAs KPIs Goals
Boost brand awareness Brand recall survey % 15% increase YoY
Increase website traffic Monthly site visitors 100,000 visitors/mo
Improve campaign ROI Revenue per campaign 3:1 campaign ROI

For the Marketing Manager, KRAs tie back to brand and demand generation goals while campaign KPIs highlight marketing‘s financial contribution.

Customer Support Manager

KRAs KPIs Goals
Improve customer satisfaction Net Promoter Score (NPS) 60+ NPS score
Shorten time to resolution Avg hrs to resolve ticket <24 hr resolution time
Reduce ticket backlog # Unresolved tickets <50 open tickets

The Support Manager maintains KRAs around quality of service and responsiveness. The KPIs create accountability for progress by quantifying satisfaction, speed and workload.

Engineering Manager

KRAs KPIs Goals
Accelerate release velocity Code commits/mo 200 commits/mo
Minimize production defects Defects reported monthly <10 defects/mo
Standardize architecture % Completed initiatives 100% CI/CD, microservices

For the technical Engineering lead, KRAs connect to reliability and scalability while KPIs like commits and defects signal how effectively software best practices are being followed.

This sampling of KRAs and KPIs illustrates how they provide clear focus for disparate roles while enabling progress tracking against what matters for each.

"If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it." – Peter Drucker

Now let‘s explore how to make use of KPIs through…

Dynamic KPI Dashboards

As effective as KRAs and KPIs are at setting expectations and tracking accountability data is only useful when it is:

👁 Visible

💡 Understandable

🤔 Actionable

Modern KPI dashboarding software solutions enable this by bringing data out of static reports and spreadsheets into interactive visual interfaces.

KPI Dashboard Example

Features like drill downs, correlations, historical comparisons, alerts and annotations empower tapping into KPIs value:

  • Slice and dice data on demand
  • Uncover trends and patterns
  • Trigger notifications on thresholds
  • Collaborate around insights
  • Export presentations

According to a study by Aberdeen Group, Best In Class organizations leveraging these capabilities through dashboards experience on average:

➕ 13.6% year over year increase in customer retention

➕ 18.7% year over year increase in team productivity

➕ 9.2% higher profit margins

This quantifies the bottom line impact of not just tracking KPIs, but making them visible and actionable through modernized reporting.

So in summary, by linking organizational goals to individual accountabilities, then tracking advancement with robust analytics tools you institute a "closed loop performance management system" tuned for today‘s dynamic operating environments.

KRAs → Expectations

KPIs → Measurements

Dashboards → Visibility

It‘s a masterful combination for accelerating results.

On the flip side, lack of measurement causes management miscues. According to Harvard Business Review:

❌ 67% of employees admit to not understanding their company‘s strategic priorities

This further showcases why instituting lockstep KRAs → KPIs → Dashboards alignment is truly game changing from an organizational leadership perspective.

Bringing It All Together

KRAs provide goals. KPIs enable tracking progression towards those goals through quantifiable metrics. Dashboards spotlight where outcomes stand versus targeted benchmarks.

Used holistically, this creates a closed-loop system for managing performance dynamism not possible otherwise.

So whether just starting to build out this discipline or looking to improve an existing process, properly relating Key Result Areas and Key Performance Indicators backed by data visualizations provides a foundational way forward.

It institutes clear line of sight from board room strategic objectives to front line accountabilities. It makes traction against priorities transparent and actionable through rich analytics.

For organizations looking to drive higher and faster returns, it‘s the ultimate game plan.

So in summary:

  • KRAs set clear goals and expectations

  • KPIs track measurable progress against goals

  • Dashboards spotlight trends to double down or course correct

Now equipped with this actionable blueprint on KRAs, KPIs and dashboards go forth, lead authentically, measure fanatically and perform deliberately. The rest will unfold accordingly.