KRAs, goals, objectives and KPIs

  1. Guides
  2. Operational Planning
  3. KRAs, goals, objectives and KPIs

What are they and what's the difference?

  • KRAs - KRA stands for Key Result Area. They are the broad areas in which you are expected to deliver results (e.g. customer service, quality, safety).
  • Goals - goals are the specific outcomes that you are trying to achieve within each key result area, within a given time period. Goals are the foundation of your plan and need to be set at the start of the planning process - after all, you need to know your destination in order to a figure out how to get there.
  • Objectives - objectives are sub components of a goal. For example, to achieve one goal there may be four major pieces of work to be completed. Completion of one of these pieces of work would be an objective. Objectives can be set later in the planning process once you have defined all of the tasks to be completed.
  • KPIs - KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. KPIs are metrics that are used to monitor performance in key areas on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.


To show how KRAs, goals, objectives and KPIs all link together, let's use a simplified example of a manager responsible for the construction of a railway...

  • KRA: Transport network development and optimisation.
  • Goal: Build a railway connecting 4 suburbs by end of Dec 2019.
  • Objectives:
    • Build line for suburb #1 by end of March 2019.
    • Build line for suburb #2 by end of June 2019.
    • Build line for suburb #3 by end of September 2019.
    • Build line for suburb #4 by end of December 2019.
  • KPI: 50 railway sleepers laid per business day.

Setting goals and objectives

As mentioned earlier, goals form the foundation of your plan and need to be set at the start of the planning process. Objectives can be set once the plan has been fleshed out and you have a clear understanding of the tasks that need to be completed, by when, and in what order.

SMART goals

When setting goals and objectives, you need to make sure that they specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

  • Specific - Does your goal/objective adequately describe what needs to be achieved?
  • Measurable - Does your goal/objective specify the success criteria?
  • Achievable - Is the goal/objective within your control to influence? Is it achievable with the available resources and within the timeframe?
  • Relevant - Does the goal/objective actually contribute to what you want to achieve?
  • Time-bound - Is the goal/objective grounded with a timeframe (i.e. a deadline)?


Sarah manages a call centre. As part of an organisation-wide customer service initiative, Sarah has been asked to decrease the amount of time it takes for customer service staff to handle customer enquiries and resolve customer issues by 10%. Sarah is expected to have achieved this by the end of quarter 4 this financial year.

  • Not SMART - Decrease call handling time.
  • SMART - Decrease call handling time by 10% by end of Q4 FY18.
KRAs, goals, objectives and KPIs

Setting KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an invaluable tool for monitoring whether you are on track to achieve your goals and identifying issues before they become big issues.

The great thing with KPIs is that you can measure all sorts of things that impact success. An example of this might be a factory production line. Let's say your goal is:

  • Goal: Increase output by 15% by Dec 2019

To set KPIs for this goal, you'd probably start with the most direct and have a measure of daily output...

  • KPI #1 - Quantity of units produced per day

But there's also other things you could measure.  A key part of the process is that your machines are functioning well - every time they breakdown, your output drops.  So you might also want to measure machine inactivity...   

  • KPI #2 - Hours/minutes of machine inactivity per day

Another part of the process that is critical to your success is the defect rate.  As defects increase (i.e. units that don't meet quality standards), output goes down.  So you might also want to measure the defect rate...  

  • KPI #3 - Defect rate (% of total output)

Tips for setting KPIs

There are two things that you need to decide on when setting KPIs:

  1. What are the key areas that I need to measure? - determine which areas significantly impact performance. You don't need to measure everything, just the key areas. For examples, see below.
  2. What does success look like? - determine what needs to be achieved in that particular area and over what time period (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly). Just remember that the shorter the measurement period, the quicker you can take corrective action.


Below are a number of examples of KPIs for various departments and industries.

Customer service

  • Average queue time of incoming phone calls
  • Inbound abandon rate
  • Inbound availability rate
  • Inbound average talk time
  • Inbound calls handled per handler per hour
  • Number of complaints
  • Percentage of customer service requests answered in given timeframe
  • Percentage of calls transferred
  • Total calling time per day/week/month

Human resources

  • Actual vs budgeted cost of hire
  • Voluntary employee turnover rate
  • Average length of service of all current employees
  • Average number of training hours per employee
  • Average time to competence
  • Cost per hire Hiring manager satisfaction
  • Job vacancies as a percentage of all positions
  • Percentage of new hire retention
  • Return on investment (ROI) of training
  • Time to fill


    Average number of activities (calls, meetings, etc.) to close a deal
  • Average deal size
  • Closing ratio
  • Customer acquisitions costs as a percentage of sales value
  • Customer purchase frequency
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Gross margin per sales person
  • Percentage of converted opportunities
  • Pipeline by sales stage
  • Qualified leads
  • Qualified opportunities
  • Revenue per sales person
  • Sales capacity
  • Sales cycle time
  • Sales person turnover
  • Unweighted sum of deal size in sales pipeline
  • Value of sales lost
  • Win/loss ratio percentage


  • Asset utilisation
  • Cycle time
  • Faults detected prior to failure
  • Forecasts of production quantities, etc. Increase/decrease in plant downtime
  • Maintenance cost per unit
  • Manufacturing cost per unit
  • Mean time to repair
  • Number of production assignments completed on time
  • On-time orders
  • On-time shipping
  • Percentage increase in productivity
  • Percentage reduction in defect rates
  • Percentage reduction in downtime
  • Productivity
  • Quality improvement
  • Time from order to shipment
  • Time on floor to be packed

Learn more

Next: Operational Planning - Task planning