Here is our five step process for setting performance metrics, criteria for success and targets.

Step One – Research Industry Standards

Research what other comparable institutions and departments are using as metrics. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are great resources to determine what to focus on and help define success levels. It is a type of performance measurement that helps you understand how your organization, department or institution is performing and allows you to understand if you’re headed in the right direction with your strategy.

KPI Examples

  • Average Age of Buildings: Renovating older buildings effectively lowers the building’s age. Thus, tracking the age of your buildings on campus helps ensure that adequate maintenance is being provided and that they are fully functional.
  • Social Media Engagement: The analytics you will need for this metric are often available through the social media platforms your school chooses to employ (like Facebook, for example), and can show how well your social media department is performing.
  • Percentage Of Students Living on Campus: Tracking this rate allows administrators to ensure that there is enough room (or too much room) for students on campus and that this stays in line with the long-term strategy of the institution.
  • Persistence Rates: Understand and monitor the factors that affect students’ persistence on to the next semester.
  • Student Engagement: The number of students who study abroad, live on campus, participate in research activities, co-curricular activities, intramurals, etc.
  • Student Outcomes: Keep track of students after graduation to see where their education takes them.
  • Graduation Rates: The percentage of students who graduate and the amount of time it takes them.
  • Disproportionate Impact: Measure gaps between certain cohorts and your overall student body such as Greek vs non-Greek students
  • Retention Rates: What percentage of students return for the next semester?
  • Marketing Programs: Measure the success of each marketing campaign.

Step Two – Establish Baseline Data (if needed)

Baseline data provides a beginning point to compare future data. It represents the current performance standard that is used to determine if there is continuous improvement after making changes and adjustments.


  • Gather at least two to three years of data on the performance that is being measured.
  • Ensure the data is collected during the same time period or within similar environments to have an accurate comparison.
  • Data collection should be ongoing to identify progression.

Step Three – Determine the Information That Needs to be Collected

When determining effectiveness and learning, it is important to understand what information you are seeking. Having clarity on the type of measure and the type of information you are seeking helps to define success standards and targets.

Key Questions for the Data Collection Process

  • Does participation always imply effectiveness?
  • Does user satisfaction always imply effectiveness?
  • Does user estimation of the value of your services always imply effectiveness?
  • What information are you going to collect?
  • Things to consider:
    • Audience
    • Measures (Quantitative/qualitative)
    • Timeframe

Step Four – What Method Will You Use to Collect Data?

  • In-person vs online
  • Paper vs technology
  • Instrument? Survey, gamification, reflection

Step Five – Who is Responsible for Data Collection and Evaluation?

Designate a person or team to maintain accountability in the data’s collection, storage process and accessibility to all team members.