What are Key Performance Indicators?
Before reading the six steps to developing Key Performance Indicators ("KPIs"), you should understand what they are and how legal aid organizations should use them. KPIs are metrics that can evaluate the successes and shortcomings of an organization. In the case of legal aid organizations, common examples include the number of new clients per month, types of legal cases, and tracking the average income of each applicant. However, there are no limits to the KPIs you can use. The most effective KPIs are those that are designed, implemented, and analyzed with your specific organization in mind.
The Six Steps to Designing KPIs to Fit Your Organization's Goals
KPIs should be designed to fit your specific organization, but creating them can be daunting. These six steps, which are partly based on an intrafocus's report on developing meaningful KPIs, can help your organization get started.
Step 1: Create an Objective.
The first step in designing a KPI is to think about what objectives you would like to achieve. For example, you may find that attorneys at your organization are routinely running out of time to complete their weekly workload. If this was your problem, your objective could be to improve your attorneys' time allocation.
Alternatively, your objective could be client-facing. If you are implementing a new triage system, your goal may be to increase the rate of completion of the application. For example, this was a consideration for the universal triage system we are implementing in collaboration with Legal Aid of Wyoming.
Step 2: Identify Metrics
The second step in designing an effective KPI is to create quantifiable metrics that can track your progress on an objective. For example, to improve your attorneys' time allocation, you could track the number of hours spent per work task (i.e., intake, court representation, consultation), and the hours of work still needed to complete their workload. Meanwhile, to increase the completion rate on your triage application, you may decide to track where, in the form, users are dropping off.
Step 3: Define the Control Group.
The third step is to define a control group for your KPIs. To evaluate the effectiveness of your action steps, you will need a baseline metric. For example, you could track your attorneys' time allocation and remaining workload for two to three weeks before implementing any changes. Similarly, you may let users complete your triage application for a few weeks before implementing any changes.
Step 4: Upload Data into a System.
Nowadays, endless programs can track and store your data. For example, your organization may use case management software, such as Clio, which automatically tracks the hours that your attorneys are spending on each task. Similarly, your online application may be synced with Google Analytics, which automatically tracks what pages users are leaving the form. Regardless of where you store your data, ensure that the program is accessible, easily navigable, and goal-oriented.
Step 5: Interpret and Display Data.
The next step is to analyze your data and transform it into more readable forms such as graphs, scorecards, and tables. When designing these displays, you will want to keep your underlying objective in mind. While data display programs, like Google Data Studio, have seemingly unlimited amounts of power, overwhelming your audience with information can be counterproductive.
Step 6: Take Action and Analyze the Action's Effects.
The final step is to take action that helps accomplish your objectives. If your data indicated that attorneys were spending excessive time interviewing and intaking potential clients, you might want to automate your intake process. After taking that action step, you would want to see whether the work leftover after each week had decreased from the original control group.
If your objective was to increase the completion rate of intake forms, you might have included more information on a portion of the application where users frequently dropped off. To evaluate the effectiveness of the new information, comparing the drop rate from the control group and the latest period may indicate whether the additional information was helpful.
Understanding how to use KPIs is an essential step in improving the production of your legal aid organization. KPIs are highly customizable and can be helpful in almost any area of operation. If you have questions about KPIs or want to discuss how KPIs can help improve your legal aid organization, contact us.