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How to Set Your Quality KPIs


As forward-thinker management guru, Peter Drucker, once famously stated, “If you don’t measure it, then you can’t improve it.” After all, how will you know if something is better without comparison? Therefore, if you want to track your company’s strategic progress on pre-defined quality assurance goals and objectives, then you must measure the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for quality.

Quality-related KPIs or quality KPIs define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound metrics to track the company’s progress on strategic quality assurance goals. Quality KPIs are different from product quality attributes that are used to approve or reject products for commercialization. Instead, quality KPIs are used for high-level discussion with top management for strategic business decisions.

Quote from Peter Drucker about measurement | Scilife


What are the most important quality KPIs and why?

Thankfully there is no fixed list of quality KPIs that you should track, as the KPIs you choose depend on your organization’s quality-specific goals. However, you can consider the following KPIs to create your trackers:

  • Training overdue per month: This is the number of employees who failed to follow their training completion schedule per month. You would like this KPI to remain as low as possible. It ensures that employees are trained on their deliverables promptly which is also helpful to avoid training or competence compliance issues.
  • The number of internal audit findings per quarter: You would like the number of non-conformances spotted in the internal audit as high as possible, and you can revisit this KPI every quarter to track progress in each quarter. The number indicates your willingness to work on quality assurance gaps in your organization.
  • The number of external audit findings per year: You would like the number of non-conformances spotted in the external audits as low as possible, and you can revisit this KPI every year to track the strength of quality management practices.
  • The number of external audit findings that remained undiscovered in the internal audit per year: If you faced external audit findings that were undiscovered in your internal audits, then it must be an eye-opener for you. If this number is greater than zero then it means your organization needs to work on improving quality culture and build mechanisms to discover hidden factories in your organization.
  • The number of overdue CAPAs per month: It indicates the number of CAPAs that were not closed on time per month. It is an indirect indicator of your organization’s ability to handle issues promptly.
  • The number of ineffective CAPAs every quarter: Have you been in a situation where you had to revisit the old CAPAs because the issue (non-conformance) remained unresolved even after the old CAPAs were closed? Then you might know the importance of the effectiveness of CAPAs. The effectiveness of CAPAs is as important as closing the CAPAs in time to ensure that you solve the real problem and not just another compliance task that you have to do. It is an indirect measure of your risk management efficiency and commitment towards quality culture.
  • The number of customer complaints per month: Your customers are the true evaluators of your quality. Therefore, the number of customer complaints per month can be a valuable KPI to keep a check on customer satisfaction. The lower the number of customer complaints per month, the higher the customer satisfaction.
  • The number of non-conformances reported internally per month: Encouraging employees to report non-conformances internally can help you cut down on the cost of poor quality by discovering hidden factories and preventing damage before it occurs. Therefore, the higher the number of non-conformances reported internally each month, the higher the openness to accept responsibility for improvement.

These are only some examples of KPIs you can choose from. The actual KPIs you decide to use for tracking the progress of your quality management practices may vary depending on your organizational strategy.

Infographic that shows the main characteristics of Quality KPIs | Scilife


Before you decide which quality KPIs to measure

Contrary to what meticulous managers might think, not everything should be measured! Choosing which quality KPIs you’ll monitor is not a decision to be taken lightly. KPIs, once in place, should be tracked diligently - and that can be time and resource-intensive. By tracking too many quality KPIs simultaneously, the people responsible for keeping on top of them might end up being spread too thin and will not be able to allocate sufficient attention to each one. That ends up in gaps, mistakes, or insufficient data in the metrics.

What’s arguably even worse is that tracking too many or the wrong quality KPIs not only stresses out your whole team (including management!) but can lead to false performance conclusions. Keep circling back to the point behind it all, KPIs are a way to measure progress so that things can be improved. They’re meant to stimulate your team so they’re able to perform at their very best, not discourage them.

Infographic that explains the importance of measurement and data interpretation | Scilife



Choose and Centralize KPIs using an e-QMS

If you need help identifying and tracking useful KPIs, look no further than Scilife’s KPI module! This handy module lets you visualize all sorts of real-time and historic performance and quality metrics at a glance. You can drill down to see data on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. What’s more, every graph is clickable, so you can analyze every detail to your heart’s content. Discover areas for immediate improvement with out-of-the-box KPIs specific to life sciences companies, export and download reports, and even integrate with your business intelligence tools.


KPIs as catalysts, not obstacles

KPIs are a quantifiable way to see where improvements can be made, which should inspire everyone in a company. Unfortunately, too often, KPIs are seen by employees as a hindrance. KPIs may even spark fear in employees of ‘not being good enough’ or messing up. That’s because many employees confuse them as a tool for pure employee evaluation, rather than a tool to spot potential for positive change. The best way to overcome this in your team? Don’t make the same mistake!

Infographic that explains how KPIs can help the business | Scilife

As well as defining the goal of KPIs clearly for yourself, it’s just as important to communicate their purpose to your team.


Explain the why, what, and how

Before you think about KPIs at all, ensure that every employee in your business is aware of how and why their work matters. This isn’t just HR’s job; it’s just as important for the CEO, as ‘captain of the ship’, to lay out his vision and how every human on board is contributing unique value. Don’t assume this is self-explanatory. Research from Gallup shows only 44% of employees strongly agree they know how their work connects with their organization’s goals. Shocking! When a feeling of connection is missing, so is engagement. So, whatever you do, don’t skip this step, and make sure everyone on your team knows their worth.

When you’re choosing your quality KPIs, do so with care. As mentioned earlier, don’t go crazy with the metrics and measure everything and anything. Good KPIs are both measurable and achievable and directly relate to specific areas of business performance.

Then, get your team together and explain what KPIs you’re measuring, how you’re measuring them, and most importantly, why you’re measuring them - make sure you bring across loud and clear that KPIs are not a way to babysit or micromanage individuals, but rather are a way to spot process improvements throughout the company. Make sure management and those in leadership positions are just as clear about the ultimate purpose of KPIs to avoid misunderstandings.

Involve your team

Even better, involve your team from the start! When you’re setting your quality KPIs, take time to talk to each team and individual if you can. Agreeing on KPIs with employees is proven to foster a collaborative, effective working environment. Moreover, use the knowledge of the collective! Each employee has a unique viewpoint that can help the whole organization set reasonable and strategic goals. After all, they will be the ones working towards those very goals - you need them to tell you how realistic they are, or risk unmet expectations and forecasts that can affect everything from funding to morale.

People before KPIs

In summary, your people should come before any numbers! When we pit humans against metrics they don’t have a say in, it results in disconnected and disengaged employees, and the whole organization will suffer.



Make sure you reach out, recognize, and appreciate your employees frequently, and use KPIs to help you discover which teams or individuals might need more support rather than more criticism. Involve them in setting quality KPIs from the start, and keep an open line of communication throughout. Choosing and monitoring the right KPIs, with the help of an intuitive KPI dashboard, will nurture a quality culture in your organization, drive your teams towards realistic business goals, and set your company up for continuous improvement.

Discover how Scilife latest Quality KPIs solution can help you keep track of your goals.