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Mastering KPIs and Feedback Loops: Unlocking Peak Performance with Data Visualization

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In the quest to operate at maximum efficiency, businesses are continuously optimizing their processes. This voyage of constant improvement is largely defined by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which hold the key to successful decision-making. KPIs offer a clear direction to businesses, providing valuable insights into performance, guiding goal-setting, and improving decision-making. A significant aspect of this data-driven optimization lies in the realm of 'visualization'. Let's delve deeper into this world of complex KPIs, feedback loops, and the underlying significance of visualization.

The Role of KPIs in a Data-Driven Environment

What truly separates a good plan from a great one? The answer lies in the effective utilization of KPIs. Although KPIs can often seem to conflict, their strategic use can help strike a balance. Take, for instance, minimizing changeover times in production. This could potentially increase inventory but running longer batches of the same product could also streamline the production process. Herein lies the art of planning, where the optimal balance is struck between potentially conflicting KPIs.

One of the most essential KPIs for a production company is the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). OEE measures the percentage of productive manufacturing time, but one must tread carefully when interpreting these statistics. For example, larger changeovers might be acceptable on a non-bottleneck machine where they are not expensive, while it would be crucial to avoid them on a bottleneck machine where changeovers are costly. This distinction highlights the importance of proper KPI definition.

The Feedback Loop: An Essential Component

No plan is foolproof, and deviations are bound to happen. Perhaps the material for a machine run gets damaged, or the tasks consistently take longer than anticipated. It is during these times that the feedback loop becomes essential. A regular check on task execution can help identify discrepancies in the master data or even reveal missing changeover rules.

Ideally, job start and end times should be fed back into the scheduling system, enabling the measurement of an adherence to plan KPI. If data is not readily available, frequent check-ins with the shop floor can provide valuable insights into the quality of your plan. 

Visualization: The Bridge Between KPIs and the Feedback Loop

In this whirlwind of data, numbers, and KPIs, visualization comes to the rescue. It presents a clear, easily comprehensible picture of actuals versus plans. Visualization cuts through the data clutter, providing insights that lead to better decision-making and improved planning.

In a realm dominated by data-driven optimization, visualization allows for a quick grasp of large amounts of data, comparison of KPIs, and identification of patterns or trends. It illuminates the path to the 'optimal balance', bridging the gap between KPIs and the feedback loop. Visualization also empowers the decision-maker to be flexible and responsive to shop floor feedback, thereby facilitating real-time adjustments and improvements.


In conclusion, the value of visualization in a data-driven environment is immense. By facilitating a better understanding of KPIs and acting as a critical component in feedback loops, visualization serves as a cornerstone of successful data-driven optimization. However, the effectiveness of visualization is only as good as the quality of your data. It's about more than just closing the feedback loop—it's about asking the right questions, creating accurate KPIs, and ensuring a comprehensive approach to visualization.

Remember, in the world of data-driven optimization, visualization isn't just a tool—it's a guiding light that leads to efficient and informed decision-making.

More Optimal

Published on July 18, 2023

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