Key figures condense facts or causal relationships with the help of absolute numbers , equations , formulas or index values . The viewer (the public , media , analysts ) should be able to form opinions , make assessments , establish rankings or make decisions based on key figures .
Strictly speaking, a key figure in itself is not meaningful; What is meant is always a parameter, i.e. the product of characters (e.g. letters , also in combination with mathematical characters or special characters for ratings [e.g. AA +], or number for numerical information) and a unit of measurement (e.g. . ° C , € , meter ).
Key figures can be roughly divided into
- absolute key figures : e.g. B. Travel time , total costs , company size , capacity , staff capacity ;
- relative indicators ( ratio indicators ): dimensions : e.g. B. Unit costs , expenses per day, sales per customer,
- dimensionless relative key figures : e.g. As a percentage, price index , stock index , activity level , ROS ,
A key figure value is the value of the key figure at a certain point in time (e.g. number of employees on December 31, 2007) or over a specified period (e.g. profit in a fiscal year).
For many key figures there are typically suffixes such as - proportion , - coefficient , - factor , degree, index, - coefficient , - quota , - ratio , number , rate and the like, some of which are special types of key figures according to the metrological standards are reserved.
In measurement theory, a key figure is quantitative, essential information. By selection and grouping, data becomes information , with key figures determining the essential facts. They are used for analysis and control. For example, performance indicators classify the performance of machines or athletes.
Various key figures exist in mathematical statistics . With these key figures it is possible, for example in descriptive statistics , to get a good overview of distributions , mean values, etc. with just a few quantitative data . Examples of statistical key figures are:
- In economics , economic indicators are used to illustrate macroeconomic developments, for example within national accounts ; these are also called economic indicators . Important economic indicators are the gross domestic product , the unemployment rate and the national debt ratio .
- In business administration , business indicators are used to assess companies and to set company goals and measure their achievement. Key figures are used, among other things, to make business processes measurable (and thus controllable). In this function, they are also explicitly required and prescribed by standards (e.g. ISO / TS 16949 ). Examples are business volume , equity ratio or investment intensity .
- When valuing securities , key figures such as dividend yield , price / earnings ratio (for stocks ) or issue and current yields ( bonds ) are used.
- In the process management of data centers and in the IT infrastructure of companies by ITIL , the quality of processes is recorded and evaluated in key performance indicators (i.e. key performance indicators ). In contrast, there is another category - the analysis key figures, which are mainly used for detailed analysis in the event of deviations.
- There is a system of indicators in business administration .
In quality management, one strives for improvements in processes and results. To do this, you set goals and measure the degree of goal achievement with key figures. Depending on the goal, key figures can be, for example, the number of articles in Wikipedia or, better still, the increase in the number of articles or, even better, the increase in the number of articles worth reading. In management, for example, employee satisfaction or the number of successfully implemented suggestions for improvement can be a key figure.
Criticism, possible errors and risks
The focus on one key figure - instead of a holistic key figure system - harbors the risk of incorrect interpretation and even wrongdoing; A typical example of this is the body count , which was used, for example, in the Vietnam War. Linking the number of enemy soldiers killed with the target achievement system of the military superiors led to misinterpretations such as the inclusion of civilian victims up to violations of martial law.
Ultimately, a key figure is always only a quantitative indicator that requires a qualitative review and interpretation with regard to the achievement of the intended goal.
- Vietnam - War without Fronts, The Story of an Apocalypse ( Memento of the original from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , ZDF 2010