What’s the Difference between Reports and Key Performance Indicators?

A man typing at a computer with a KPI Dashboard. Text Overlay reads: What's the Difference between Reports and Key Performance Indicators.

When it comes to asset management, data is king. Asset data can help with everything from finding inefficiencies, maintaining compliance with federal regulations, or providing statistics to present to executives.

Asset management software often has a variety of tools to help users better understand their asset data. Reports and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are 2 crucial features that can help users display data and information about their data in a way that is easy to understand.

However, I’ve found there can be confusion when it comes to using this terminology. I’d like to clarify:

  • The difference between reports and KPIs
  • How each works
  • Why use them

The difference between reports and KPIs in asset management software

To put it simply, reports give a specific view of asset data, while KPIs give a more general view. In other words, the reports show the actual asset records along with details, while KPIs show the total number of assets that meet the specified criterion in the KPI definitions.

This means that while they may seem similar at first glance, they work differently and are used to achieve different goals.

Let’s explore how reports work, taking eQuip! software as an example.

Reports in asset management software

Reports can be used to find specific assets as well as details about a group of assets.

Reports in eQuip! consist of Ad Hoc reports and Customized reports. Ad Hoc reports allow users to quickly generate a simple report through the asset search feature.

While these reports do not involve any customization and are limited, they allow users to quickly configure a search to display specific assets and their specified attributes. Users do not need coding knowledge to configure these Ad Hoc reports.  

Below is an example of a search that can be used to generate Ad Hoc reports. The search function has several specific criteria you can search for, however, you are limited to these criteria in Ad Hoc reports.

The eQuip! search for assets screen.

On the other hand, because Customized reports are designed in the code of the eQuip! system, you are not as limited as when using Ad Hoc reports.

eQuip! users create Customized reports when they need more details in a report. The image below shows an example of a customized report called Deleted Assets Report.

A screenshot of a report in eQuip titled Deleted Assets Report. It has 4 columns labeled asset name, barcode, date deleted, and deleted by.

Details such as the date an asset was deleted and who it was deleted by is not normally available in Ad Hoc reporting, but can be vital for reports like this. With Customized reporting, users get the exact data they need.

Knowing this, we can see that reports can be incredibly detailed if the user desires. This is a contrast to Key Performance Indicators, which provide an overview of asset data.

KPIs in asset management software

Key performance indicators allow you to see a snapshot of how your organization is achieving business goals.

Unlike reports, which show users a list of assets that meet the specific criteria, KPIs show a total count of assets that meet the specific criteria.

For example, when users log into eQuip, they can see the KPIs set up by the Admin user displayed on the dashboard.

In the image below, we see an Admin user has set up a KPI for New Assets Entered in the Past 30 Days. The KPI Dashboard does not list every asset that has been added in the past 30 days but states the number of assets that have been added, as well as the pre-determined goal for this value.

The eQuip Key Performance Indicator dashboard.

Any Admin user can modify an existing KPI or add a new KPI based on the needs of the organization.

In addition, each KPI can be set up to allow only a specific group of users to see it in the dashboard. This allows companies to control what information can be seen by users based on their roles.

Below is an example of permissions being added for a KPI. As shown in the KPI Definition example, the Admin can allow one or more user roles to see the KPI display on the home page.

An Admin user editing role permissions for a KPI in eQuip. There is a drop-down menu listing roles such as Administrator and Property Custodian.

KPIs are a great, quick way to understand asset data at a glance. KPI dashboard permissions ensure that the KPIs on a user’s dashboard is relevant to what they need to know.

Bringing it all together

Now we know what reports and KPIs are in asset management software, and how they work. We’ve also seen examples of both reporting and KPIs in eQuip! To finish up, I’d like to summarize the typical purpose of each function.

Use reporting when:

  • You need detailed asset information, for example, to edit assets
  • You want to understand the trends and patterns behind a KPI

Use KPIs when:

  • You need a general snapshot of performance, for example, to show to management
  • You want an overview of current operations to determine your current focus

It’s important to understand the difference between KPIs and reporting so that you can use both to full advantage. KPIs and reporting are integral parts of an asset management software, and knowing how they work in your solution will allow you to become an adept user.

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