Goals and Objectives: KGI and KPI

Goals and Objectives

The terms “goal” and “objective” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some differences. A goal is a written statement of desired outcomes or future state; an objective is the result to be achieved. A goal is typically broken down into objectives.


Given a hierarchy of objectives, a goal is the upper-level objective (parent) relative to the lower-level ones (children) broken down from it. A goal is measured by Key Goal Indicators (KGIs), while its subsidiary objectives are measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KGI is a measure for the outcome; while KPI is a measure for performance. A KGI at the lower level serves as a KPI to the parent KGI. The term KGI comes from COBIT, which distinguishes KGI as a lagging indicator from KPI as a leading indicator. However, it’s not uncommon to call a KGI (the effect) just KPI (the cause).

Performance Measurement

Success is the result of achieving a goal. Performance is a measurable result used to measure the progress to the objective or goal.


A measure is a variable with “a standard unit used to express the size, amount, or degree of something” (Google Dictionary).  In other words, a measure collects facts, but it isn’t associated with an objective or goal, while a metric does.

Measurement is a process to determine a value; it also refers to the result of a measurement. Measurements are values of a variable, or instances of a measure.

Metric and Indicator

A metric is a quantitative measure that is associated with an objective or goal so that the performance can be measured. An indicator is also a measure, but it can be either quantitative or qualitative.

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