Key KPIs All Finance Teams Should be Tracking

Is your finance team tracking the right KPIs to support growth? This guide walks through some of the most important metrics that all finance teams should be watching in order to keep a business on track.

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Part of crafting the perfect business strategy for your company is knowing which metrics to track. When it comes to monitoring performance, companies must use KPIs, or key performance indicators, to gain greater visibility of their company’s progress. 

 Our experts at Abacum have put together the list below, gathering all the KPIs your finance team needs to track in order to  create its own roadmap for success.

What Are KPIs?

A KPI, or key performance indicator, is a quantifiable measure that helps companies assess how well they achieve their growth objectives and goals. KPI reporting can help a business set benchmarks, evaluate performance, identify organizational strengths, and ultimately assess the organization’s overall success. 

Generally speaking, there are five different KPI categories: profitability, leverage, valuation, liquidity and efficiency. These groups can be broken down into a variety of key performance indicators that are used depending on what the organization, team, or individual is trying to achieve. Whether you are analyzing SaaS KPIs, operational KPIs, or even marketing KPIs, all functions within an organization should have their own set of metrics to prioritize. 

What Are the Most Important KPIs for Finance Teams?

In this section, we are going to be breaking down the different metrics by KPI category:

Profitability

Operating Expense 

Also known as OPEX, it measures how much it costs a business to cover its day-to-day operations. Expenses that are often considered may include inventory costs, payroll, rent, and more. 

Sales Growth Rate 

The sales growth rate is a critical metric that all organizations need to calculate. This KPI allows teams to see the organization’s sales growth over time. It is usually owned by the Chief Revenue Officer or Sales leader, and monitored closely by the CFO.

Sales Growth Rate = (Current Net Sales – Previous Net Sales / Previous Net Sales) x 100

Gross Profit Margin

The gross profit margin calculates how much money is left over from revenue after subtracting the cost of goods sold. This metric is often used to see whether or not a company is able to pay its operating expenses while having funds left over.

Gross Profit Margin = (Net Sales – Cost of Goods Sold) / Net Sales

Net Profit Margin 

The net profit margin, also referred to an organization's bottom line, is the specific KPI that measures a company’s efficiency at generating profit rather than revenue. The net profit margin is a percentage that shows how much of each dollar earned translates into actual profits.

Net margin = net profit / revenue

Payback Period 

This key important metric is used to determine the length of time an investment takes to be able to pay for itself. You can also think of the payback period as the breakeven point. 

Payback Period = Initial Capital Cost for Project / Annual Savings or Earnings from Project

Interest Coverage Ratio 

Anytime a company borrows money, it will have to pay interest. The Interest Coverage Ratio is calculated to ensure a company is able to pay back the interest rate with its earnings before interest and taxes. 

Interest Coverage = EBIT / Interest Expense

Leverage

Total Debt-to-Equity Ratio 

The total debt-to-equity ratio is an important metric used to calculate how much debt a company uses to finance its assets against its shareholder’s equity. A high ratio can indicate that a company is using too much investment instead of generating its own income.

Total-Debt-to-Equity = (Short-Term Debt + Long-Term Debt) / Shareholder’s Equity

Total Debt-to-Asset Ratio 

The debt-to-asset ratio is a financial KPI used to evaluate the total amount of debt a company has compared to its assets. While a small amount of debt helps an organization with expansion, too much debt can take a start-up down. 

Total-Debt-to-Asset = (Short-Term Debt + Long-Term Debt) / Total Assets

Valuation

Burn Rate 

The burn rate is an important metric that showcases the rate at which a company uses up its cash reserves in a loss-generating scenario. This popular metric is used when measuring the performance and assessing the valuation of a company. Since a start-up traditionally has a net income until it can get off the ground, investors will provide funding based on an organization’s burn rate. 

Burn Rate = (Starting Balance – Ending Balance) / # Months

Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) is one of the most important KPIs for investors and shareholders.  It showcases how well the company is utilizing shareholder equity, allowing investors to gain greater insights into an organization’s potential profitability. 

Return on Equity = Net Income / Average Shareholders’ Equity

Compound Average Growth Rate 

The CAGR is a performance metric that calculates the rate of return that would be necessary for an investment to grow from its initial balance to its ending one. This is a metric that CFOs often report to other shareholders. 

Earnings Per Share 

Earnings per share (EPS) is one of the leading KPIs for financial reporting. This key metric illustrates a company’s profit per outstanding share of stock. Often, EPS is either calculated on a quarterly or annual basis. 

EPS = (Net Income – Preferred Dividends) / (End-of-Period Common Shares Outstanding)

Net Present Value 

The NPV is often used on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not a project will be profitable or not. If the NPV is positive, it means that the project or investment is an attractive endeavor to pursue. 

Net Present Value = Today’s Value of Expected Cash Flows – Today’s Value of Invested Cash

Future Value 

The future value helps evaluate whether or not a project or investment will be profitable. This calculation uses an assumed rate of return to estimate the future value. 

Future Value = Present Value * (1 + Interest Rate)Time

Internal Rate of Return

This financial KPI is used to estimate the profitability of potential investments. The IRR is calculated by taking the difference between the current and expected value and the original beginning value, divided by the original value, and then multiplied by 100. 

Internal Rate of Return = (future value / present value) 1 / # of period - 1

Return on Investment 

ROI is one of the most important metrics chief financial officers track. Return on investment is a popular metric often used by CFOs and financial managers to evaluate the profitability of how well an investment performed. 

Return on Investment = (Current Value of Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

Liquidy

Operating Cash Flow

OCF is one of the most fundamental metrics used by CFOs today. This KPI metric measures the total income generated by regular business operations. In a healthy organization, the OCF will be represented as a positive number and used to decide how much capital expenditure a company can afford. 

Operating Cash Flow = EBIT + Depreciation – Taxes – Change in Working Capital

Quick Ratio/Acid Test

As a chief financial officer, if you are looking to quickly evaluate the health of your organization, you will want to calculate your quick ratio business metric. This specific KPI shows whether a company has sufficient funds to cover short-term financial obligations immediately.

Quick ratio = (Cash + Marketable Securities + Accounts Receivable) / Current Liabilities

Current Ratio 

While the quick ratio and current ratio are quite similar, the current ratio is a performance metric that demonstrates a company’s ability to pay off all its financial obligations within a full year.

Current Ratio = Current Assets / Current Liabilities

Working Capital

Working capital is a key performance indicator that is used to highlight a company’s available assets to meet short-term financial obligations. Assets that contribute to working capital include cash, accounts receivable, short-term investments, etc. 

​​Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

Cash Conversion Cycle 

The cash conversion cycle (CCC) is a business metric that indicates how many days it would take for an organization to convert its goods to cash.

CCC = Days of Inventory Outstanding + Days Sales Outstanding – Days Payables Outstanding

Efficiency

Accounts Payable Turnover 

This specific metric measures how quickly a company is able to make payments to its suppliers. If this number begins to decrease over time, it may be an indication of internal cash flow issues. 

Accounts Payable (AP) Turnover = Total Supply Purchases / ((Beginning AP – Ending AP) / 2)

Tracking your KPIs: a Few Tips to Stay Zen

Are you slightly overwhelmed by all those financial KPIs? Don’t you worry. Some of them are more important than others, and with a little bit of structure, you will be able to stay on top of your company’s performance and keep your sanity. Here are some tips to get started: 

  • Align your KPIs with your broader company objectives or OKRs. KPIs act as a compass to measure whether you are on the right track to achieve your company goals. 
  • Shortlist the KPIs that will give you the insight you need depending on your priorities: an early-stage startup will focus on tracking growth while a more established organization may focus more on profitability metrics. Choose the KPIs that will help you navigate your current development phase.
  • Bring your leadership team together around your financial KPIs: ultimately, all functions are working together towards the same company goal, therefore make sure you bring your Sales and Marketing leaders on board for instance, as their own KPIs will directly affect yours, and vice-versa. 
  • Empowerment and accountability are essential. Make sure you periodically review results against KPIs, and take action if you are going off-track.
  • Adopt the right technology to boost efficiency and ensure data accuracy.
    Modern finance teams today are shifting from excel spreadsheets and swapping them for excel alternatives such as FP&A software to help consolidate data, create KPI reports, and drive valuable insights for the rest of the team.

If you are looking for a solution to help streamline your data into a centralized platform, Abacum is the perfect option. To see how the Abacum platform can help keep track of your critical KPIs and metrics, request a demo today.