Metrics vs measurement: definitions, differences and uses

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 September 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Metrics and measurements are useful tools for gathering and better understanding business data. You can implement them in the workplace to monitor progress and assess how changes affect success. If you're interested in using metrics or measurement, learning more about what they are and how they function in business can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what metrics and measurements are and detail how to use performance metrics.

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Metrics vs measurement

Learning more about the differences between metrics vs measurements can help you determine which to implement in your workplace. While measurements refer to single points of data, metrics offer context for that data. This means that many professionals choose to use metrics to assess performance in the workplace, as it provides more context about improvement or regression. Here are some differences between metrics and measurement:

Definitions

A measurement is a point of data that refers to a single measurement without a broader context. This usually means the measurement doesn't provide as much information as other progression tracking methods. For example, when using measurement to better understand the amount of traffic a website gets, the marketing team may not have other information to compare it to. This means they don't know if the amount of website traffic is good because they're unsure if it changed from the previous quarter. These are some examples of measurements:

  • The number of clicks on a single sales link.

  • How many people walked through the door of a store.

  • Website traffic measurements show how many people visit the webpage.

  • Revenue for the company for a single month.

Metrics are like measurements, but they offer information with the context of other data to compare it to. By including metrics in your business data analysis, you can compare the information you're reviewing to other information from previous measurements. This may include assessing a team member's performance in the current year compared to the previous one or determining if the profits have increased or decreased over the past three months. Metrics are useful for monthly or quarterly reports, as they allow a company to reflect on its successes and areas in need of improvement. These are some potential metrics:

  • The increase or decrease in clicks on a single shopping link.

  • How many people walked through the door of a store compared to the previous weekend.

  • Website traffic measurements show how many people have visited a webpage over the course of a year.

  • Revenue for the company over a whole year, showing the amount of revenue earned in each month.

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Uses

Measurements are most useful for determining the state of something quickly. A measurement can provide information in a single data set, which can often help you to answer yes-or-no questions. For example, if you're the website manager for a company and you're unsure if the website is currently online, you can take a measurement to determine if it's true. If you know the website has, on average, about 100 visitors each second, you can measure the current visitors to better understand the state of the website. If there are currently no visitors, the website is likely to be offline.

Metrics provide information about the change of a data point over time. When using metrics, you can determine if your sales increased or decreased from the previous month by comparing the sales numbers. In business, you can use metrics to determine if a new system works properly. For example, if you begin a new social media campaign, you measure followers for the brand to evaluate success. If at the beginning of the campaign, you have 10,000 followers, and after the first month you have 9,000, you learn that the campaign isn't successful and it may help to change your strategy.

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Types of measurement and metrics

Learning more about the different types of both measurements and metrics can help you to better understand how they're useful. These are the specific types of each:

Measurement

Depending on your needs, you can use different methods of measurement to gather information. Some methods of measurement don't work well with some forms of data, so it's important to understand the different approaches so you can choose the most appropriate one. These are some different methods of measurement:

Interval

When using the interval method of measurement, you use a number scale that orders the values for your measurement. This approach to measurement is useful for measurements of time. The interval method of measurement may not be appropriate for measurements of weight, temperature and money.

Nominal

Nominal measurements use numbers, words and letters to describe the variables of measurement. The values in this measurement aren't usually in order and instead rely on descriptions or labels. For example, when measuring nominally, you may divide a group of students into those studying English or maths.

Ordinal

This method of measurement uses an ordered value system that you can use to rank the quality or value of something. For example, a rating system that ranges from unsatisfied to very satisfied can be useful for allowing customers to rate their experiences. Ordinal measurements also appear in contests when winners receive first, second or third place. Although there is no exact measurement of the difference between these rankings, they can communicate an amount of value.

Metrics

Metrics are useful for measuring progress and understanding growth and improvement, but some metrics can be more useful than others. These are some different classifications of metrics:

Outcome metric

An outcome metric focuses on events that have already occurred. An outcome metric can provide the insight you may use for your next attempt, but it isn't effective in altering results. Outcome metrics include metrics like revenue from month to month or website traffic each day.

Performance metric

Performance metrics focus on the actions you take that can produce successful results. Outcome metrics rely on performance metrics, so by closely tracking and improving performance metrics, you can affect outcomes. For example, when tracking website traffic as an outcome metric, you may track website speed and search engine optimisation (SEO) as performance metrics that encourage viewers to visit the website.

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How to use performance metrics

These are some steps you can follow to use performance metrics:

1. Determine what information to track

The first step to implementing performance metrics is determining which information is best to track. Because performance metrics focus on the actions you do to produce outcomes, it's best to determine which outcome you want, and then develop performance metrics based on that. For example, if you want the outcome metric of a higher team member retention rate, you may include performance metrics of engagement, satisfaction and staff performance.

2. Establish goals for the project or task

To establish goals for the metric, gather information about where you're starting. You can use baseline measurements to determine what your goals for the metric might be. For example, with a team member retention rate metric, you may want to reduce turnover to less than 10% a year.

3. Monitor and track your metrics

There are many systems and methods for gathering information for metrics and tracking them over time. If you want to track team member satisfaction and engagement, you may send out weekly surveys to ask staff questions about their experiences at work. You can review the information to learn more about the workplace atmosphere and how it affects team member retention.

4. Adjust goals and measurements

As you gather information and learn more about how your metrics change, you can use that information to adjust your approach and strategy. For example, if you notice team member engagement is your lowest metric for staff retention, you may implement solutions to that problem. This can include introducing team exercises or offering more feedback in the workplace.

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5. Set new goals based on performance metrics

Metrics are helpful because they allow you to strive for continuous improvement. After meeting the previous goal of reducing turnover to 10%, you may choose to review your metrics and introduce a new goal of a turnover rate of less than 8%. By setting new goals based on your performance metrics, you can continue to improve operations and practices within your company.

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