KPIs for Measuring Compliance Effectiveness

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Key performance indicators (KPIs) were easier to measure in 1996 than they are today. All you needed is someone to review documents and award a score in a very short time. It was similar to telling the performance of a student just by looking at his grades.

Today, the process has evolved with sophistication of information and costs of security compliance. Measuring the effectiveness of compliance today involves continuous insights to understand how well the data environment is protected.

Introduction to KPIs

Senior management can make accurate decisions based on KPIs. In most cases, indicators are qualitative, while in others they are quantitative. The combination of observations and metrics give managers objective and valuable data for their companies.

If the speed limit in your town is measured in miles per hour, while your car’s speedometer reads “kilometers per hour”, it is highly likely that you will breach the limits. KPIs employ the same thinking. You need to measure performance with the right tools relevant to your business.

Importance of KPIs for Compliance

Questionnaires and audits provide insights in a single moment. This is not enough assurance of data protection. Malicious hackers are continually in the hunt for access to your data. In any case, vendor questionnaires can only be foolproof if you to trust your partners in business. Unfortunately, business trust and friendship also require you to verify third-party controls.

Risk Management and KPIs

The KPIs of your data security cannot stand alone. They need to be backed up by risk management procedures, which start from setting clear business objectives. Baseline goals enable you to measure effectiveness. You have to ask the hard questions.

Establishing Organizational Objectives

Review your current data protection credentials and determine what you want to do next. As you think about the present while considering the future, you will set accurate KPIs for compliance.

While a software-as-a-service provider thinks about different markets, a financial institution considers how its customers access money. You need to ask the following questions and provide accurate answers:

  • What objectives do you have for different departments?
  • What risk management procedures enhance business performance?
  • How do unforeseen events reduce the efficiency of operations?
  • What prospective streams of revenue can you tap into?
  • What risks do the above revenues face?
  • What new risks do you foresee in the future?

Assessing the Risks

Whatever you measure has to have a baseline. In measuring the number of kilometers that you have driven, you need to record your car’s mileage at the beginning of the journey. Answering the following questions helps you establish a baseline:

  • What are your information assets?
  • Where are your assets kept?
  • Who has access to data assets?
  • How are you protecting information assets?
  • What is the failure likelihood of these protections?
  • What assets are most critical to your business objectives?
  • What assets are most important to hackers?
  • What types of risk does the data pose?

Important KPIs for Compliance Officers

The performance of cybersecurity looks intangible outside the arena of information security. Technical jargon causes a confusion of the otherwise simple idea that information security KPIs are similar to other types of metrics. They focus on value, time, and money.

Explaining KPIs from technical to business language equip better compliance decisions. Finding the accurate metrics to establish compliance issues usually involves the following:

  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): This is a measurement of the number of days since you had a system failure. If the figure is high, you are keeping healthy protection.
  • Percent Difference in MBTF: Are you experiencing more failures with some data protection systems than with other systems on a month-to-month basis? If the answer is yes, you definitely need remediation.
  • Mean Time to Repair (MTTR): This is a measurement of the average number of hours that it takes to fix a problem and get you back to normalcy. If the time is too long, rethink resources and/or staffing.
  • System Availability: Divide the number of minutes that all your systems wereactually available to all the staff by the number of minutes they should have been available. Consider remediating your data accessibility.
  • Percentage of Downtime Due to Scheduled Activities: Divide the number of minutes your IT function spent on scheduled maintenance by the total number of minutes in the particular time frame.
  • Percentage of Scheduled Maintenance Activities Miss: You should divide the number of computers and servers that were not serviced in a given period by the total number of scheduled services. Train your employees more on compliance or hire more IT staff.
  • Percentage of Critical Systems without Up-to-Date Patches: Divide the number of critical systems without recent updates to the total number of critical system devices and systems. If the percentage of critical systems with missing patches, you risk getting a CVE attack.

Invest in the right SaaS tools to increase the pace of aggregating information. These tools enable IT teams and management to exchange insights faster. Start with risk assessment modules and then graduate to responsibility graphics for less time-consuming processes.

Author Bio

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. For more information, visit

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