Leading, Lagging

Do critical activities need to be measured twice?

Organizations will also consider the criticalness of an activity such as safety when deciding on the best type of indicator. If an organization does not have input indicators for safety, such as “percentage of employees trained” or “percentage of employees wearing proper clothing”, the output or outcome could be an increase in injuries or fatalities. Therefore, one indicator should be used before an activity occurs (cause) and another indicator should be used to measure the aftermath (effect) to determine if the upfront procedures are working properly.

Input measures are similar to leading indicators (e.g. preventive indicators or controls used before an activity occurs). Lagging indicators are similar to output or outcome measures (e.g. detective measures used after an activity happens)

Leading and lagging indicators are used to monitor cause and effect. Improvement in the leading indicator (compliance to safety standards or the cause) should result in the decrease in the associated lagging indicator (decreased number of accidents or the effect).