Warehouse KPIs and Balanced Scorecard

Learn how to track the warehousing process from receiving to shipping. Find a template of a strategy map with trending improvement initiatives and performance metrics.

Warehouse Process

In this article, we analyze warehouse effectiveness challenge on two levels:

  • Process level with the focus on efficiency and effectiveness metrics
  • Strategy level that helps to align warehouse activities with the company’s overall goals

Warehouse Process KPIs

Warehouse activity is associated with certain established process steps 1. These steps are an excellent base for the process-oriented performance metrics.

Possible measurement points in this case are:

  • Financial metrics
  • Effectiveness (productivity) metrics
  • Utilization metrics for equipment and storage
  • Quality metrics
  • Cycle time metrics

Respectively on each step, these evaluation parameters are adjusted to the process step.

Warehouse Receiving


  • Financial metric: Cost of Receiving (Total Cost of Receiving / Total Line Items).
  • Effectiveness metric: Receiving Labor Productivity (Volume of goods received per warehouse employee per hour).
  • Effectiveness metric: Receiving Efficiency (Inventory received per hour).
  • Utilization metric: Dock Utilization.
  • Quality metric: Receiving Accuracy.
  • Cycle time metric: Receiving Cycle Time (Time for Delivery / Total Number of Deliveries).

Warehouse Put-away


  • Financial: Putaway Cost Per Line (Total Cost of Put Away / Total Line Items).
  • Effectiveness: Putaway Productivity (Stock per warehouse employee per hour).
  • Utilization: Putaway Space Utilization (Equipment and space utilization).
  • Quality: Putaway Accuracy (Inventory Put Away Correctly / Total Put Away).
  • Cycle time: Putaway Cycle Time.

Warehouse Storage


  • Financial: Storage Costs (as index of Service costs, Damage costs, Obsolescence Costs).
  • Financial: Cost of Inventory
  • Financial: Cost of Carrying (Cents per dollar spent on inventory overhead).
  • Effectiveness: Storage Productivity. Volume of inventory per m2
  • Utilization: Space Utilization (Space occupied / total space available).
  • Quality: Inventory Shrinkage ( (Recorded Inventory Cost – Physical Inventory Cost) / Recorded Inventory Cost).
  • Quality: Inventory Accuracy ((Inventory According to Records / Physical Inventory) * 100).
  • Cycle time: Inventory Turnover.

Warehouse Pick and Pack

Preparation (Pick & Pack)

  • Financial: Pick and Pack Cost.
  • Financial: Cost of returns.
  • Effectiveness: Picking Productivity (Order lines per hour).
  • Utilization: Use of Packaging Materials.
  • Utilization: Equipment Dock Utilization.
  • Quality: Picking Accuracy (Total orders – Returns due Wrong Item) / (Total orders).
  • Quality. Returns rate (Units returned / Units sold)
  • Cycle time: Pick and Pack Cycle Time (Travel time for pickers).

Warehouse Shipping


  • Financial: Shipping Cost Per Line
  • Effectiveness: Back Order Rate (Orders unfulfilled immediately / Total orders).
  • Utilization: Dock Utilization
  • Quality: Shipping Accuracy (% of orders delivered without errors).
  • Cycle time: Average Time to Customer (Lead Time, Average time to deliver once the order was placed).

Warehouse process on strategy map tab

The visual representation of the warehouse process and its key performance indicators. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

Benchmark Data

The scorecard template includes some benchmarking data obtained from:

Use this data as a starting point for your research. The final numbers depend a lot on your market conditions.

When finding benchmarks for your indicators, make sure that you follow the same approach to measurement and the compared organization.

A starting point for any benchmark is your own historical data.

Quality Metrics

Quality metrics are implemented on each step of the warehousing process. A general formula is focused on finding the number of correctly served items compared to the total number of items.

An interesting question is how the warehouse manager could estimate the number of correctly served items. The two possible control points are:

  • Customer complaints (for example, as measured by returns)
  • Random checks of the items

In the Quality KPIs article, we have discussed various approaches that organizations can use to measure and improve quality.

Warehouse safety KPIs

Warehouse safety KPIs Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

Safety Metrics

The classical process-oriented approach doesn´t include safety metrics explicitly, but it is obvious that safety should be a main priority of warehouse managers.

For this reason, on the strategy map below, we have a separate “Safety” theme.

We can track safety efforts with these leading metrics:

  • Safety standards awareness
  • Near-miss reporting awareness
  • Safety equipment used

The results can be validated in this way:

  • Time lost due to injury
  • Accidents per year
  • Near-miss issues reported

In the strategy map section below, we will discuss some ideas for safety initiatives. For now, I´d like to pay attention to the specific setup of safety metrics.
Binary optimization for safety equipment used KPI

The vague idea of 'safety' is quantified by three specific performance indicators. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

The performance function for the “Safety equipment used” should be binary. This means that the metrics can be in the green zone (have 100% performance) only if 100% of the used equipment is adjusted to the current safety standards.

The Safety standards awareness metric should have a specific performance function as well. It allows a certain margin between 100% awareness due to the normal fluctuations in staff and standards change, but the scale should be much more aggressive compared to a standard line growth function.

The idea is to align safety initiatives with overall strategy of the organization. A Balanced Scorecard strategy map is an excellent business tool to do this. Check out an example of the Safety Strategy Map that we discussed before.

Strategy Scorecard

I see several reasons why the warehouse should have a properly designed strategy scorecard.

  1. It helps to describe a warehouse strategy, have a big picture view and know growth points.
  2. It allows to align supply chain strategy with overall company strategy.
  3. It focuses performance measurement efforts beyond simple process metrics.

Below, I’m following the logic of the Balanced Scorecard framework to create a strategy map template for the warehouse. If you want to learn more about the framework, I recommend this article to you. Additionally, consider connecting this warehouse strategy scorecard to a procurement scorecard, for example, by the “Inventory accuracy, %” indicator.

Warehouse Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map with KPIs and Initiatives

An example of strategy map for warehouse that formulates key business goals, their connections, performance indicators and strategic initiatives. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

Finance Perspective

The financial goals of the warehouse are related to optimizing running costs.

Business goal: Optimize Costs

Lagging metrics:

  • Shipping Cost Per Line
  • Errors cost per type of error

Customer Perspective

The stakeholders of the warehouse can include suppliers, clients, warehouse team, logistic personnel. Respectively, the goals of the customer perspective can be formulated around the needs of these stakeholders.

Warehouse scorecard - Customer Perspective

The expected results of successful execution of warehouse strategy as see by the end-users and internal users. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

There are two goals to map in the Customer perspective:

  • Improve Efficiency and Productivity
  • Improve Safety

Business goal: Improve Efficiency and Productivity


  • Receiving Efficiency
  • Inventory Turnover
  • Receiving Labor Productivity

Possible initiatives:

  • Omni-channel fulfillment centers

Business goal: Improve Safety


  • Time lost due to injury
  • Accidents per year
  • Near miss issues reported

Internal Perspective

The goals of the internal perspective are supposed to answer the question: “How are we going to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders?” The improvements might be focused on the goals discussed in this section.

Warehouse scorecard - Internal Perspective

The drivers of the strategy. The four goals with the lagging indicators, and strategic initiatives. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

Minimize Errors via Automatic Data Collection


  • Returns rate
  • Accuracy Index (as measured according to accuracy indexes on all steps of the warehousing process)

The weights of the indicators that form the accuracy index can be equal or can be adjusted to the current strategy, for example, by giving a Shipping Accuracy higher weight compared to other indicators.

Additional metrics should be introduced when specific initiatives are implemented.

Possible Initiatives:

  • Implement RF and RFID (radio-frequency identification)
  • Hands-free order selection
  • Operations according to the pace of customer demand
  • Real-time location systems (RTLS)
  • Real-time inventory control

The next business goal is:

Optimize warehouse processes

It can be validated by many effectiveness and utilization indicators.

A good measurement option is this general indicator:

  • Cost of Carrying. Cents per dollar spent on inventory overhead.

Improvement initiatives to consider:

  • Implement cross-docking
  • Efficient returns process
  • Sequential order picking process
  • Regular pick path review
  • Analyse material usage patterns
  • LED energy-efficient lighting

Among the stakeholders, we have suppliers/vendors.

A business goal related to these stakeholders can be formulated as:

Vendor Compliance Program

The metrics in this case might be:

  • Receiving Cycle Time. Time for Delivery / Total Number of Deliveries
  • Receiving Accuracy
  • Compliance Program Penetration Rate

The initiatives that can be implemented within a vendor compliance goal:

  • Product identification
  • Product tracking
  • Focus on standardization
  • Demand forecasting and planning

Finally, the “Safety” goal from the Customer perspective is supported by:

Effective and Safe Layout goal

The measurement part in this case can be formulated by two metrics:

  • Leading metric “Culture of safety” that quantifies the lagging performance of the respective goal from the “Learning perspective.”
  • Lagging metric “Layout Reevaluation” that should be aligned with a detailed plan to revise warehouse layout to optimize for effectiveness and safety.

Layout reevaluation KPI setting

Layout reevaluation KPI setting - the indicator is configured to be updated quarterly and use only specifically entered data. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

The Layout Reevaluation should be programmed to be updated with a certain period of time depending on the type of the products stored. In this example, it is updated Quarterly. Obviously, the value of this indicator cannot be inherited from the previous evaluations, and to reflect this, I’ve picked the “Entered values” option in BSC Designer software.

Effective and safe layout goal can be further supported with various improvement initiatives:

  • Maximize vertical space
  • Design ergonomic workspaces
  • Behavior-based safety program
  • Safe routes, traffic lanes, crash barriers
  • External warehouse layout
  • Evaluate storage equipment

Learning and Growth Perspective

In the learning perspective, we need to map goals that will help to focus learning efforts. What information about the stakeholders will help to make better decisions? What IT infrastructure will help to serve warehouse stakeholders better? What changes in management can lead to achieving internal goals?

Warehouse scorecard - Learning and growth perspective

The goals of the Learning perspective explain the skills and infrastructure needed to successfully execute strategy. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

The pillars of learning perspective are:

  • Hiring the right staff
  • Continuous learning
  • Culture
  • Technologies

Let’s review these goals one by one.

Implement Technologies goal

This goal helps to leverage warehouse growth and effectiveness by focusing on the emerging technologies. Here are possible initiatives to consider:

  • Implement Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN)
  • Implement WMS (Warehouse management system)
  • Use robotics
  • Incorporate bin locators
  • Automated pallet storage system
  • Adopt wearable technologies

A general IT scorecard will also be useful.

The next goal is:

Hire the right talent

Looking beyond obvious training challenges, two initiatives might add value to the warehouse effectiveness and safety:

  • Cross Train Staff For Different Tasks
  • On-demand staffing

Obviously, any talent-related goals should be supported by proper training.

On this warehouse strategy map the training goal is formulated as continuous learning.

Free Strategic Planning Course by BSC Designer

Continuous learning

Possible initiatives are:

  • Understand asset requirements in terms of infrastructure and equipment
  • Analyze Picking Methodology
  • Introduce 5S Lean Warehousing

Finally, the keystone of warehouse safety is Culture of safety with these initiatives aligned:

  • Design facilities with safety in mind
  • Train on safe logistics
  • Strict standards for safety

The measurement part, in this case, can be represented by these metrics:


Warehouse dashboard example

An example of the dashboard for a warehouse with diagrams for key indicators, Gantt chart, and the list of initiatives with their statuses and budgets. Source: View Warehouse Scorecard online in BSC Designer Warehouse Scorecard.

Final Word

A warehouse today should adapt to the fast pace of stock turnaround, new technological and logistical challenges.

In this article, we discussed the basic process metrics that will help to achieve excellence in warehouse operations, as well as an example of a strategy map template that will help to align warehouse strategy with the overall needs of the organization.


Warehouse KPIs Infographic

What's next?
  • Sign up for a free account at BSC Designer to access the scorecard templates, including 'Warehouse Scorecard' discussed in this article.
  • Follow our “Strategy Strategy Deployment System to align stakeholders, strategic ambitions, and business frameworks into a comprehensive strategy.

More About Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning Process:
BSC Designer software will support your team on all steps of strategic planning.
Examples of the Balanced Scorecard:
Examples of the Balanced Scorecard with KPIs
Strategy Maps:
8 Steps to Create a Strategy Map By BSC Designer
  1. Frazelle, E., 2002, World-class Warehousing and Material Handling, McGraw-Hill, New York
  2. DC Measures Annual Survey & Report
Cite as: Alexis Savkín, "Warehouse KPIs and Balanced Scorecard," BSC Designer, May 22, 2019, https://bscdesigner.com/warehouse-kpis.htm.

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