What Are Measures and Metrics in Power BI?

Measures are calculations that you apply to data points. You can use them in Power BI visuals to calculate values on individual records at the row level.

A measurement is a unit of quantity, such as length or weight. But it also can mean an action or a step toward a goal.


Measurements are important for understanding the world around us and for solving problems. They are the foundation of all science, mathematics and engineering disciplines.

Learning to read and use meters, grams, kilograms and tons is an essential part of school math education. These units are used to describe length, force, weight and volume/capacity.

Moving beyond descriptive to diagnostic is the next step in measurement. This allows you to see trends over time, understand why something happened and what actions will improve the situation.

Setting metrics reveals issues to be addressed, provides objective results, and maintains alignment of data management processes with business objectives. Using a mix of automated and manual processes will help stakeholders gain proficiency at measuring. It’s also important to consider what types of data you are looking for when choosing your metrics and measures. This may affect the type of process or product you choose to measure. For example, if you want to measure both Sales and Profit, you will need to choose two individual measures that can be combined in a view.


There are many different types of measures and metrics. Each one has its own particular application, depending on what a measure is used to evaluate or track. For example, a process measure would focus on a set of steps that must be followed in order to achieve an outcome. A quality measure is more specific, assessing how well something has been done.

The nominal level is the most basic, involving labeling observations into categories that must be mutually exclusive and exhaustive (for example,’sick’ or ‘healthy’ when measuring health). The ordinal level allows for rank ordering (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.) but doesn’t allow for a degree of difference between observations, such as the ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ judgments made by a jury in a court case.

A ratio measurement reflects the relative importance of attributes. For example, a product survey might ask respondents to allocate a constant sum of points, dollars or chips among the stimulus objects to determine which are most important.

Choosing the Right Measures and Metrics

Choosing metrics should be based on what is most important to the business goals and objectives. Avoid vanity metrics and those that provide no insight or indicate opportunities for action. It’s also important to select metrics that provide a high level of accuracy and consistency (e.g., apple-to-apple trending) and can be produced efficiently.

A measure is a data point that represents an individual unit of measurement, such as number of candles sold in a transaction or average basket size. A metric puts that measure in context, such as a sales performance indicator, customer satisfaction score or revenue growth rate.

Ultimately, KPIs track progress toward strategic goals and metrics add insights for more contextual data to inform decision-making. By carefully defining and matching goals, establishing appropriate metrics and consistently assessing their relevance to business needs, organizations can effectively track performance and meet their goals. The right combination of measures, metrics and KPIs creates an aligned performance tracking framework.

Using Measures and Metrics

The right metrics can help you focus your team on what’s important, whether it’s increasing efficiency or decreasing complaints. They also provide a window into the company’s ambition, ethos and performance.

Metrics are the building blocks of KPIs, which track strategic goals and provide context. Without them, you don’t have the data to assess your progress toward a desired outcome or understand why your results are good or bad.

Measures can represent business-specific values, such as products sold, web visits or calls received. They can also include values from processes, such as operating temperature, cycles or speed. The most useful metrics are those that support SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound). For example, a software development company could use measures to track bug resolution times or customer feedback, which would help them prioritize features for new releases and ensure customer satisfaction. Moreover, they could identify bottlenecks in their process and make improvements to reduce lead times or improve on-time delivery.