Any object or person that is responsible for showing, pointing out or describing the characteristics of an entity external to their person is called an indicator. In the same way, it can be defined as the series of data or information, concerning a certain important aspect, such as culture or the economy, where its current state can be evaluated and how its evolution will be over time. In chemistry, this is the name given to acids and bases that are introduced into any substance. And, by the action of ions, they are capable of changing color; This is generally applied in studies of various kinds, to observe the reactions to which substances are subjected.

What is an indicator

Taking into account the previous explanation, an indicator is understood as a series of starting or reference points that are made up of different data, numbers, information, measures and even opinions that open the way to the development of a study, evaluation or a specific process that is related to it.

It is also about the sample of something by means of a signal or a series of certain indications. For example, the word can be used in an economic topic: “The country’s current salary is an indicator that, economically, the territory is in deep decline.”

In principle it is difficult to understand what an indicator is due to the different sciences or disciplines that use it, this shows that it is a fairly general word, but with an important and unmistakable meaning in any of the disciplines that use it.

It is a point of reference that provides qualitative or quantitative information, as the case may be, and that is made up of facts.

You can take the floor on various topics and its concept does not change, it does not matter if you talk about a political, economic, quality, mathematical or demographic indicators, in the end, it will always be a reference, signal or indication .

The indicators can even be physical, in a way that they can guide people to a destination or prevent them from doing something, for example, there are the indicators on traffic signs, clocks (which indicate the time) etc. The word indicator is used daily to talk about a reality that can stay that way or change.

Functions of an indicator

By providing valuable information in an investigation or conversation due to the relevance and reference it has with other topics or disciplines, the indicators have a specific function and that is to constitute a basis or monitoring parameter to be able to evaluate the project from which they are based. speaks or of the one who is about to be executed, but also correctly specify the objectives always in a precise and concise manner, so that each one is enough to use it not once but several times. That is why it is necessary that the indicators be verified before using them regardless of the context or their type.

Characteristics of an indicator

No matter the topic or context in which it is applied, it will always have a series of characteristics that make it unique and individualize it from the rest of the words. In addition, it must always be equipped with availability, that is, it can provide data and collect it when it is most needed, so the need is imperative.

It also has to have simplicity, this means that its understanding is easy and that it can be defined in different ways according to the context. It is imperative that it be adaptable, so that it adjusts to the needs and variations of its use.

Stability is also part of the main characteristics of the indicator and that is because there is a logical base in which the same parameters can be used in the future. It must be traceable because you have to find the origin of that indicator, why it is mentioned or used, where was the first time it was used and how it was used.

Finally, it must have a level of representativeness and relevance, so that its validity can be evaluated and finally used without any problem.

Elements of an indicator

Like any discipline or important topic, the indicators also have elements, these make their conceptualization or definition specific and exact. It is not something complicated, much less extensive, simply a series of compounds that make the word indicator make sense and that it can be used in different opportunities according to the context, type and function.

The first element is the “what”, that is, what is the exact reference of the indicator, what is it talking about or what does it intend to link.

The second element is “who, whom or what” are the numbers or collectivity of which is being discussed.

“How much”, is the other element that should be mentioned in this section and it is about the numerical values ​​that are involved in the subject in question, what is the parameter that is sought or that it has.

“When” refers to the exact moment in which that indicator is going to be used or was used, whether it is a specific time period, a year or a day.

Lastly, “where” and refers to the site or place where the indicator is being used or will be used. Some of the elements may be omitted depending on the context in which they will be used, generally where and when.

Types of indicators


Every organization needs to have the measures of effectiveness, this is because if there is no control or the measures of something, there is no opportunity to improve and, therefore, there is no evolution. Most companies and disciplines have different types of indicators that provide optimal benefits in terms of measurement and control, both in a company and in decision-making, mathematical accounts, etc.

The types of indicators go beyond examples such as health, Ph, chemistry or productivity indicators, they refer more to a business environment, however, they can be used in different topics.

punctual indicators

They provide data and information on certain situations, as well as their statistics in cases of the provision of a specific service. In itself, it is a numerical statistic, generally applied in censuses, forms, etc. Macroeconomic indicators could be mentioned as a direct example of this aspect.

Accumulated indicators

They are generally used in large companies to establish the strategies that must be followed according to the results of the accounting month, so as to increase profits and leave aside the policies that did not favor them. With this, what is sought is to have a measure of the management indices in companies, that is, the so-called performance indicators.

Efficacy indicators

Its objective is to verify if the goals set by the company, person or discipline, according to the context, have been achieved in the period of time that has been stipulated with a prior index. It is a more quantitative than qualitative measurement because it compares previous achievements with those that were sought to be obtained.

Efficiency indicators

It is about productive measurement and the impact that costs have on the production of services or goods of a company, of course, this in a business environment. They graph or show the scope of numbers, products, or a specific brand.

Effectiveness indicators

It is based on the ability to transform all the weaknesses of a company into strengths that allow it to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. It seeks innovation and meets the needs of the client or person depending on the context in which it is used.

Planning indicators

The difference seen between what was planned and what was executed is measured. It is an active means of comparison between one topic and another, even between numbers, equations, politics or medicine. These are important in all areas, precisely because thanks to comparisons, the potentiality of the subject increases, a way is found to outperform the competition.

Quality indicators

They are simply proof that the data, elements or compounds provided are valid and reliable, not only at a business level, but also in a general scope.

Examples of indicators


As has been mentioned throughout this content, an indicator is the comparison between one or more data, this originates a specific result or value whose meaning is understandable for the person in charge of the analysis.

These can be used in endless fields, there is not a single one that takes it as its own, for which its use has a fairly long reach. One of the most feasible examples to mention are the percentage indicators, as well as the usual indicators such as unemployment, informality or activity rates.

In addition, as already mentioned, they can be used for different purposes, for example, management indicators are used to have a fixed monitoring of the activities and inputs of a company. These measure the number of computers available to employees, active employees in the company, general staff (not only administrative but also workers) and working hours. Another feasible example in this section are those of product or result, which measure or establish the relationship between the goods and services originated by the training actions.

The result indicators are responsible for measuring the training quotas that have been created, the variables in the designs of the elaborated curricula, the variability in the regulations of the competences, the variation in the total number of teachers available for the training or training and the number of hours available for training.

Another example is the impact indicators, which externalize the change that is expected after the training or formation given. These changes are expressed in certain periods of time, it can be short, medium or long term, it all depends on the effectiveness of the content taught.

The impact indicators measure the variation in income, the various employment situations, the notable increase in productivity in training, in the case of work accidents, their decrease or increase, improvements in the area of health, the return rates of the entire staff according to the invested unit and the global return, also from the invested unit approach.

Indicator FAQ

What is called an indicator?

An indicator can be any person or object that describes, indicates or shows the basic characteristics that a certain subject or thing has. Indicators can also provide data or general information that has an important characteristic.

What is an indicator for?

It serves to indicate, show, point out or describe the net or natural physical characteristics of a person, object or thing. Generally, the indicators serve to display the information necessary to store data of something.

What is a chemical indicator?

It is a type of substance that generates a chemical reaction, this reaction results in a change or alteration in the color of an object, which reaches a total point of balance. These indicators are not easy to handle, so they must be used by trained people.

What is a biological indicator?

These are tools of biological systems that are used to understand factors related to a specific environment. These indicators study the species or remains of organisms to understand the phenomena that may occur in a specific or determined environment.

What indicator is used to measure economic growth?

It is measured through percentages of gross domestic product, that is, GDP.