Indicators That Measure Output (Reach and Engagement)


Outputs are the products that result from processes. KM outputs are typically categorized into four main areas: products and services, publications and resources, training and events, and approaches and techniques. This section describes indicators that measure the reach of certain KM outputs to intended users and the users’ engagement with these outputs. These are basic but important KM concepts.

  • Reach is defined as the breadth (how far, such as the total number of intended users reached) and saturation (how deep, such as the proportion of intended users reached) of dissemination, distribution, or referral of the KM output/product in print and/or electronic forms. Measuring reach quantifies how far an output was disseminated. This can provide valuable information on the extent to which products get into the hands of intended users. Also, these data inform the planning, promotion, and budgeting of current and future KM outputs, and can improve management of product development and production.
  • Engagement suggests the intensity with which users spend time and interact with it. Engagement can be characterized by continuous action and commitment among users to foster knowledge flow.

In general, the data collected for all of the indicators in this section are quantitative. These data should be continually collected and analyzed to track trends over time. The schedule for routine data collection should be determined—monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually—and, when applicable, the percent increase should be calculated and recorded to monitor progress. In most instances, an increase in the number or percentage should be expected, and desired, due to the implementation of KM outreach activities. However, in some cases, a decline in the number or percentage is desirable. For example, an organization may have an activity to convert publications originally produced in print into an electronic format and post them on an online database or toolkit for intended users to download and print. In this case, the organization would aim to reduce the number of hard copy distributions, while increasing the number of file downloads. Therefore, in presenting findings, it may be helpful to explain the context and desired direction of the trend.


Indicators that measure the reach and engagement of outputs are grouped into three subcategories: 1) primary dissemination, 2) secondary dissemination, and 3) referrals and exchange. Altogether, 10 indicators are mapped to these subcategories (indicators 14 to 23).

Subcategory (Area)Description
Primary disseminationRefers to dissemination by the original developer/implementer to intended users. Primary dissemination includes initial and direct contacts and information/knowledge flows.
Secondary disseminationRefers to dissemination as a result of user-initiated requests or reproductions, visits to and downloads from a web product, and news media mentions.
Referrals and exchangeRefers to communication or contribution in oral or written form, as well as connection via web links and social media, and relates to various means through which people can find their way to resources, share them via a variety of channels, contribute their own knowledge, and /or continue to engage in a knowledge community.