The balanced scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that is used extensively in business and industry, government, and nonprofit organizations worldwide to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals. It was originated by Drs. Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and David Norton as a performance measurement framework that added strategic non-financial performance measures to traditional financial metrics to give managers and executives a more balanced view of organizational performance.
While the phrase balanced scorecard was coined in the early 1990s, the roots of the this type of approach are deep, and include the pioneering work of General Electric on performance measurement reporting in the 1950’s and the work of French process engineers (who created theTableau de Bord – literally, a dashboard of performance measures) in the early part of the 20th century. The balanced scorecard has evolved from its early use as a simple performance measurement framework to a full strategic planning and management system. The “new” balanced scorecard transforms an organization’s strategic plan from an attractive but passive document into the marching orders for the organization on a daily basis. It provides a framework that not only provides performance measurements, but helps planners identify what should be done and measured. It enables executives to truly execute their strategies.
The BSC method of Kaplan and Norton is a strategic approach and performance management system that enables organizations to translate a companys vision and strategy into implementation, working from 4 perspectives:
1. financial perspective,
2. customer perspective,
3. business process perspective,
4. learning and growth perspective.
Ad 1: The BSC / Financial perspective: Kaplan and Norton do not disregard the traditional need for financial data. Timely and accurate funding data will always be a priority, and managers will do whatever necessary to provide it. In fact, often there is more than enough handling and processing of financial data. With the implementation of a corporate database, it is hoped that more of the processing can be centralized and automated. But the point is that the current emphasis on financials leads to the unbalanced situation with regard to other perspectives. There is perhaps a need to include additional financial-related data, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit data, in this category.
Ad 2: The BSC / Customer perspective: recent management philosophy has shown an increasing realization of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. These are leading indicators: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance from this perspective is thus a leading indicator of future decline, even though the current financial picture may look good. In developing metrics for satisfaction, customers should be analyzed in terms of kinds of customers and the kinds of processes for which we are providing a product or service to those customer groups.
Ad 3: The BSC / Business Process perspective refers to internal business processes. Metrics based on this perspective allow the managers to know how well their business is running, and whether its products and services conform to customer requirements (the mission). These metrics have to be carefully designed by those who know these processes most intimately. In addition to the strategic management process, two kinds of business processes may be identified: a) mission-oriented processes, and b) support processes. Mission-oriented processes are the special functions of government offices, and many unique problems are encountered in these processes. The support processes are more repetitive in nature, and hence easier to measure and benchmark using generic metrics.
Ad 4: The BSC / Learning and Growth perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. In a knowledge-worker organization, people are the main resource. In the current climate of rapid technological change, it is becoming necessary for knowledge workers to be in a continuous learning mode. Government agencies often find themselves unable to hire new technical workers and at the same time is showing a decline in training of existing employees. Kaplan and Norton emphasize that learning is more than training; it also includes things like mentors and tutors within the organization, as well as that ease of communication among workers that allows them to readily get help on a problem when it is needed. It also includes technological tools such as an Intranet.
The integration of these four perspectives into a graphical appealing picture have made the Balanced Scorecard method a very successful methodology within the Value Based Management philos