First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.
Generate a Balanced Scorecard
Understanding the balanced scorecard
Once a concept primarily associated with balancing financial and strategic objectives, the balanced scorecard has now evolved into a holistic, all-encompassing management strategy.
- Organizations now use the balanced scorecard to:
- Communicate what they are trying to accomplish.
- Ensure that all employees are aligned in their day to day activities and values.
- Prioritize the implementation of products, services, and projects.
- Define strategic targets and then measure and monitor progress toward them.
By focusing on these four distinct areas, balanced scorecards reinforce good behavior in each and encourage growth and learning according to company objectives.
If objectives are not being met, then businesses can identify and then address factors that hinder performance.
Balanced scorecards, or BSCs, are used extensively in business, industry, government, and non-profit settings worldwide.
Many of the largest companies in the US, Europe, and Asia are using this system – and for good reason.
A recent study by Bain & Co discovered that it was the fifth most widely used management tool globally.
Harvard Business Review editors also called the BSC system one of the most influential ideas of the past 75 years.
The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard
The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity.
Each has a proven track record of the effectiveness of several decades of use in business, and each is outlined briefly below.
For many businesses, the financial perspective is concerned with meeting shareholder expectations and making a profit.
This perspective is often the easiest to define and measure, but it is nonetheless a major focus of any balanced scorecard.
If the business is not making money, then it hints at problems in other perspectives which must be addressed.
The focus of the customer perspective is the implementation of measures directly related to customer satisfaction.
Satisfaction can be gauged when analyzing customer feedback on a business’s products and services around metrics such as quality, price, and availability.
Otherwise known as business processes, these define how well a business is operating.
Often, the success of business operations is defined by the ability to meet customer needs.
However, managing internal processes also means identifying any gaps, delays, shortages, or waste and then addressing them accordingly.
Learning and growth
This perspective looks at the culture of an organization. Are employees aware of the latest industry trends?
Does the organization encourage progressive and collaborative communication between employees?
Or are processes hampered by red tape? Most importantly, do employees have fair and easy access to training and other opportunities that enhance their growth?
Balanced scorecard examples
Before we delve into a balanced scorecard example, it’s worth noting that the term “scorecard” is a relic from the days when the concept was first introduced.
To be effective, the balanced scorecard needs to focus more on objectives and less on the data.
This is not to say scores are unimportant, however.
They still matter in the context of defining what a business wants to achieve in the future, but they should not be used to measure metrics that may or may not impact the final result.
So what does a balanced scorecard contain?
The business needs to start by defining a set of objectives and understanding how improvements in one objective will have a positive impact on other objectives.
Typically, it is the impact of people, processes, and infrastructure on revenue or customer satisfaction that is most relevant.
The objectives themselves should also be listed in addition to their respective measures, KPIs, and initiatives.
Now let’s consider the example of a telecommunications company that has the vision to transform society via its ultra-high-speed cellular network.
The company’s mission, perhaps unsurprisingly, is to become the #1 such provider in the United States.
The four balanced scorecard objectives for the telco company
Below we will take a brief look at all four objectives and list a measure, KPI, and initiative for each:
- Financial – increase profit (objective), net profit (measure), increase of 5% per year (KPI), implement a new accounting system (initiative).
- Customer – improve end-user experience (objective), customer satisfaction index (CSI) (measure), increase by 2.5% per year (KPI), complete detailed user requirement research (initiative).
- Internal processes – improve end-user ease of use (objective), user experience score (measure), at least 90% every reporting period (KPI), develop a training program for user interface and new offerings (initiative).
- Learning and growth – improve skills and knowledge (objective), employee development plans (measure), at least 95% introduced by EOFY (KPI), provide training on marketing and the product (initiative).
Notice how each objective has implications for the others.
For example, improving ease of use then improves the end-user experience and increases profit.
Strategic priorities and core values
As the telecommunications company grows, it may be prudent to break the vision down into smaller parts that different teams can work on.
These usually take the form of strategic priorities and results that may deserve balanced scorecards of their own.
Examples of strategic results and priorities include:
- Brand awareness – a rejuvenated brand that uses past successes to appeal to the next generation of smartphone users.
- Customer service – clarity of product with a streamlined user interface. Market-leading customer service that challenges the belief that all telecommunications companies offer opaque pricing and poor customer service from offshore call centers.
- Content partnerships – a robust supply chain for information and content services with exclusive agreements in place.
Lastly and at the bottom of the balanced scorecard, the companies list the following values: transparency, accountability, collaboration, customer-centricity, empathy, simplicity, adaptability, and innovation.
Balanced Scorecard vs. OKR
Whereas the balanced scorecard is a tool to address performance with a more holistic approach.
The OKR is an aggressive, team-based, and open goal-setting tool, for startups and innovative organizations.
OKR is based on four superpowers:
- Focus and Commit to priorities
- Align and connect for teamwork
- Track for accountability
- Stretch for amazing
And the cycle follows these steps:
Balanced Scorecard and The Strategy Map
A strategy map is a tool that can be used in conjunction with the balanced scorecard to assess the performance of an organization better.
The strategy map in particular, is a visual representation of the organization looking at four aspects:
Both tools can be used to have a deeper qualitative understanding of the organization.
Balanced Scorecard and The Hoshin Kanri
Where the balanced scorecard helps an organization to better assess the performance, the Hoshin Kanri matrix can be used in the execution phase for alignment between short and long-term goals, through four main quadrants:
- Breakthrough objectives (bottom quadrant)
- Annual objectives (left quadrant)
- Annual improvement opportunities and priorities (top quadrant)
- Metrics to measure and targets to improve (right quadrant)
- The balanced scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that businesses use to get a more “balanced” view of their performance.
- The balanced scorecard has evolved from humble beginnings to be a holistic framework for business growth.
- The balanced scorecard consists of four primary objectives with a track record of enabling businesses to become successful.
- Description: The Balanced Scorecard is a management system developed by Robert Kaplan that enables organizations to focus on overarching strategic goals. It comprises four perspectives: financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity, providing a comprehensive view of the business.
- Understanding the Balanced Scorecard:
- Originally centered on balancing financial and strategic goals, the Balanced Scorecard has evolved into a holistic management strategy.
- Its use cases include communication of objectives, alignment of employee activities, prioritization of products and projects, and monitoring progress towards strategic targets.
- By focusing on the four perspectives, the framework encourages positive behavior, growth, and learning aligned with the organization’s goals.
- Four Perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard:
- Financial Perspective: Focuses on profitability and meeting shareholder expectations.
- Customer Perspective: Measures customer satisfaction through feedback, metrics like quality, price, and availability.
- Internal Processes Perspective: Evaluates the effectiveness of internal processes to meet customer needs.
- Learning and Growth Perspective: Examines the organizational culture, employee development, and access to training.
- Balanced Scorecard Examples:
- The balanced scorecard’s focus should be on objectives and less on scores.
- It consists of defining objectives, understanding their impact on other objectives, illustrating relationships on a strategy map, and listing measures, KPIs, and initiatives.
- Example: A telecommunications company with the vision to transform society via ultra-high-speed cellular networks. Objectives and initiatives are set for financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth perspectives.
- Strategic Priorities and Core Values:
- Strategic priorities and results may deserve their own balanced scorecards as the organization grows.
- Strategic results and priorities may include brand awareness, customer service, and content partnerships.
- Balanced Scorecard vs. OKR:
- The balanced scorecard offers a holistic approach to performance management.
- OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a more aggressive, team-based goal-setting tool with a focus on focus, alignment, tracking, and stretching.
- Balanced Scorecard and The Strategy Map:
- Strategy maps are visual representations of organizational objectives and their interconnections.
- Strategy maps complement the balanced scorecard by visually communicating strategy to all levels of the organization.
- Balanced Scorecard and The Hoshin Kanri:
- The Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix aligns short and long-term goals.
- It consists of breakthrough objectives, annual objectives, annual improvement opportunities, and metrics for measurement.
- Key Elements To Remind:
- The Balanced Scorecard is a comprehensive framework for strategic planning and management.
- It encompasses four perspectives: financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth.
- The framework encourages alignment, positive behavior, and organizational growth towards strategic objectives.
Connected Strategy Frameworks
Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Business Models, Tech Business Models, Jobs-To-Be Done, Design Thinking, Lean Startup Canvas, Value Chain, Value Proposition Canvas, Balanced Scorecard, Business Model Canvas, SWOT Analysis, Growth Hacking, Bundling, Unbundling, Bootstrapping, Venture Capital, Porter’s Five Forces, Porter’s Generic Strategies, Porter’s Five Forces, PESTEL Analysis, SWOT, Porter’s Diamond Model, Ansoff, Technology Adoption Curve, TOWS, SOAR, Balanced Scorecard, OKR, Agile Methodology, Value Proposition, VTDF
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