It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that software will single-handedly jump-start your Balanced Scorecard process. Although technology and tools provide Balanced Scorecards with easy reporting interfaces, concrete views, and version control, the underlying BSC process still needs to be grounded with a clear vision and purpose.
Before launching into a Balanced Scorecard implementation, I recommend to clients that they spend a full morning working to understand why and how they want to use the Balanced Scorecard.
1. Why are you using the Balanced Scorecard? What are your goals?
If you’ve been using the Balanced Scorecard for a while, this answer may come easily to you. However, if you’re just launching your performance management system, the vision may be a bit fuzzier. Common responses include:
- Improve my strategic planning process
- Communicate organizational goals to employees
- Communicate performance in regular documents to the board
- Better facilitate performance meetings
- Connect project management to strategy
2. How often do you want to meet and review Balanced Scorecard data?
This question gets at how you actually want to leverage the scorecard. Do you want to quickly discuss items on a monthly basis with your team, as a quasi-operational discussion with a strategic context? Or do you want to align leadership and the board on a quarterly frequency (which we recommend), with a greater emphasis on the big picture over tactics.
3. Who is going to collect data?
Organizations generally centralize or decentralize the BSC management process, depending on the size of the organization and office of strategy management. For small organizations that have an employee dedicated to the strategy management process, a centralized approach where a single employee is responsible for large pieces of data collection and BSC oversight may be most efficient.
Larger organizations with multiple scorecards and people facilitating the BSC process may elect to further decentralize the process, with separate KPI, objective, and initiative owners all entering their own data. With a decentralized approach, it is critical to identify if senior leaders will take on the accountability of updating the BSC, or if they will have delegates assisting.
Most commonly there is a mix between centralized and decentralized data collection, where administrators may take on chunks of work, and other strategy owners have their own assigned responsibilities.
Regardless of the exact approach, the intent of answering this question is to more clearly define the scope of your Balanced Scorecard, who will take ownership, and how the ownership will be divided across and down the organization.