Your Balanced Scorecard System Decision – The Formula for Success

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Most new balanced scorecard organizations choose to begin their balanced scorecard reporting efforts using a familiar application such as Word or Excel. While this may seem to be a good way to start, these organizations quickly find that this approach to BSC results reporting is very manual and resource intensive. In addition, they discover that the standard available applications are not designed to facilitate the presentation of BSC results in a comprehensive and integrated way (i.e. results data, trend charts, root cause analysis commentary, and associated corrective action plans all available in one view).

Unfortunately, by choosing NOT to invest in a balanced scorecard system application upfront, new balanced scorecard organizations actually risk balanced scorecard failure. This is because people get annoyed by the new work associated with reporting BSC results, the BSC report development effort is under-resourced, and the resulting BSC report is underwhelming – all deflating the organization’s initial excitement and expectations for the balanced scorecard.

Many organizations avoid balanced scorecard applications initially because they assume that they are expensive. Others do so because they want to gain BSC reporting experience before adding in a new technology. The truth is that there are a lot of balanced scorecard system applications out there at a variety of price points and with a wide range of functional capabilities. The bottom line is that all organizations should be able to find a quality BSC system application that has the functionality they need at the price they want.

You can source candidate BSC system applications by asking your peer organizations what system they use and why. You can also check out the list of accredited software applications offered by the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative/Palladium Group – this can give you a good starting point.

My preferred BSC application was performancesoft however it’s no longer available.  As many of you know, we had great success with it at Canada Life and I know many organizations that used this application to optimize their use of the balanced scorecard. In my opinion, it was the best, most flexible, BSC system application available at the time.

It is important to realize that your BSC system choice is one of the most critical decisions you must make as you implement the balanced scorecard within your organization. But, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task! Here is a simple formula for success that you can use to guide this critical selection process.

1. Develop your balanced scorecard principles/philosophy FIRST – See one of my earlier blogs to learn more about this important process

2. Define your system application requirements – Using your BSC philosophy as your guide, work with your fellow balanced scorecard development team members to brainstorm on your system functionality requirements. Use the following categories to define your requirements:
Data Entry Processes (e.g. Manual or automated data entry? Will the system complete calculations? Will the system automatically assign results icons? etc.)
Data Display (e.g. Graphs? Tables? Results icons/color-coding? Commentary? etc.)
Accessibility (e.g. Who has write access? Who has read only access? etc.)
Security Needs/Requirements (e.g. What corporate security standards must we adhere to? Do we need variable levels of security? etc.)
Other (e.g. budget limits, resource considerations, flexibility for enhancements, system scalability, etc.)

3. Detail and prioritize your BSC system application requirements – The next step in the process is to take your system requirements list and assign priority to each item on your list. That is, review your list and determine what should be defined as “have to have” versus what should be defined as “nice to have”. This exercise will require some effort on the part of your balanced scorecard development team members, however, this work is essential for your final system selection.

4. Complete an objective review of system/software options using your prioritized system application requirements – Once you have prioritized your system requirements, create a marking template that can be used in your review of system application options. List your “have to have” and “nice to have” system features and apply these evaluation standards to each software solution you assess. During system functionality demonstrations with each software vendor, assess whether the system application being reviewed has the required features on your list, and make notes/comments as required. Complete one marking template for every system application reviewed.

5. Select a system application that delivers the majority of your required/must have system application requirements – Now for the moment of truth – the time where you actually select the balanced scorecard system that is right for your organization. To do this, take each of the completed marking templates and compare your evaluation and notes. Which system application best delivers on your requirements? Needless to say, you should seriously consider selecting the application that satisfies the majority of your “have to have” system application requirements.

And that’s it – the formula for making a sound and objective balanced scorecard system decision. If you complete each of these steps carefully, I can almost guarantee that you will select the balanced scorecard system application that is the best match for your organization’s unique approach and needs!

Are you looking for an easy to use strategy management/BSC application for your organization? Why not take a look at StrategyShare – a new strategy management collaboration platform and workspace that helps you put everything you need to create and manage your strategy together in one place. Learn more at