Home » Operations Management » Balanced Scorecard

Balanced Scorecard

August 25, 2023
Bill Kimball

A recent global study by Bain & Co listed balanced scorecard fifth on its top ten most widely used management tools around the world. BSC has also been selected by the editors of Harvard Business Review as one of the most influential business ideas of the past 75 years. Probably because traditional measurement systems have sprung from the finance function, the systems have a control bias. That is, traditional performance measurement systems specify the particular actions they want employees to take and then measure to see whether the employees have in fact taken those actions. Such measurement systems fit with the engineering mentality of the Industrial Age. Information systems play an invaluable role in helping managers disaggregate the summary measures.

By alerting managers to areas where performance deviates from expectations, they can be encouraged to focus their attention on these areas, and hopefully as a result trigger improved performance within the part of the organization they lead. This new approach to strategic management was first detailed in a series of articles and books by Drs.

balanced scorecard managerial accounting

The business ecosystem described by Iansiti and Levien provides another interesting concept related to developing strategy. Briefly the main idea is that a company needs to define the business environment or ecosystem in which it operates, and recognize the company’s position within the system, to help determine which strategy to follow. Senior executives reach a consensus on the vision, objectives and measurements hashed out in the prior two workshops and develop stretch performance targets for each measure. The organization identifies the business unit for which a top-level scorecard is appropriate. Broadly defined, this is a business unit that has its own customers, distribution channels, production facilities and financial goals. For the customer perspective, it emphasized market share and customer satisfaction.

A company’s ability to innovate, improve, and learn ties directly to the company’s value. That is, only through the ability to launch new products, create more value for customers, and improve operating efficiencies continually can a company penetrate new markets and increase revenues and margins—in short, grow and thereby increase shareholder value. While giving senior managers information from four different perspectives, the balanced scorecard minimizes information overload by limiting the number of measures used. More commonly, they keep adding new measures whenever an employee or a consultant makes a worthwhile suggestion. One manager described the proliferation of new measures at his company as its “kill another tree program.” The balanced scorecard forces managers to focus on the handful of measures that are most critical.

Final Summary Of Quantitative And Quantitative Performance Measurement Tools

The challenge is to learn how to make such explicit linkage between operations and finance. Exploring the complex dynamics will likely require simulation and cost modeling. Did these breakthrough improvements in quality, productivity, and customer service provide substantial benefits to the company? During the same three-year period, the company’s financial results showed little improvement, and its stock price plummeted to one-third of its July 1987 value.

Strategic Objectives are the actions we must implement into our daily activities in order to see improvement in our strategies. They break down abstract concepts like mission and vision into actionable steps. In response to these concerns there have been many studies seeking to provide academic underpinnings for the Balanced Scorecard concept, and to provide case study and validation information for the various design generations. Balanced scorecard has been widely adopted, and consistently has been found to be the most popular performance management framework in a widely respected annual survey (e.g. see results from 2003 and 2013).

Strategic feedback and learning – executives receive feedback on whether the strategy implementation is proceeding according to plan and on whether the strategy itself is successful (“double-loop learning”). Cascadinga balanced scorecard means to translate the corporate-wide scorecard down to first business units, support units or departments and then teams or individuals .

Even an excellent set of balanced scorecard measures does not guarantee a winning strategy. The balanced scorecard can only translate a company’s strategy into specific measurable objectives. A failure to convert improved operational performance, as measured in the scorecard, into improved financial performance should send executives back to their drawing boards to rethink the company’s strategy or its implementation plans. You’ve learned about some common performance measures such as ROI, RI, EVA, and the balanced scorecard. The more accurately and efficiently a company can monitor and measure its decision-making processes at all levels, the more quickly it can respond to change or problems, and the more likely the company will be able to meet its strategic goals. Most companies will use some combination of the quantitative and nonquantitative measures described. ROI, RI, and EVA are typically used to evaluate specific projects, but ROI is sometimes used as a divisional measure.

The ECI scorecard was designed to focus the attention of its top executives on a short list of critical indicators of current and future performance. Although it helps focus managers’ attention on strategic issues and the management of the implementation of strategy, it is important to remember that the balanced scorecard itself has no role in the formation of strategy. In fact, balanced scorecards can co-exist with strategic planning systems and other tools. The book reflects the earliest incarnations of balanced scorecards – effectively restating the concept as described in the second Harvard Business Review article. Balanced Scorecard was initially proposed as a general purpose performance management system. Subsequently, it was promoted specifically as an approach to strategic performance management. Balanced scorecard has more recently become a key component of structured approaches corporate strategic management.

In order to ensure that this occurs, the specific goals and metrics are created. As previously expressed, it is best if these objectives, measures, and targets are determined by a process that includes management and the employees. Without employee input, employees may feel resentful of targets over which they had no input. But, the employees alone cannot set their own goals and targets, as there could be a tendency to set easy targets, or the employee may not be aware of how his or her efforts affect the division and overall corporation.

  • Kaplan and Norton’s article wasn’t the only paper on the topic published in early 1992 but the 1992 Kaplan and Norton paper was a popular success, and was quickly followed by a second in 1993.
  • Therefore, it is useful to see how the balanced scorecard can be used at an individual employee level.
  • This frustration is often vented at nameless Wall Street analysts who allegedly cannot see past quarterly blips in financial performance to the underlying long-term values these executives sincerely believe they are creating in their organizations.
  • Hewlett-Packard uses a metric called breakeven time to measure the effectiveness of its product development cycle.
  • Forrester’s chief business technology officer explains how tools that capture data in real time can help healthcare organizations…
  • An increase in the market share of the company increases the return on equity and, in turn, the shareholder’s value as well.

You’ve learned that ROI, RI, and EVA can be used to evaluate performance. There are other financial measures that can be used as well, for example, earnings per share , revenue growth, sales growth, inventory turnover, and many others.

What Is A Balanced Scorecard?

The excess capacity must be either used by boosting revenues or eliminated by reducing expenses if operational improvements are to be brought down to the bottom line. We will illustrate how companies can create their own balanced scorecard with the experiences of one semiconductor company—let’s call it Electronic Circuits Inc. ECI saw the scorecard as a way to clarify, simplify, and then operationalize the vision at the top of the organization.

balanced scorecard managerial accounting

This linkage ensures that employees at lower levels in the organization have clear targets for actions, decisions, and improvement activities that will contribute to the company’s overall mission. The name “balanced scorecard” comes from the idea of looking at strategic measures in addition to traditional financial measures to get a more “balanced” view of performance. The concept of balanced scorecard has evolved beyond the simple use of perspectives and it is now a holistic system for managing strategy.

Nominate Your Organization For The Institute’s Award For Excellence

Johnson & Johnson’s code of conduct makes it clear that the company has a responsibility to several competing stakeholders. The balanced scorecard is a set of performance targets and results that show an organization’s performance in meeting its objectives to its stakeholders. It is a management tool that recognizes organizational responsibility to different stakeholder groups, such as employees, suppliers, customers, business partners, the community, and shareholders.

Customer perspective – includes measures such as customer satisfaction, customer retention, and market share in target segments. A semiconductor company asked each major customer to rank the company against comparable suppliers on efforts to improve quality, delivery time, and price performance. When the manufacturer discovered that it ranked in the middle, managers made improvements that moved the company to the top of customers’ rankings. In small and medium-sized enterprises Balanced Scorecard has been found to be effective, but that focus is required on balancing design complexity and relevance with the availability of resource to do the design work. In short, first generation balanced scorecards are hard to design in a way that builds confidence that they are well designed. A balanced scorecard is a strategy performance management tool – a well structured report, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their control and to monitor the consequences arising from these actions.

ECI also asked its top ten customers to rank the company as a supplier overall. Focus on the core competencies, processes, decisions, and actions that have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction. ECI developed operational measures for submicron technology capability, manufacturing excellence, design productivity, and new product introduction.


The chain of cause and effect relationships may start with improvements in the area of learning and growth. These improvements tend to cause improvements in business processes, which in turn cause improvements in customer satisfaction and subsequently cause improvements in sales and the financial measurements of profitability.

Again in the customer category, one of the objectives of the storefront employees is to improve the customer experience. The measures that would be used to evaluate the success of these initiatives as well as their specific targets are detailed.

What Are Strategic Objectives?

As the management system is cascaded down through the organization, objectives become more operational and tactical, as do the performance measures. Accountability follows the objectives and measures, as ownership is defined at each level. This alignment step is critical to becoming a strategy-focused organization.

As one example, disappointing financial measures sometimes occur because companies don’t follow up their operational improvements with another round of actions. Managers should be prepared to either put the excess capacity to work or else get rid of it.