Preparing to Build Your Balanced Scorecard, Features, Benefits, Limitations

08/05/2020 1 By indiafreenotes

Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic planning and management system that organizations use to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organizational performance against strategic goals. It was originated by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton in the early 1990s 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.

Building a Balanced Scorecard is a detailed and nuanced process that requires careful planning, execution, and maintenance. It involves understanding the organization’s strategic direction, engaging leadership, developing a multidisciplinary team, defining strategic objectives, and setting measurable targets. Through this process, the Balanced Scorecard becomes a living document that guides strategic execution, facilitates communication, and drives performance improvement. By following the steps outlined above and remaining aware of potential challenges, organizations can successfully implement a Balanced Scorecard to transform their strategic vision into operational reality, ensuring sustained strategic success.

Understanding the Balanced Scorecard

The 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.

This system divides the Business Environment into Four perspectives:

  1. Financial Perspective

The Financial Perspective focuses on the financial objectives of an organization and allows managers to track financial success and shareholder value. This perspective answers the question, “How do we look to our shareholders?” Key performance indicators (KPIs) in this perspective typically include measures such as return on investment (ROI), economic value added (EVA), revenues, profits, cost reduction, and cash flow. The goal is to provide a clear view of whether the company’s strategy, implementation, and execution are contributing to bottom-line improvement.

  1. Customer Perspective

This perspective emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction and measures the company’s performance from the viewpoint of its customers. It answers the question, “How do customers see us?” KPIs under the customer perspective include customer satisfaction scores, customer retention rates, new customer acquisition, customer loyalty, and market and account share in target segments. The focus is on creating and maintaining value for the customer, which is considered a leading indicator of future financial performance.

  1. Internal Process Perspective

The Internal Process Perspective looks at the internal operational goals of the organization and focuses on the critical operations that enable the organization to satisfy customer and shareholder expectations. This perspective answers the question, “What must we excel at?” It involves identifying and measuring the key processes that drive business success, focusing on areas such as process efficiency, throughput, quality, and delivery performance. KPIs might include measures of process efficiency, cycle times, quality levels, and productivity.

  1. Learning and Growth Perspective

Also known as the Innovation and Growth Perspective, this dimension focuses on the intangible drivers of future success—employee capabilities, information system capabilities, and the organization’s climate for action. It answers the question, “Can we continue to improve and create value?” This perspective emphasizes the role of organizational culture, employee training and development, knowledge management, and the ability to innovate and adapt to changes in the business environment. KPIs might include employee satisfaction, employee retention, skill sets, the availability of critical information, and the effectiveness of information systems.

Balanced Scorecard Features:

  • Strategic Alignment:

Integrates and aligns business activities with the vision and strategy of the organization.

  • Holistic View:

Provides a comprehensive view of the business by incorporating financial and non-financial measures across multiple perspectives.

  • Performance Measurement:

Goes beyond traditional financial metrics to include measures of performance in areas that are critical for future success, such as customer satisfaction, internal processes, and learning and growth.

  • Management Tool:

Serves as a management system for strategic decision-making and focusing the entire organization on what’s important.

  • Communication Tool:

Facilitates communication and understanding of business goals and strategies at all levels of the organization.

  • Feedback and Learning:

Encourages feedback and continuous improvement by tracking progress against strategic targets and facilitating strategy adjustment in response to changes in performance.


  • Step 1: Establish a Vision for the Initiative

Before embarking on the development of a Balanced Scorecard, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the organization’s vision and strategic objectives. This vision will guide the entire process, ensuring that the Balanced Scorecard aligns with the overarching goals of the organization.

  • Step 2: Secure Executive Sponsorship

For the Balanced Scorecard to be successful, it must have strong support from the top management. Executive sponsorship provides the necessary authority and resources for the initiative and helps in overcoming resistance to change within the organization.

  • Step 3: Create a Balanced Scorecard Team

Assemble a cross-functional team that represents all major areas of your organization. This team will lead the development and implementation of the Balanced Scorecard. The team should include individuals with strategic insight, operational expertise, and financial acumen to ensure a comprehensive approach.

  • Step 4: Conduct a Strategic Review

A thorough review of the organization’s strategic documents (mission, vision, strategic plans, etc.) is essential. This helps in reaffirming the strategic objectives that the Balanced Scorecard will support. Understanding the current strategic objectives and performance measures is critical for developing a Balanced Scorecard that truly reflects the organization’s strategy.

  • Step 5: Define Strategic Objectives

With a clear understanding of the organization’s vision and strategy, the next step is to define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) strategic objectives for each of the four perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard.

  • Step 6: Develop Strategic Measures and Targets

For each strategic objective, develop metrics that will be used to measure performance. These should be a mix of leading and lagging indicators that provide insights into both current performance and future trends. Alongside each measure, set realistic yet challenging targets.

  • Step 7: Identify Strategic Initiatives

Once you have your measures and targets in place, identify the strategic initiatives or actions that need to be taken to achieve the targets. These initiatives should be directly linked to the strategic objectives and measures.

  • Step 8: Build the Scorecard

With strategic objectives, measures, targets, and initiatives defined, you can now build the Balanced Scorecard. This involves creating a framework that visually represents the strategy and how the objectives, measures, targets, and initiatives interconnect across the four perspectives.

  • Step 9: Validate and Refine

Present the draft Balanced Scorecard to stakeholders (including leadership and employees) for feedback. Use this feedback to refine and improve the Scorecard. Validation ensures that the Scorecard accurately reflects the strategic priorities and is understood by all.

  • Step 10: Implement the Balanced Scorecard

The implementation involves integrating the Balanced Scorecard into the organization’s management processes. This includes setting up reporting systems, aligning organizational and individual goals with the Scorecard, and ensuring that resources are allocated to strategic initiatives.

  • Step 11: Training and Communication

To ensure the successful adoption of the Balanced Scorecard, it is vital to conduct comprehensive training and communication across the organization. Everyone should understand how the Scorecard works, its relevance to their role, and how it will be used to measure and guide performance.

  • Step 12: Monitor, Review, and Adapt

The Balanced Scorecard is not a set-and-forget tool; it requires ongoing monitoring and review. Regularly review the Scorecard to assess performance against targets, learn from the outcomes, and make necessary adjustments to strategies, objectives, and targets.

Challenges and Solutions

Implementing a Balanced Scorecard is not without challenges. These can include resistance to change, difficulties in selecting the right metrics, and ensuring data accuracy. To overcome these challenges, organizations should focus on strong leadership, clear communication, ongoing education, and the flexibility to adjust the Scorecard as necessary.

Build Your Balanced Scorecard Benefits:

Strategic Alignment

  • Aligns Activities with Strategy:

The BSC helps ensure that the day-to-day activities of the organization are aligned with its strategic objectives. This alignment ensures that all efforts are directed towards achieving the long-term goals of the company.

  • Clarifies Strategy:

By breaking down strategic objectives into specific, measurable goals across different perspectives, the BSC clarifies the strategy, making it easier for employees at all levels to understand and engage with it.

Improved Performance Measurement

  • Balanced Perspective:

The BSC provides a more balanced view of organizational performance by including financial and non-financial metrics. This holistic approach helps organizations focus on long-term success and sustainability.

  • Enables Performance Analysis:

By tracking performance against predefined targets, the BSC allows organizations to analyze where they are succeeding and where they need improvement, enabling more informed decision-making.

Enhanced Communication and Focus

  • Improves Internal and External Communications:

The BSC facilitates clearer communication of the organization’s strategy both internally and externally. It helps ensure that all stakeholders, including employees, management, and external partners, have a consistent understanding of the organization’s strategic goals.

  • Focuses Efforts on Strategic Priorities

 By making strategic objectives clear and measurable, the BSC helps employees understand how their work contributes to the company’s strategic goals, focusing their efforts on activities that are most impactful.

Better Strategic Planning

  • Facilitates Strategic Review and Learning:

The BSC framework encourages regular strategic review meetings to assess performance, discuss strategic initiatives, and adapt plans based on results and changing conditions. This iterative process fosters organizational learning and agility.

  • Supports Strategy Refinement:

Continuous monitoring and analysis of performance data help organizations refine their strategies based on empirical evidence, ensuring that strategic plans evolve with changing market conditions and internal capabilities.

Enhanced Organizational Growth and Learning

  • Promotes Learning and Growth:

The learning and growth perspective of the BSC emphasizes the importance of employee development, organizational culture, and the capacity to innovate. By focusing on these areas, organizations can improve their adaptability, innovation, and competitiveness.

  • Encourages a Forward-Looking Approach:

By incorporating leading indicators into the scorecard, organizations can focus not only on past performance but also on future potential, encouraging a proactive rather than reactive approach to management.

Improved Resource Allocation

  • Optimizes Resource Allocation:

With clear strategic priorities and performance metrics, organizations can make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources for maximum strategic impact.

  • Links Budgets with Strategy:

The BSC helps align budgeting and financial planning with strategic priorities, ensuring that financial resources are allocated to support the achievement of strategic objectives.

Enhanced Stakeholder Satisfaction

  • Improves Customer and Stakeholder Satisfaction:

By incorporating the customer perspective, the BSC ensures that strategies are aligned with customer expectations and needs, leading to improved customer satisfaction. Similarly, understanding and addressing the needs of other stakeholders enhances overall stakeholder satisfaction.

Build Your Balanced Scorecard Challenges:

  1. Lack of Understanding or Commitment

Without a clear understanding of the BSC’s purpose and benefits, there may be a lack of commitment from leadership and staff. This can hinder the effective implementation and utilization of the BSC.

  1. Misalignment with Strategy

The BSC must be closely aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives. Misalignment can lead to efforts that do not support the overarching goals of the organization.

  1. Resistance to Change

Implementing a BSC often requires changes in culture, processes, and systems. Resistance from employees, who are accustomed to traditional ways of working, can impede progress.

  1. Overemphasis on Financial Metrics

Organizations might struggle to move beyond financial metrics to include non-financial measures that are equally important for long-term success.

  1. Difficulty in Selecting Appropriate Measures

Identifying the right metrics that accurately reflect the performance and health of the organization can be challenging.

  1. Data Collection and Analysis

Collecting and analyzing data for the chosen metrics can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Additionally, ensuring data accuracy and integrity can be difficult.

  1. Creating Overly Complex Scorecards

There is a risk of creating a BSC that is too detailed and complex, making it difficult to use effectively for strategic management.

  1. Failure to Integrate with Other Management Systems

The BSC should not operate in isolation but needs to be integrated with other management systems and processes within the organization.

  1. Lack of Continuous Review and Adaptation

Failing to regularly review and update the BSC can lead to it becoming outdated and irrelevant.

  1. Insufficient Communication

Inadequate communication about the progress and results of the BSC can lead to disengagement and skepticism among stakeholders.