I often am amazed when I find out how advanced we are at EXPE with regards to our Scorecard program — Over the course of the last 2 years, I have presented at a handful of conferences, including CFO, CIO magazines, ICPQ Quality, and BSCOL, where multiple people would approach me afterwards to ask me how they can mirror our work.
Well, let me start by saying that it has taken us almost 3 years to work through the issues that come when any company deploys a brand new quality program or measurement system — Often, you’ll have integrity issues with the data requiring ETL or transformation/cleansing of the data, something that often is hidden within disparate databases, silo’ed across your company. Next, you have the problem of ‘jumping into the weeds’ too soon Vis a vie the overexcitement that comes with having clean data ready to extract and publish in a balanced scorecard format. I find that people, when presented with the option of what data should constitute their most important performance indicators or KPIs for their scorecard, will act as if it is a ‘Chinese Menu’ and try to order 1 of everything, thus bogging down the scorecard with too much information. While anyone who reads my blogs know how I feel about business metaphors like ‘jump into the weeds’, it is apropos to mention at this point that ‘staying at the 30,000 or 60,000 foot view’ for as long as you possibly can is critical. I recommend not having the project manager or program manager who will eventually maintain the ongoing balanced scorecard from an administrative perspective be involved with the strategic decision making with regards to determining relevant and strategic KPIs that cover all 4 perspectives outlined by Kaplan and Norton’s balanced scorecard methodology. And, you do not have to launch out of the gate with the perfect version of your scorecard with all 4 perspectives included. At EXPE, we started with the VOC, or Voice of the Customer, perspective, followed by our finance perspective, internal voice (i.e. your employees)/learning and development. While we weren’t truly balanced when we launched nor were our KPIs perfect from the get-go, we took the next 3 years to manually create and iterate on the scorecards while we went across the company on a ‘road show’ to build support and executive buy-in to our program. This is the next piece that is critical for any quality program to be successful. As Fred Reichheld talks in ‘Good to Great’ and ‘Built to Last’, what is the point of quality if it isn’t tied to the bottom line? Quality for the sake of quality is a slippery slope (oops…another metaphor), often causing companies financial pain if they go with guns blazing into any new quality program without first understanding how the VOC impacts the top and bottom lines.
Being the solutions oriented person I am, at this point, I would be asking ‘this is all great – – But how exactly do you tie VOC with the strategic vision of your company’?
Answer: it’s not easy…and while I may sound redundant, it took us 3 years before we A) got tied into the strategic planning process, B) got the entire company engaged and enthused by the methodology all leading up to my 3rd point, C) even thought about automating the process.
After 3 years, we finally automated as part of the early adopters program for Microsoft’s BSM product (code named Maestro during the beta program) — For a fraction of the cost of Cognos or Business Objects, other software vendors who offer scorecard modules, Microsoft developed a flexible and user-friendly tool for connecting to multiple different data sources and data types (i.e. relational (SQL/Oracle), multidimensional or cube data (i.e. Analysis Services) or even flat file and manual entry. No matter how technical your company or you are, you can use the software to help you.
But I stress…Do you automate at the same time as you build your program, even if your executive sponsor or boss approves buying the software ahead of time. If you do not have both executive buy-in and company wide adoption of your scorecard program, you will end up with a ‘cool tool that people find interesting’ that over time, becomes less and less important to the stakeholders, especially if you see a lot of turnover or mergers/acquisitions within your org. In the end, in order to be a truly balanced view, it must roll all the way up to the top of the food-chain; you will know you have achieved nirvana when CEO level planning and executing strat-planning is based on KPIs measured on your Scorecard. There is no one view that everyone must look at: CEO’s will want a company/brand/lines of business overall view; but would a call center agent find that useful? Not so much. They care about their AHT and adherence to schedule, so their view would be very different. But it is all very do-able with MS’s Business Scorecard Manager (or BSM) product.
For reference, check out BSCOL or Balanced Scorecard Collaborative (bscol.org) — They have a great website full of information, as well as having cunning conferences during the year that bring together the minds of some of the leading experts in the scorecard space, including the father’s of the methodology, Norton and Kaplan (my personal heroes)!