Business scorecards are often referred to as dashboards because they focus on the key information you need to drive your operation and, ultimately, your business. Like an automobile dashboard, the business version should be readily available, up to date and relevant, clearly show what’s happening at a glance, and include only the key information required to drive the business. Scorecards are also very useful in measuring long term business trends, and can provide valuable information for making strategic decisions. Metrics are invaluable in determining root cause when things go off the rails as well.
When developing a balanced scorecard for your business, keep in mind that the fewer the metrics the better. You should also avoid looking at data from a short time frame. Establish metrics based on long term trends and measure against these targets, always mindful of the fact that on any given day a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances can skew the metrics from the long-term norms. And before developing the scorecard first ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s important to my customer?
- What’s important to the business (internal stakeholders) besides what’s important to the customer?
- Which metrics will give me an accurate picture of how well we are doing with regards to numbers 1 and 2 above, and will they really measure the key drivers of my operation?
- Where will I get the data, how much will collecting it cost in terms of time and money, and how quickly can I collect it?
- How accurate is the data?
- How will I interpret the resulting metrics?
In putting together a scorecard you should also be aware of these three major potential pitfalls..
- The metrics chosen don’t measure what’s important to the customer, the business or both. Many businesses opt for ‘this is the data I can get easily’ and develop metrics they feel are a proxy for measuring the key drivers. The guiding principle should always be ‘what do I want to measure’. Then go find the data and metrics that best measure that.
- The scorecard is not balanced. You get what you measure, and if your scorecard is unbalanced, focussing for example on speed and not on accuracy, you may very well end up doing more harm than good
- There are too many metrics, something that could be costly in terms of data collection and analysis time, could very well lead to confusion, and will not provide any more insight than a carefully chosen, smaller set of key metrics.
The balanced scorecard can be a very powerful management tool to ensure you are taking care of all your stakeholders. Make certain when establishing the metrics that make up the dashboard to ensure that you are measuring the right things, in the right way, at a minimum cost in terms of time and money, and that you’re interpreting the results correctly to drive improvements in customer satisfaction and business success. The wrong metrics or lack of balance often result in sub-optimal performance, and time and money lost fixing the wrong problems, driving your business off track.