7 Hints for a Successful Balanced Scorecard Launch

If you are interested in implementing the Balanced Scorecard or any framework that will help you manage your strategy with measures (or metrics or KPIs) and strategic initiatives, then I urge you to visit the ClearPoint Strategy blog where you can read a story based on an interview with me and my client at the United Nations Federal Credit Union.

The blog article breaks our Balanced Scorecard (BSC) implementation down into 7 hints to help ensure success:

  1. You can use your current strategy or create one while you are beginning the BSC project
  2. Get buy-in from senior leadership right away
  3. Emphasize strategic alignment throughout the organization
  4. Keep your measures simple at first
  5. Tying in your incentive plan will aid alignment and buy-in
  6. You can never communicate too much
  7. The right software can really help manage multiple scorecards

The first thing to remember is that the Balanced Scorecard is just a helpful framework.  You don’t have to be a slave to it, but rather, bend it to your needs.  Therefore, you can start to use it if you already have a strategy in place—just adapt it to the BSC format—or you can develop your strategy as the first step in implementing the BSC.

Buy-In of Senior Leadership Is Critical

Of course, the success of any important initiative in any organization is largely dependent on the support and buy-in of senior leadership.  Make sure you have that before you get started.  They have to believe in the BSC so that they can ensure staff throughout the organization will believe in it.

This leads to the next hint—emphasize strategic alignment throughout your organization.  While senior leadership may develop the strategy—hopefully with the help of staff—it will be implemented by everyone across the organization.  Therefore, you need to make sure everyone understands how they align to and contribute to the strategy.

With regard to identifying strategic measures, keep it simple at first.  When an organization first begins to implement the BSC, it doesn’t need to have all of the perfect measures in place.  Find ones that are pretty good and you will grow into better ones as your organization becomes more comfortable with the BSC.

Want Everyone’s Attention? Tie In the Incentive Plan

I cannot emphasize Hint #6 enough—if you want to get people paying attention to your Balanced Scorecard program, tie it to their incentive bonuses.  While this may not be for everyone, and some organizations can pull it off more quickly than others, people won’t ignore you if their bonus is on the line.

Another key aspect for successful implementation that often is given short shrift is communication.  You must communicate about the program as much as possible and in as many ways as possible.  It may seem to you that you are over-communicating, but you aren’t because not everyone receives every communication.

Finally, if you are developing more than just one enterprise scorecard—UNFCU created 13—using software designed to manage scorecards is a must.  Just using Excel and PowerPoint will be unmanageable.