Templates, frameworks, standards, and business systems are what give businesses powerful methods for constant growth! Experts can pack all the knowledge they have about a subject and give it out in the form of a simple, easy to follow scheme. An idea that is expressed in simple words with a ready-to-use template is as powerful as a several hundred page book or even more. For example, 7-S concept that I was writing before, was invented more than 30 years ago, but a clear and simple diagram (and alliteration in the case) allowed the concept to survive in the toolkits of executives today.
In the case of the Balanced Scorecard templates are a little bit more complicated, as the key idea about this concept is not in diagrams or simple measures. In this article I’ll explain how the Balanced Scorecard approach can be represented in the form of a template and how to use this template to translate strategy into action.
Internet is clogged with irrelevant BSC templates
Unfortunately, the information provided under the label “Balanced Scorecard Template” is irrelevant in most cases. It might be KPI, some Excel-based reporting or a measurement system, but not a Balanced Scorecard. Let me show you some typical misleading examples.
With a Balanced Scorecard things are not so easy, as there are certain pitfalls. For example, a diagram with four perspectives that appears in Internet search results is actually an old version of the Balanced Scorecard strategy map, which could be used… well, it’s better not to use it as it is not telling any story, other than a story of an existence of 4 perspectives and their interconnection. It is not possible to track Balanced Scorecard cause-and-effect ideas using this type of diagram.
Another approach is to provide graphical templates that are worth using only on the presentation stages of the Balanced Scorecard. When your goal is to prepare a nice-looking presentation, then some ready-to-use PowerPoint templates could be helpful. If you are doing a Balanced Scorecard from scratch for your company, forget about this type of template.
Templates in MS Excel
Well, these nice-looking spreadsheets in MS Excel are templates, but templates for the Key Performance Indicators, not for the Balanced Scorecard. It is a simple misuse of the “Balanced Scorecard” term. As was discussed before, KPIs are only a part of the Balanced Scorecard. KPIs are responsible for measurement, but the main purpose of the Balanced Scorecard is to provide business performance management and help to execute a strategy.
Templates with benchmarks
Another template product that you can find with Google is KPIs and benchmarks packed together, authors call this a Balanced Scorecard, but actually it is something different. It’s some kind of measurement system based on benchmarks, but again, it has nothing to do with the Balanced Scorecard, nor is a template for it.
Normally these packs give you some measures copied from a long list of standard KPIs with some benchmark numbers. Unfortunately, for most KPIs this approach doesn’t work. To illustrate this, I was specifically focusing on “Time To Hire” KPI in the latest article; this KPI is one of the most popular, but unfortunately, one of the less useful.
I hope the classification of Balanced Scorecard templates described above makes sense. So far we have discussed some negative examples, e.g. what the Balanced Scorecard template is not. Now, I’d like to review in details a positive example, e.g. what an actual Balanced Scorecard template is and how one could start a Balanced Scorecard project using it.