Users of BSC Designer share their thoughts about using the product to support:
- Strategy description,
- Implementation, and
BSC Designer Ensures Strategy Implementation
I am a strategy consultant for blue-chip private sector clients, as well as public sector clients throughout Africa, the Middle East and North America. I utilize the Balanced Scorecard to ensure that clients implement their carefully crafted strategies.
We live in an age where data needs to be turned into information which needs to be turned into knowledge and ultimately business intelligence (strategic wisdom).
There are numerous Balanced Scorecard software packages around and I have reviewed many of them. I totally enjoy the BSC Designer as it has extensive functionality that provides an easy-to-use and visual method for allocating and viewing all of the key elements required for managing the Balanced Scorecard. Furthermore, it allows you to create excellent dashboards and reports which are crucial in rapidly being able to identify your areas of poor to great performance.
I highly recommend BSC Designer to any company or consultant that uses the Balanced Scorecard methodology to ensure strategy implementation and monitoring.
A note from developers:
Thank you very much for your feedback. It is very important for us that our BSC Designer is recognized not only by business executives, but by professional strategy consultants. If someone recommends your software to others, such as to his clients, it’s a sign that we are on the right track in our development.
I would like to continue discussing your thoughts about data, information, knowledge and business intelligence. We also live in an age where people experience information overload. Seeing many ads per day enables our information filters; the same happens when an executive see another chart or dashboard. When there is only key information on the dashboard, then it works very well. Anyone would agree that a dashboard should contain information, not data. What’s the difference? I believe that the difference is in the context. When executives have a KPI and it is not aligned with any business objective or action plan, then I would say that he deals with data, not information. KPIs need to have a business context.
Another thought about a classical dashboard is based on the experience of our users. A classical dashboard is fine for operational management, but sometimes executives need to have a big picture of what’s going on, and a dashboard doesn’t help a lot in this case as it is not clearly aligned with a business objectives. To solve this problem, in the latest version of BSC Designer we have improved the strategy map. Now BSC Designer displays KPIs that are aligned with a business objective on the strategy map. That gives an executive a good big-picture view. When details are needed, a user can switch to KPIs or the Dashboard tab for more information.
Describe the strategy for the next 3-5 years
Wojtek Kwiatkowski from SONEL S.A., POLAND shares companies plans on implementing Balanced Scorecard Software.
I work for company Sonel – a manufacturer of high-quality measuring instruments for power generation and telecommunications sectors. The meters are used to measure:
- Fault loop resistance and impedance;
- Insulation resistance;
- Earth resistance and soil resistivity;
- Residual current protections;
- Current, voltageВ.
At the moment the company is working on the strategy for the next 3-5 years. We have chosen the BSC as the method of building the strategy and naturally are looking for the software or solution which can give us a better control over the preparation, implementation and further monitoring of the strategy itself.
We think BSC Designer might be the solution we need – it focuses first of all on business indicators which describe the process. It is quite an easy software to learn, however we miss here the presentation of goals that can be easily understood by our employees. It is by far the powerful tool to work on strategy but to present and communicate the issue to the people we need anyway to use a separate software. Maybe a full e-learning course could explain how to use the software fully.
Implement, Monitor and Control Strategy in a Business Unit
I’m using BSC Designer for an implementation of the Balanced Scorecard.
Masoud, Strategy Implementation Specialist
I’m evaluating BSC Designer as a product to implement, monitor and control strategy in a business unit. Also I’d like it to be web-based system that can be used in several parts of organization through the web, as well as the real time system is preferred for our company.
A note from the developers
Masoud, thank you for sharing your current progress about the BSC Designer implementation. I’m glad to let you know that there is a web-based version as well. It is available at WebBSC.com. And actually you don’t have to migrate there 100%. You can combine the usage of the BSC Designer desktop version, as well as BSC Designer Online.
Talking about strategy monitoring and control, I would recommend following these steps:
- Design a Norton&Kaplan Balanced Scorecard. You will need to map your ideas about your company’s strategy.
- The first goal is to design a high level strategy map with business objectives and key measures (KPIs);
- Once you have this map and it is tested, you can cascade it to the lower levels;
- On the lower levels your business scorecard will evolve from top level goals and KPIs to the department-specific objectives and measures.
- When you have the whole cascade, you can start using the actual scorecard
- Departments and top management will be able to use this business scorecard for further discussions about strategy, business objectives and the best way to achieve them.
- On a quarterly or monthly basis you can plan a performance review, when department managers will be able to report their metrics to the top level scorecard.
- Aggregated data can be then presented to the top managers and stakeholders. In this way they will be able to track the progress towards specified business goals.
Needless to say, the BSC Designer will support you on all of these steps. Those who already have experience with these steps could share some additional thoughts in the comments.
Implement and Execute Strategy with BSC Designer
I started using BSC Designer and find it the most appropriate tool to implement and execute the strategy of our new born company: it is simple, effective, and easy to use. I think that cascading this system to the different levels of the company will show the maximum benefit of the software and will ensure alignment. I am sure that improvements in company’s goals will be achieved using this system.
Sherif Haddara , The Vice Chairman CEO of
Ruhrpumpen Egypt (American Petroleum Institute Pump manufacture company located in Suez Egypt)
A note from developers:
Thank you for choosing BSC Designer as a main software tool to support your strategy. As you know in BSC Designer the Balanced Scorecard framework is supported so that in recent studies it confirmed its high value in the tool box of executives worldwide.
Also, we are trying to improve the software according to the latest requests and use cases with our customers. For example, according to your feedback you see the main role of BSC Designer as helping you achieve specific business objectives. What happens when your objective is achieved and the progress indicator is now at 100%? The next logical step is to keep an eye on performance of certain indicators. That’s where the task of performance management is converted into the performance measurement. We were talking about the difference in this article.
You have the right idea about cascading. Ideally, each department should have its own strategy map. BSC Designer supports this approach. The general scheme would be to create a separate BSC project for each department and then import some important indicators to the main scorecard.
Another note is about alignment. You mentioned that ensuring alignment is one of your priorities. As an expert in business performance I find that the term “alignment” is misused by many business writers. Alignment is anything from a simple list of items to tree-structure of dependent elements. In BSC Designer we support alignment of action plans, KPIs and business goals and here how it looks like in the practice.
BSC Designer Helped Me Define Strategy
BSC Designer helped me to define strategy that I used to improve my business: understanding the way I should serve my clients and how I have to direct my efforts.
Ivan Rivera, Project Manager, PMP
Despite the complex concepts behind the BSC, BSC Designer is an intuitive tool that can lead the user step-by-step from the definition of KPIs to shaping their strategic map. The wizard is a friendly tool, the tutorials are easy to understand all of its facilities and features help to shape useful and powerful software.
A note from developers
Thank you for your feedback! BSC Designer in this sense is just a type of automation software that allows business professionals to formulate their strategies, measures and actions. On our website you can find articles about various business frameworks that can be used to plan and execute strategy. A business can choose appropriate framework according to its goals. The Balanced Scorecard framework in this sense is a universal one.
Talking about the BSC process… The classical approach suggests starting with business objectives first and then moving to KPIs. For sure there are some cases where business people have to start with KPIs. In BSC Designer we promote the approach where KPIs are developed in a business context formed by business objectives and where KPIs are aligned with specific action plans.
But we don’t force using this exact approach. One can focus on KPIs only or come up with a series of maps that will help you to see the big picture.
The BSC Wizard that you mentioned helps you to follow the BSC approach starting with business objectives and suggesting KPIs. As an alternative that we recommend one can use a Balanced Scorecard template that you will see when starting a BSC Designer file. There are some blank KPIs and business objectives that one can customize according to his or her needs.
Turning Words in Action with the Balanced Scorecard
We are using Balanced Scorecard, dashboards and KPIs for consulting, training and educations for latam companies.
The planning process does not end when the company decides what strategy or strategies to follow. One must transform the strategy into action. This translation is much simpler if managers and employees understand the business, feels part of the company, and through the involvement in the formulation of it, it helps the company to be successful.
Deployments affect the organization from the top to the bottom, and impact on all areas, functional and divisional. The implementation phase is the key. However, it’s easier to say than to do.
Implement the strategy is the act of turning words in action. It is the ability to manage people and resources to achieve the objectives outlined above. This step is so important that, even though, an excellent strategy had been made, poor implementation could put you at risk.
The techniques and control systems are essentially the same, either to control production processes, administrative procedures, quality of a product or other. The faster deviations are detected, more easily and cheaply and corrective actions can be taken. That is why the importance of measuring, from the beginning, any type of process is necessary.
Planning and control are increasingly treated as an interrelated system. Performance is, theoretically, a multidimensional variable that expresses the degree of success or failure of an entity in relation to another or, itself at an earlier time.
The wider and more comprehensive set of performance indicators show the better part of the process of monitoring and control the business, and consequently, have a better capacity to respond to the challenges of a competitive environment. The BSC is the answer to it.
- Management needs measurements. In order to measure, it must be quantified, and hence, the importance of the Scorecards.
- It’s much better to evaluate the organization’s performance from other perspectives beyond the financial ones. It has its benefits.
- Those perspectives should be balanced. Balanced between financial and non-financial indicators, between the short and long term.
- BSC Designer offers all of those benefits, and is a suitable software tool that facilitates the construction of reports and professional presentations turns management into a practice of excellence.
Electronic Engineer, Universidad Tecnológica Nacional, Argentina.
Professor in Strategic Management at Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 20 years in tech companies.
A note from BSC Designer business performance experts
Thank you a lot for sharing such a detailed report. You formulated the essence of the strategy execution problem. Not strategy planning, but strategy execution is what causes the most problem for companies. Even well-formulated strategy can fail due to poor execution. An execution in its turn depends a lot on how good the ideas about strategy are translated from top levels down to lower levels of company. That’s probably one of the major challenge that the Balanced Scorecard business framework addresses.
A lot of articles on the Internet inspired by BSC tell that the strategy should be balanced, but what does this statement actually mean?
- First, other perspectives should be taken into account. If a company thinks only about finance, then it will be losing its focus from what value it is supposed to deliver to its customer.
- Second, business objectives within those perspectives should not be a standalone business items, they should be linked to each other. That gives the big picture of what’s happening in the business.
Performance monitoring vs progress tracking
In your report you described in details the process of performance monitoring, its importance cannot be overestimated, if something goes wrong and a company knows about this promptly, then a lot of possible problems can be avoided.
Having performance monitoring is great when the strategy of a company is to keep doing what they are doing. When it comes to an innovative strategy, then we are talking about progress tracking. Company’s KPIs won’t track in this case something that we already know well, instead result-oriented KPIs should be used. We were talking about this in an article on BSC Designer.
By the way, this is another side of “balance,” when the BSC includes not only KPIs for monitoring, but KPIs for progress tracking.
Another question that is actual for many companies is about the correct number of KPIs. Some say that there should be just few KPIs, other suggest to take a long list of KPIs and use it. The problem with long lists is that they don’t work. It is really hard to update and keep an eye on many KPIs. The better approach that we have discussed is to start with business goals and objectives first and then come up with KPIs that will monitor the performance or track the progress towards company-specific objectives. In this way the increase of the number of KPIs is natural and KPIs will serve you much better.
Easy and Rapid Design of Balanced Scorecard
I do appreciate finding this product on the market as it helps me to design in an easy and rapid manner some BSC for client. The balanced scorecard tree and the strategy map are designed very quickly; the product is able to merge several indicators under categories and to develop a multi-level BSC.
Targets, weights and stop lights are flexible and the predefined representations are very expressive for my clients. At the end, the reports are automated and the import/export functions give me a lot of ways to proceed.
I do particularly like the export to html that gives me the opportunity to publish reports on Intranet sites. BSC Designer is a simple and powerful tool that responds exactly to my demand.
BSC Designer helped me to design some prototypes for clients even if I have developed my own system for BSC and reports over Excel
A note from developers
Sylvie, I thank you for sharing your feedback. It’s nice to see that performance management experts like you appreciate the software and find it easy to use.
When we started designing a first version of BSC Designer back in 2004, we realized that there was already some professional BSC software on the market, but all of them were too complicated, even for experts. Needless to say that top managers use tools like this just because they are obligated. Another type of software was one with drawing tools, with no actual BSC automation. Taking all of these facts into account, top managers and business performance experts had to use some tools that were not really suitable for the Balanced Scorecard. I saw BSC designed in MS Excel or even in MS PowerPoint. Nice attempt, but with these tools top managers are focusing on drawing, not on managing. I hope that BSC Designer in this sense has helped a lot, being that it is an easy to use and user-friendly program.
In your feedback you mentioned multilevel KPIs. That’s really a useful feature. One more thing is that not only KPIs can be multilevel. BSC projects can actually be multilevel as well. In the Balanced Scorecard this process is called cascading and for sure, BSC Designer supports it.
Also, you told us that you were using reports to share valuable BSC information with your clients. The most popular are HTML, Excel and PowerPoint reports. Talking about reports, BSC Designer can help you to automate a process as well. A report can be generated and uploaded directly to the FTP server of your client. In this way you can just give out a link to the report without a need to exchange emails and report files.