To have a balanced view of their performance and assess their effectiveness, companies need to look at both financial and non-financial measures, along with their short- and long-term goals. One of the best ways to do this is by using a balanced scorecard, which needs to be regularly tracked with the help of an appropriate tool.
Since there is a variety of related options out there, choosing the right fit for your organization can be a real challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we have put together a list of selection criteria and the best 5 examples on the market.
Why Are Balanced Scorecards Important?
When it comes to defining what optimal business performance means and determining whether a company’s management is achieving the desired results, nothing works better than a balanced scorecard.
Translating an organization’s mission and values into a comprehensive set of actionable steps set to propel it into success, a balanced scorecard acts as an effective strategy planning and management framework.
To successfully build and implement a balanced scorecard, managers need to:
- Articulate the business’s vision and strategy;
- Identify the performance categories that best link a company’s strategic plans and various internal functions to their external outcomes;
- Outline objectives that support the company’s vision and strategy;
- Develop relevant standards to be observed in order to accomplish short-term and long-term milestones;
- Ensure enterprise-wide acceptance of the measures;
- Collect and analyze performance data and compare actual results with desired thresholds;
- Create appropriate budgeting, tracking and communication systems;
- Take corrective action to close unfavorable gaps.
Once a balanced scorecard is created, it is generally used to:
- Update, clarify and enhance a company’s strategy;
- Correlate strategic objectives with long-term targets and annual budgets;
- Track the essential elements of the business strategy;
- Incorporate strategic measures into the process of allocating resources;
- Usher and facilitate organizational change;
- Compare performance of geographically diverse business units;
- Increase the understanding of the corporate vision and strategy at a company-wide level.
Given the many important purposes that a balanced scorecard can serve, it is critical for companies to regularly monitor and update it. By doing so, they can benefit from a constant feedback mechanism that lays down a clear direction towards achieving their goals. To get the best results, using a dedicated application to manage your balanced scorecard is recommended.
How to Choose the Best Balanced Scorecard Software for Your Organization
To decide which balanced scorecard option is the most appropriate for your business, the following attributes may serve as useful selection criteria:
- Easy to use – you don’t want to settle for software that is too complicated for your team to use as it can result in frustration and poor results. A good scorecard application should be easy to learn and manage, intuitive, and coming with clear guidelines on how to operate it. Training and how-to support materials are a bonus.
- Easy to customize – each organization has its own unique goals and strategies and, as a result, there are different balanced scorecards that can be used for different profiles. Hence, you should go for a system that allows customization to meet your specific needs. Software solutions that come with a free trial are preferable because you can thus run a test before purchasing and determine whether it is a good investment or not.
- Strategy map features – a quality balanced scorecard tool can create strategy maps of your BSC from different perspectives. It should let the user perform various tasks (adding logos, drawing arrows between objectives, moving and resizing objects on the graphic).
- Visualization of organizational structure – your BSC-specific program should include powerful visualizations of organizational structure and strategy to allow you to communicate the relationship between the organization’s key performance indicators and objectives.
- Dashboards – with dashboards, users can see the big picture at a glance, add live data in the form of images, graphs and text, monitor their critical data and drill down for more details on performance trends.
- Annotation, attachments, and collaboration – these features will allow users to engage in discussions on certain items and make the information available from the different visualizations.
- Reporting features – a good BSC tool should be able to generate figures, charts and relevant analysis so you can get both qualitative and quantitative reports for your company.
- Export capabilities – the system of your choice should allow you to export data into a clear and organized manner (either in Excel, PowerPoint or .pdf format).
- Automation and integration – many organizations want to adopt a BSC platform mainly to save time and efforts. Thus, look for software with features that can speed up processes (such as easy data entry and upload) and which integrates with other programs in place within your company.
- Access rights – ensure that your system is able to limit the users’ access based on their rights and responsibilities so they can focus only on what they are supposed to view and work on.
Let’s now take a closer look at each of these balanced scorecard tools.
Powered by In-Chip and Stack technologies, Sisense enables even the most non-technical users to access data and build interactive dashboards and business intelligence reports. Providing a single, out-of-the-box interface to process and visualize large sets of variables without IT resources, it simplifies business analysis for complex data. You can use its drag-and-drop feature, one-click formulas and diverse range of dashboard widgets (geographical maps, line charts, scatter plots, gauges and pie charts) to measure KPIs, determine trends, highlight correlations, compare and pinpoint the best representation of your input.
- Joining data from multiple sources;
- Drag & drop joining of multiple data sources;
- Creation and sharing of interactive dashboards;
- Capability to query data in real time;
- Offers a wide range of deployment options;
- Access right control;
- Demo available;
- Custom pricing based on your business’s profile.
Available as both a desktop add-in (Office Timeline) and online application (Office Timeline Online), it is a user-friendly, ready-to-use tool that helps users to create a variety of strategy management visuals as presentation-ready, native PowerPoint slides. Featuring a diverse gallery of pre-designed templates, an intuitive drag&drop interface and smart layout engine that automatically generates representations of your data, the software is ideal for non-technical users.
- Easy data import functionality and pre-built templates to set you up faster;
- Rich data management and customization functionalities (task/milestone creation and assigning capabilities, shapes, colors, percentage complete and status indicators for progress tracking, same-row and swimlane grouping of activities);
- Integration with Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet and Wrike;
- Flexible export capabilities (as Excel files, PowerPoint slides and PNG images);
- Share & Collaboration functionality and data access rights option to allow multi-party editing on the same visual with no need for registration;
- Fully-functional freemium model for both versions (desktop add-in users limited to 10 rows of data; visuals generated with the web-based app being watermarked if the 10-row limit is exceeded);
- Price: the Office Timeline Online paid plan costs $59/year; the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in Pro edition costs $99/year with a 14-day free trial available as well.
Providing a business management platform that includes all the core elements related to a BSC and which adapts to the user’s unique business model, Corporater empowers medium and large companies to assess, manage and continuously improve their performance. With functions and capabilities that allow you to link multiple management disciplines (compliance, strategy, risk, operations, finance, HR and others), Corporater’s interface lets you create custom management solutions for strategy, KPIs, performance and business dashboards.
- Balanced scorecard and XPP model;
- Easy-to-use strategy map designer;
- Perspectives and strategic objectives components;
- Cascading of strategy and alignment;
- Data source integrations;
- Goal management functions;
- Progress tracking features;
- Pricing quote on request.
ClearPoint is a strategy execution tool that lets professionals easily manage objectives, measures, initiatives and action items in one place. Its users are able to create and customize a single scorecard or multiple cascading scorecards, as well as to automatically generate and distribute a variety of reports. With features to link and align goals and KPIs and to integrate data from different sources, ClearPoint makes it simple for you to execute on your strategic plan.
- Scorecard and dashboard creation, updating and customization options;
- Data integration from multiple sources;
- Automation engine;
- Reporting capabilities;
- Notification system;
- Objective, initiative, measure and action item management functions;
- On-page editing;
- Integrated help and tooltips;
- Demo available on request;
- Prices ranging from $250/month (Basic Plan) to $800/month (Professional Plan).
QuickScore is a flexible cloud-based strategy and KPI management tool that allows companies, organizations and government agencies to user their own strategic model, whether that is the BSC, the Ansoff Matrix, the Strategic Horizons or an in-house strategic process. Officially recommended by the Balanced Scorecard Institute, it automates your BSC once you enter your perspectives, objectives and measures.
- Automatically generated scorecards and strategy maps based on data entry;
- Color-coded customization and update options for objectives, initiatives, KPIs;
- Live dashboard sharing with non-registered parties;
- Linked actions and cascading scorecards;
- Goal tracking function;
- Drill-down capabilities;
- Search widget and alerts system;
- Product tour available and live demo offered upon appointment;
- Price: $95/month per user (payable quarterly or annually; one month free for the latter payment plan).
Effectively creating and managing your balanced scorecard heavily depends on the software that you use for this particular purpose. We hope that the options outlined in this blog post will guide you towards choosing the most suitable solution for you.
Balanced Scorecard Software Overview
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