After the Balanced Scorecard has been in use for a few years, what's the best way to refresh it? Strategies change, measures change, so how often should the scorecard change?

asked Apr 07 '10 at 13:03

Dylan's gravatar image

Dylan ♦♦

For Balanced Scorecards used for strategic purposes, you want to do three things to keep it fresh:

  1. Build it in such a way that the users are comfortable to make changes as they go. From month to month (or quarter to quarter) as they learn from using the Balanced Scorecard and try and implement it (getting final measures and targets set for example) it is quite likely that they will want to adjust the design. Having to call in 'experts' to do this is simply and obstacle to doing this, and much better to have a simple design they understand, and let them make the changes themselves.
  2. Synchronise a periodic review of the Balanced Scorecard to other organisational processes (such as budgeting) These often run on an annual cycle, and regardless of when you finish your Balanced Scorecard design, it makes sense to 'reset' at least the key numerical elements of the Balanced Scorecard concurrent with changes in budgets etc. This is sensible also, because any projects / programmes linked to your Balanced Scorecard probably rely on the budget system / planning system etc. to have the resources needed to be executed.
  3. Have a review session looking at Balanced Scorecard design after 18 months By then many of the actions on your Balanced Scorecard will hopefully be completed, and need updating with new actions. Also, by then the management team will have had six or more review meetings using the Balanced Scorecard and so be better placed to comment on what works / what needs changing.

We've been building Balanced Scorecards for organisations for over a decade, and we're beginning to see a longer five-year cycle emerging from our clients, where after five years they come back and ask us to 'rebuild' their Balanced Scorecard. This makes sense, as best-practice design methods (see: "What is a “state of the art” Balanced Scorecard design?") suggest you focus about five years out when creating a Balanced Scorecard... but always reassuring to see it work in practice as well as in theory.


answered Apr 21 '10 at 09:47

Gavin%20Lawrie's gravatar image

Gavin Lawrie

Of course, all of the above are right. Basically there is no answer at the back of the book, but here is what we have learned, in addition to the previous answers; 1) all scorecards need a periodic review in order to catch the small day-to-day shifts that go unnoticed (like watching paint dry). The time period for these periodic reviews depends on the drum-beat of your company. one of our clients manufacture Scotch - with a manufacturing cycle time of about 25 years, they do not feel the need for frequent updates. on the other hand Fedex-Kinkos needs to update theirs' monthly... their 'drum-beat' is much faster. 2) an macro event (internal or external) should trigger a review... but wait until the after-shocks have passed. 3) when ever you are about to make a major strategic play (e.g acquire a significant sector player)

Typically reviews fit into one of four categories: Change the priorities (weightings), linkages (arrows), the Strategic Objectives (bubbles) or the metrics. each of these is used to deal with a different issue. I have a couple of webinars on this on YouTube.

answered Jul 07 '10 at 02:07

Brett%20Knowles's gravatar image

Brett Knowles

I agree with Gavin, and he has some great points about ways to keep it fresh. We also see organizations taking a structured approach to the way they review their strategy.

  1. Monthly Reviews - In a monthly review, the leadership team takes a deep dive into part of their strategy, maybe a theme or a particular perspective. They can have a rich discussion on the performance of objectives, measures, and initiatives related to part of their scorecard.

    1. Quarterly Reviews - Here you want to look at your entire scorecard, and spend time focusing on challenges or issues. You can address questions related to resource deployment, and look at re-balancing your initiatives so that you are spending money in the right areas. You also have the opportunity to look at any short-term changes to the business environment that might affect your strategy.

    2. Annual Review - Here you want to spend time with the leadership team asking questions about whether your strategic objectives still apply and whether you should be changing your measures or targets. If you align this with your budgeting process as Gavin suggested, you can use this time to look at new initiatives and what programs you will use to execute your strategy.

It was heading into one of these annual meetings that a company I was working with realized that they had "completed" several of their objectives and that their scorecard represented what they had accomplished rather than what they wanted to accomplish. That is a good sign that you need to refresh your strategy map and underlying measures.

answered May 05 '10 at 12:26

Ted%20Jackson's gravatar image

Ted Jackson

The flip answer would be as often as it needs to. I would not set a definite period for change, but would rather periodically evaluate whether it should be changed based on changes in objectives, strategies, measures, etc. The periodicity of this review would depend on how dynamic your business context is. If it's constantly changing, you may want to look every quarter, whereas if it's relatively stable, you may go a year or more before evaluating. Just remember you want to look often enough to make sure the scorecard doesn't get stale, and stop being of use in guiding decisions.

answered Apr 08 '10 at 11:25

Jim%20Kubeck's gravatar image

Jim Kubeck

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