The balanced scorecard suggests that we view the organisation from 4 perspectives, and to develop metrics, collect data and analyse it relative to each of these perspectives:
• The Learning and Growth Perspective
• The Business Process Perspective
• The Customer Perspective
• The Financial Perspective
The Learning and Growth Perspective
This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. In a knowledge-worker organisation, people — the only repository of knowledge – are the main resource. In the current climate of rapid technological change, it is becoming necessary for knowledge workers to be in a continuous learning mode. Government agencies often find themselves unable to hire new technical workers, and at the same time there is a decline in training of existing employees. This is a leading indicator of ‘brain drain’ that must be reversed. Metrics can be put into place to guide managers in focusing training funds where they can help the most. In any case, learning and growth constitute the essential foundation for success of any knowledge-worker organisation.
Kaplan and Norton emphasize that ‘learning’ is more than ‘training’; it also includes things like mentors and tutors within the organisation, as well as that ease of communication among workers that allows them to readily get help on a problem when it is needed. It also includes technological tools; what the Baldrige criteria call “high performance work systems.”
The Business Process Perspective
This perspective refers to internal business processes. Metrics based on this perspective allow the managers to know how well their business is running, and whether its products and services conform to customer requirements (the mission). These metrics have to be carefully designed by those who know these processes most intimately; with our unique missions these are not something that can be developed by outside consultants.
In addition to the strategic management process, two kinds of business processes may be identified: a) mission-oriented processes, and b) support processes. Mission-oriented processes are the special functions of government offices, and many unique problems are encountered in these processes. The support processes are more repetitive in nature, and hence easier to measure and benchmark using generic metrics.
The Customer Perspective
Recent management philosophy has shown an increasing realisation of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. These are leading indicators: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance from this perspective is thus a leading indicator of future decline, even though the current financial picture may look good.
In developing metrics for satisfaction, customers should be analysed in terms of kinds of customers and the kinds of processes for which we are providing a product or service to those customer groups.
The Financial Perspective
Kaplan and Norton do not disregard the traditional need for financial data. Timely and accurate funding data will always be a priority, and managers will do whatever necessary to provide it. In fact, often there is more than enough handling and processing of financial data. With the implementation of a corporate database, it is hoped that more of the processing can be centralized and automated. But the point is that the current emphasis on financials leads to the “unbalanced” situation with regard to other perspectives.
There is perhaps a need to include additional financial-related data, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit data, in this category.
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