Creating a Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is one of the best strategic moves an organization of any size can make. If you’re beginning to look into scorecarding for your organization, you’re likely toying around with creating your first Balanced Scorecard in Excel. This is a great, cost-effective option for many companies that are just getting started with a BSC.
Below, we’ll point out your best options for Balanced Scorecard management, describe when you should create a Balanced Scorecard in Excel, and explain how you can get started as soon as possible.
Choices For Balanced Scorecard Creation & Management
Before deciding what medium you want to use to create your Balanced Scorecard, you need to look at all your options. The most typical options are to purchase scorecarding software, build your own software or scorecarding solution, or use Excel or PowerPoint. Each option has it’s benefits and drawbacks—let’s examine each:
Software: One of the most important questions to keep in mind when looking for reporting software is whether the benefits will outweigh the costs. Purchasing software that can provide a positive ROI is a must—and achieving a great return on investment is an attainable goal. Also, keep in mind that there are certain things you should demand from your reporting software vendor, like excellent support and great customer service. All in all, software helps organizations that are more mature in their management processes.
Build Your Own: There are a lot of considerations that need to be examined if you’re considering building a scorecard solution. You need to examine:
- Whether you have the adequate support to maintain the software.
- If you have the time and resources to build out the necessary features.
- If you’re accounting for all the expenses that building your own solution can incur.
- If your team can handle the implementation and upkeep process.
- What your “exit strategy” is if things don’t work out as planned.
(All of these important questions are answered in this in-depth article: Should You Build Or Buy Management Reporting Software?)
Excel & PowerPoint: There are three types of companies that can benefit from creating and managing their Balanced Scorecard in Excel:
- Very small firms. While this definition varies, we’re talking specifically about organizations who net less than a million dollars a year. If this is true of your organization, Excel is a good place to be.
- Pilot projects. If you are looking to show a “proof of concept,” or demonstrate that the Balanced Scorecard is still relevant and can benefit your organization, Excel is the best place to start.
- Companies that are transitioning. If your business is transitioning from one system to the next, or if you’re just getting your scorecard up and running and have a lot of changes to make, an Excel Balanced Scorecard may be the ticket.
As we mentioned previously, Excel is often lauded as being a cost-saving option. But beware that there are a few hidden costs associated with Excel reporting that you should keep in mind before creating your scorecard.
So, while it can work for the aforementioned three situations, it’s important to note that creating a Balanced Scorecard in Excel can go wrong when a lot of people get involved or if the scorecard becomes complex. It’s imperative that you only have a single author so your team stays on the same version of the scorecard. If this doesn’t happen—and you have many people making changes at the same time—you can end up creating a costly nightmare.
Getting Started With The Balanced Scorecard
Nine out of 10 organizations fail to execute strategy. That’s a big deal! So, it’s much more important to create a mediocre (or even bad) strategy that gets executed on than it is to create a great strategy without any execution whatsoever. So before you decide where you want to manage your scorecard, it’s important to understand the processes you’ll need to go through as an organization to create one.
This 41-Page Strategy Execution Toolkit is a great resource to get you started. It’ll help you understand how to define and identify your measures and initiatives, and walk you through the process of creating a purpose statement, change agenda, and strategy map. If you want to learn more about what a good Balanced Scorecard should look like, take a look at this exhaustive Balanced Scorecard example. I’ll walk you through definitions for scorecarding shop talk and explain exactly how you can read a completed scorecard.
Get Started With Your Excel Balanced Scorecard
By now, you’ve likely determined whether or not an Excel scorecard is ideal for your company. If you’re interested in going forward with creating your scorecard in Excel, we’re here to make that process easier. We’ve outlined a simple, one-page, “fill in the blank” style template for your scorecarding needs. It comes complete with instructions and cautions, so you fill out and manage your Balanced Scorecard correctly the first go-around. Click the link below and get started now.