Initiatives management

 

One of the most important components of the Balanced Scorecard strategic performance management system is the identification, prioritization, definition and management of strategic initiatives. (Dennis Barnhart and Assoc., 2008).

 

Once the strategic objectives are identified and aligned with the strategy, and performance indicators and improvement targets are set for those objectives, the strategic initiatives or projects that help realize the targets and ultimately the organizational strategy must be identified and managed.

 

As initiatives can vary according with their importance, organizations must identify and prioritize initiatives based on their strategic impact (Niven, 2002). Usually, as there will be numerous initiatives competing for limited funding a streamlined initiative prioritization process must be set in place, backed up by a well defined initiative management system.

 

The process of identification, prioritization, definition, selection and approval of initiatives must be incorporated in the planning process. Several steps must be followed in order to document and manage the strategic initiatives reporting and management process:

  • A staged approach to initiatives selection should be taken
  • Single senior leader ownership should be assigned for each initiative
  • Change control processes to deal with changes and revisions have to be defined
  • A well defined reporting process needs to be set in place
  • Communication channels of the initiatives progress and updates must be identified
  • A feedback and improvement process for the initiatives must be developed and continuously nurtured (Dennis Barnhart and Assoc., 2008)

 

According with Kaplan and Norton (2005) the identification and prioritization of initiatives is a process that takes place annually during the planning stages. However, due to the fact that new initiatives may arise at any given time, and the Balanced Scorecard strategic performance management system is based on a continuous process of improvement and strategic realignment, the portfolio of initiatives should be assessed and reprioritized several times annually.

 

Office of Strategy Management

One way the strategic initiatives can be managed and kept aligned with the organizational performance management and strategic requirements is through the Office of Strategy Management (OSM). The Office of Strategy Management is a unit, established at the corporate level with the purpose to oversee all strategy related activities. According with Kaplan and Norton (2005), the OSM should manage initiatives that cross units and functional lines. For all the other initiatives that are linked to a specific functional area or business units, the scholars acknowledge that practice shows they are best managed separately. For these particular projects, the OSM should intervene only when an initiative falls behind schedule, is over budget or is not delivering expected results.

 

An example of how the OSM facilitates the initiatives management process is documented by Winkler (2006), who describes the roles of the OSM at Suzano Petroquimica coporation (hal of fame winner). According with Winkler (2006), the company created an innovative investment matrix in order to manage its initiatives based on 11 scorecard objectives. Each year during the planning process, the company managers rank their initiatives against each of the scorecard objectives on a scale of 0 to 3. Each ranking is then multiplied by a weighting assigned to each measure on a scale of 0 to 5 and finally by adding them up a total score is produced. The rankings are communicated throughout entire organizations, helping to depoliticize the funding of initiatives and facilitating the evaluation of initiatives on their strategic merit alone.

 

Activity Management

Another way to manage the portfolio of initiatives is through Activity Management. According with Fluin and Peters (2007), Activity Management completes the strategic cycle by providing a thorough tracking system for all activities and initiatives that needs to be enacted. Once the initiatives are identified, Activity Management meets the requirements of monitoring those initiatives through to completion by:

  • Assisting keeping the organizational performance in line
  • Providing a transparent, structured and organized method for analyzing strategies
  • Realigning focus and allowing the strategic objectives of the organization to be met in an effective and efficient manner (Fluin and Peters, 2007)

 

Ultimately, the Activity Management System allows seeing the progress of each activity from start to finish, keeping all projects on track and facilitating the understanding of how the initiatives impacted the overall performance of the organization.

 

References

  • Dennis Barnhart and Assoc. (2008), Effective Strategic initiative (SI) Management: A must for a world class performing organization, presented in April, 2008.
  • Fluin, G. & Peters, S. (2007), Ming the Gap: Using Activity Management to Complete the Performance Management Puzzle, Perform Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 1-4.
  • Kaplan, S. & Norton, D. (2005), The Office of Strategy Management, Harvard Business Review, pp. 72-80, October, 2005.
  • Niven, P. (2002), Balanced Scorecard step by step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining results, Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.
  • Winkler, C. (2006), Anatomy of an early OSM Adoption: Suzano Petroquimica’s Office of Strategy Management,Balanced Scorecard Report, available at: http://www.mercadantewalkerconsulting.com/pdf/Anatomy_of_an_Early_OSM_Adoption.pdf

BSC system : Usage

 

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