Process and duration
Organizations decide to implement a Balanced Scorecard from various reasons. Most of the time the actions of implementing a Balanced Scorecard are not directed towards building a new management system, but more towards improving or streamlining particular components of the management process (Kaplan and Norton, 1996). Among the forces that drive the initial implementation of the Balanced Scorecard performance management system in companies, the most important ones identified by Kaplan and Norton (1996) are: to obtain clarity and consensus about strategy, achieve focus, leadership development, strategic intervention, set strategic targets, align programs and investments or build a feedback system.
No matter of the reasons, the process of Balanced Scorecard implementation does not appear instantaneously. According with the size of the organization and the project scope, complexity and impact, the implementation of a performance management system based on Balanced Scorecard can have different implementation time schedules. It can be very rapid, up to two –four weeks, or as long as a year and in some cases even two.
Rohm (2005) considers that depending on the size of the organization two up to four moths is typical, but shorter periods of time, up to only 6 weeks are possible for a Balanced Scorecard implementation. The researcher identified several drivers that can facilitate a shorter BSC implementation: senior leadership support, continuous commitment, size of the organization, availability of scorecard team members, willingness to embrace the new system, or facilitation support.
According with Chow et al (1997), the design and implementation process for installing a Balanced Scorecard may take two years or more. This view is supported by Kaplan and Norton (1996), who describe a Balanced Scorecard implementation process, over a two years calendar. However it must be noted that the Balanced Scorecard implementation was designed for a complex organization, with several managerial layers and business units.
The two years Balanced Scorecard implementation period consisted of an initial design phase of the Balanced Scorecard system and its implementation in a business unit. It was then followed by several other stages, during which the Balanced Scorecard was rolled up in the entire organization. The implementation was concluded once the Balanced Scorecard was adopted by all organizational levels, from the strategic level up to the individual level.
On the other hand Cobbold and Lawrie (2004) describe the implementation of a Balanced Scorecard project for a Saudi Arabian company over a three months period. However the project includes only the design phase of the BSC. During this period all elements of a third generation balanced scorecard were shaped: a destination statement, a strategic linkage model based on a strategy map, a list of measures with corresponding targets and a portfolio of initiatives. Three types of activities were acknowledged to have occurred during the Balanced Scorecard design.
- The consultant team worked to better understand the current position of the company and the starting viewpoints of various members of the management team
- The management team met to built consensus around a common strategic direction which was articulated in the Destination statement
- During a series of workshops consensus was established round the appropriate objectives, measures, targets and initiatives that were consequently documented in the rest of the supporting Balanced Scorecard templates
In one of the research reports prepared for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Mackay (2005), describes a 17 step Balanced Scorecard implementation process, over a period of 5 months. While documenting the implementation process main steps, the author acknowledges that the BSC implementation steps described can be only indicative for the time requirements. The actual requirements as well as the time dedicated for their accomplished will be dictated by the weight given by the organization’s leaders to the Balanced Scorecard implementation process.
- Kaplan, R. & David, N. (1996), The Balanced Scorecard: translating strategy into action, Harvard Business Scholl Press, Boston, MA.
- Rohm, H. (2005), A balancing act, Perform Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp 1-8.
- Chow, C., Haddad, K. & Williamson, J. (1997), Applying the Balanced Scorecard to small companies, Management Accounting, 1997.
- Cobbold, I. & Lawrie, G. (2004), Designing a strategic management system using the third generation balanced scorecard. A case study, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53, No. 7, pp. 624-633.
- Mackay, A. (2005), A practitioner’s guide to the Balanced Scorecard, Research Report, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).