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By : Mirza A Baig, Manager HR
Activity:  3 comments  1272 views  last activity : 07 06 2010 20:18:04 +0000



A Balanced Scorecard defines what management means by "performance" and measures whether management is achieving desired results. The Balanced Scorecard translates Mission and Vision Statements into a comprehensive set of objectives and performance measures that can be quantified and appraised. These measures typically include the following categories of performance:

  • Financial performance (revenues, earnings, return on capital, cash flow);
  • Customer value performance (market share, customer satisfaction measures, customer loyalty);
  • Internal business process performance (productivity rates, quality measures, timeliness);
  • Innovation performance (percent of revenue from new products, employee suggestions, rate of improvement index);
  • Employee performance (morale, knowledge, turnover, use of best demonstrated practices).


To construct and implement a Balanced Scorecard, managers should:

  • Articulate the business’s vision and strategy;
  • Identify the performance categories that best link the business’s vision and strategy to its results (e.g., financial performance, operations, innovation, employee performance);
  • Establish objectives that support the business’s vision and strategy;
  • Develop effective measures and meaningful standards, establishing both short-term milestones and long-term targets;
  • Ensure company-wide acceptance of the measures;
  • Create appropriate budgeting, tracking, communication, and reward systems;
  • Collect and analyze performance data and compare actual results with desired performance;
  • Take action to close unfavorable gaps.

Common uses

A Balanced Scorecard is used to:

  • Clarify or update a business’s strategy;
  • Link strategic objectives to long-term targets and annual budgets;
  • Track the key elements of the business strategy;
  • Incorporate strategic objectives into resource allocation processes;
  • Facilitate organizational change;
  • Compare performance of geographically diverse business units;
  • Increase company-wide understanding of the corporate vision and strategy.

Related Bain capabilities

Selected References

Epstein, Marc, and Jean-François Manzoni. "Implementing Corporate Strategy: From Tableaux de Bord to Balanced Scorecards." European Management Journal , April 1998, pp. 190-203.

"Harvard Business Review Balanced Scorecard Report." Harvard Business Review , 2002 to present (bimonthly).

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action. Harvard Business School Press , 1996.

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. “Having Trouble with Your Strategy? Then Map It.” Harvard Business Review , September/October 2000, pp. 167-176.

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. “Measuring the Strategic Readiness of Intangible Assets.” Harvard Business Review , February 2004, pp. 52-63.

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment. Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes. Harvard Business School Press , 2004.

Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton. "Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System." Harvard Business Review , January/February 1996, pp. 75-85.

Niven, Paul. Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results. John Wiley & Sons, 2002.





What gets measured gets done: developing a HR scorecard*

By Nicholas Higgins who can be contacted at


1. Introduction

There is increasing interest in measuring HR and initial efforts have made use of a HR scorecard to provide a framework within which to measure. However, experience of HR scorecard implementation has been mixed. In this article we provide insights into the reasons why, and outline several key steps that must be undertaken for HR measurement to be effective.

Traditionally, HR functions have struggled with appropriate and meaningful measures to quantify their value, or that of the people engaged within the business. The emergence of the HR scorecard concept has tried to address this point, taking its core design from the established balanced scorecard measurement framework applied in businesses. In short, the balanced scorecard is essentially a framework that attempts to collate measures across four areas: financial, internal process, customer and (people) learning, and growth rather than just the traditional financial measures (hence the term ‘balanced’).

2. How to approach a HR scorecard

Rather than immediately compiling a list of HR measurables that are easy to quantify, it is worth taking a step back and thinking through a checklist of points to address.


First of all, one needs to understand the reason for developing a scorecard. For example, does a wider corporate scorecard necessitate this implementation be spun-off? Or the requirement of operating metrics on a newly established HR shared service centre? Is it a means of prioritising and reporting an existing collection of HR metrics? Or, a result of the new ERP software providing a range of HR analytics?

Asking these questions focuses on the type of measures required, from basic data to operating efficiency measures through to corporate value-based metrics – each perspective having a different focus.

It is not unusual to find that there is potentially more than one layer of metrics. A common error is to try and package all relevant measures in one scorecard, rather than a pyramid-layered structure. The HR scorecard – metrics hierarchy consists of:

# Values based HR metrics linked to corporate based metrics that reflect value-based measures

# HR outcome measures that focus on business outcomes

# Operational HR metrics that focus on efficiencies

# HR analytics that focus on workforce data


Having understood the context of the HR scorecard rationale it is important to recognise the business context within which HR operates by asking questions such as:

# What are the value drivers of the business (units)?

# What is HR’s value proposition to the business?

# Where are HR’s biggest value points?

# Where is HR’s contribution recognised – by senior management, the line, employees, HR itself and/or investors?

# What does the HR function currently measure?

# Are the metrics activity driven or value driven?

# What human capital metrics are included in the general business reporting?

These questions will define the relevance of certain measures in terms of impact before the next step of defining HR value.


Unfortunately most current HR metric examples are operational in nature (efficiency metrics) and are of limited or no value.

In contrast, deriving HR metrics that relate to outcomes or contribute to value creation are of much more significance. HR value (or contribution to) can be seen and ultimately measured from three different perspectives:

# The value of the HR function to the business as a whole

# The value of HR processes as practised throughout the organisation, for example, performance management, and its fit with core fundamentals, such as culture, structure, strategy and so on

# The quantification of people value to the organisation, and their input to strategic decision-making.

However, jumping from efficiency metrics to value-based metrics in one leap can be too much and thus a progressive move over time may be the optimum solution.


This is potentially the most difficult step in terms of mapping the touch points – those where HR involvement or intervention has impact on business performance. This map provides the base for constructing a hierarchical link of HR metrics with business metrics (financial/process/customer).


This step is unfortunately the one in which most scorecard enthusiasts begin! The trick here is to construct a set of relevant metrics that meet with the initial rationale for the HR scorecard design. The outcome of this stage should result in some form of draft scorecard framework.


The scorecard is an organic design – one that changes with the business. Thus this step is most important in continually updating and reviewing the scorecard framework, ensuring that it continues to report relevant metrics and discontinuing those metrics that are no longer required. This is sometimes the hardest task.

Following the steps outlined above, whilst by no means definitive, will at least ensure a HR scorecard design that will be relevant to the business rather than reflective of a loose collection of HR metrics.


PART 2: Measuring HR effectiveness - HR scorecard design


In part 1 of this article we considered why organisations might wish to develop a HR scorecard and the steps to be followed in HR scorecard design. In this article, we turn the theory into practice through a case study. Recently, a client asked us (Watson Wyatt) to run a one-day workshop with a senior HR team to help them develop their HR scorecard. We structured the workshop around five key areas:


The team considered two influences on HR effectiveness:

# External influences - the company's current operating environment

# Internal influences - how the business perceives HR's capability.

This provided an understanding of what type and "depth" of metrics framework would be possible and palatable.


The company’s HR strategy already included a number of qualitative objectives in the following areas – resourcing, performance management, training and development, reward, employee relations, career development and organisation development. This gave us a good initial steer for the areas where measurement is required.


This session established certain ground rules about the types of metrics that could or should be reported. The team generated an initial list of potential metrics, which, although comprehensive, focused too heavily on data rather than knowledge-based measures. This is a common flaw in companies’ HR reporting – see the panel on Metrics for more detail.

By considering which HR metrics would provide a valuable measure for the business, the team was able to create a more balanced list.


As a starting point, the team considered the standard four-box scorecard design of Financial, Process, Internal Customer Focus, and People/Human Capital Management

It was recognised that this should be adapted to meet the company’s specific requirements. Figure 1 below shows the five measurement dimensions that emerged.

The ‘Human Capital interventions’ box was included to address the potential confusion between ongoing reporting metrics (such as sickness absence) and one-off project reporting around specific human capital interventions, for example the introduction of a new appraisal process. The ‘Employer brand’ dimension evolved to meet a gap identified during the following session.


Using the output from sessions 3 and 4, the team began to populate the scorecard with a number of metrics. A number of iterations were required to get to a final agreed version.

Significantly, no one in the team would have acknowledged at the beginning of the day that ‘employer brand’ would be a core measurement area. However, it became evident during this session that a number of brand-related metrics were populating the other boxes. This led to the decision to construct andemployer brand’ cluster, to replace the original ‘process’ cluster. This highlighted the value of an iterative process and demonstrates that there is no ‘one size fits all’ – a HR scorecard design is context-specific and must reflect the company’s needs.


Figure 1 - Final agreed scorecard



At the end of a very full day, the HR team was satisfied that it had achieved a workable scorecard design, which had direct relevance to the business and provided them with a much clearer line of sight for HR performance reporting.

It also became clear during the day that some of the stated HR objectives needed to be reassessed – a task the team has taken away with them.

The next step is to ascribe targets to each of the selected metrics.


One of the problems for HR is that there is an almost limitless choice of HR metrics, the vast majority of which are meaningless outside the HR function but easy to report.

Experience shows that many scorecards include a large percentage of metrics reporting data – facts or numbers without context, for example ‘training days delivered’. Almost all of the remaining metrics fall into the ‘information’ category, which is an improvement on data but still limited in terms of business value, for example, ‘training days delivered per employee’.

The real aim for HR is to produce a scorecard that contains more knowledge-based metrics that report value or contribution type information. For example, ‘training spend per employee per annum, with a five year trend’. Although still lacking a value connection, this metric at least supplies the business with useful knowledge regarding training in the organisation.


Balanced Scorecard Articles

Chow, Chee W., Kamal M. Haddad, and James E. Williamson, "Applying the Balanced Scorecard to Small Companies", Management Accounting, August 1997, p. 21.

Curtis, Carey C. and Lynn W. Ellis, "Balanced   Scorecard For New Product Development", Journal of Cost Management, May/June 1997 Vol. 11, No. 3

Drucker, Peter F., "The Theory of Business", Harvard Business Review, Sep.-Oct. 1994, p. 95.

Epstein, Mark J. and Jean-Francois Manzoni, "The Balanaced Scorecard and Tableau De Bord: Translating Strategy into Action", Management Accounting, August 1997, p. 28.

Gaiss, Michael, "Enterprise Performance Management", Management Accounting, December 1998, p. 44.

Hoffecker, John & Charles Goldenberg, "Using Balanced Scorecard to Develop Companywide Performance Measures", Journal Cost Management, Warren, Gorham, & Lamont, Vol 8, No. 3, Fall, 1994

Kaplan, Robert S. and David P. Norton, "Why Does Business Need A Balanced Scorecard (Part 2)", Journal of Strategic Performance Measurement, Jun/Jul 1997 Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 5.

Kaplan, Robert and David Norton, " Why Does Business Need A Balanced Scorecard", Journal of Cost Management, May/June 1997 Vol 11, No. 3

Kaplan, Robert S. and David P. Norton, "Why Does Business Need A Balanced Scorecard", Journal of Strategic Performance Measurement, Feb/Mar 1997 Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 5.

Kaplan, Robert and David Norton, "The Balanced Scorecard--Measures That Drive Performance", Harvard Business Review, January-February 1992, p. 71.

Kaplan, Robert and David Norton, "Using the Balanced Scorecard As a Strategic Management System", Harvard Business Review, January-February 1996, p. 75

Kaplan, Robert and David Norton, Putting the Balanced Scorecard to Work, Harvard Business Review, September-Oct. 1993, p. 134.

Maisel, Larry , "Performance Measurement: The Balanced Scorecard Approach", Journal Of Cost Management, Warren, Gorham, & Lamont, Volume 6, No. 2, Summer, 1992, p. 47.

Porter, Michael E., "What is Strategy"What is Strategy", Harvard Business Review, Nov.-Dec. 1996, p. 61

Schneiderman, Arthur, "Why Balanced Scorecards Fail", Strategic Performance Measurement, January 1999, Special Edition

Silk, Scott, "Automating the Balanced Scorecard", Management Accounting, May 1998, p. 38.

Thomson, Jeff and Steve Varley, "Developing A Balanced Scorecard at AT&T", Journal of Strategic Performance Measurement, Aug/Sep 1997 Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 14.


 Top Comment : Dayanand Deshpande   | 04 16 2009 10:36:17 +0000
Hi , Balanced scorecard is very important and it should be implemented because it increase focus on strategy and results, improves organizational performance by measuring what matters. aligns organization strategy with the work people do on a day-to-day basis, it focuses on the drivers of future performance, improves communication of the organization’s Vision and Strategy and Prioritize Projects or Initiatives.... Thank YOU
3 comments on "Balanced Scorecard"
  Commented by  Sethu, Practice Director, eXample Consulting Group    | 03 08 2010 17:38:47 +0000
For those looking to acquire Balanced Scorecard skills, the following link may be useful.
  Commented by  Dayanand Deshpande, Senior Consultant, Ernst & Young    | 04 16 2009 10:36:17 +0000
Rating : +1 
Hi , Balanced scorecard is very important and it should be implemented because it increase focus on strategy and results, improves organizational performance by measuring what matters. aligns organization strategy with the work people do on a day-to-day basis, it focuses on the drivers of future performance, improves communication of the organization’s Vision and Strategy and Prioritize Projects or Initiatives....
Thank YOU
  Commented by  Nilesh Roy, Service Delivery Manager - IT Infrastructure    | 06 17 2008 21:01:30 +0000
Rating : +2 
Nilesh Roy was here & would like to thank you for sharing this article. 
Add your comment on "Balanced Scorecard"

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