Any search for business scorecards will bring up the balanced scorecard. However for many small businesses, the methodology may seem a little overwhelming and not particularly practical for a business with just a few employees. That’s why I advocate a simple balanced scorecard alternative to get you up and running with performance tracking.
When I came on board at our e-commerce business, it was clear that, other than the fact that sales seemed to be growing, there was a lot we didn’t know about how the business was doing. So, one of the first things I did was implement a balanced scorecard alternative – essentially a weekly reporting of major metrics – and a weekly review meeting.
A year and a half later, the scorecard is now one of our most valuable management tools, allowing us to identify issues in advance of them becoming crisis and solve them as a team. Over time this has created a momentum that has transformed the way we run the business, helping us to move from a reactive approach to proactively planning our growth.
Here’s a step by step of how you can get started with a business scorecard – including a free template to work from:
1) Define accountability.
Before you create a scorecard, you need to know who is responsible for what. This means creating an organizational or departmental structure with clear accountability. (See the post: How to create an Organizational chart for your small business). Once that’s done, you can assign the accountability for specific measurable results to specific people.
2) Choose accountability items.
Pick at least 5 – 10 items that are most critical to tracking the success of the business.
Here is a quick laundry list of potential items to get you started:
- Total Sales during the period by channel. Examples from our e-commerce business are:
- Sales YTD
- Sales Growth – YOY or whatever your baseline is
- Website Visitors
- New leads / Clients
- Value of term invoices
- Bank balance
- Value of Overdue Invoices
- Value of returns/replacement items
- Unbudgeted Expenses
3) Open an Excel or Google Sheet and list the items down the far left column.
Leave a row at the top where you will insert weekly dates. Here is an example template that you can work from
4) Schedule a regular meeting time to review the business scorecard.
Schedule a time that you will meet every week (or month – though I recommend weekly) with your executive or departmental team for 60-90 minutes. You need to make this meeting sacrosanct, so insure you pick a time when everyone will consistently be available. The only reason for missing this should be vacation or death.
5) Create a standard agenda for the meeting.
Here is what ours looks like:
- Positive Focus (10 Mins) – each attendee shares wins and accomplishments for the past week
- Scorecard review (10 Mins) – review the scorecard and note any issues on an issues list
- Quarterly Goals Review (10 mins) – review each person’s quarterly goals and note any issues
- To Do reviews: Review To DO items assigned at previous meetings and note any incompletes as issues
- Issues Review: Review and resolve as many issues as you can during the remaining time and note any to-do’s on the do sheet.
6) Run the meetings without fail.
Run strict meetings that start and end on time while conforming to your agenda. This will go a long way to insuring the meetings stay relevant and effective.
Conclusion: a Simple Balanced Scorecard alternative.
There are 3 main components to running an effective scorecard:
- Keeping the scorecard updated
- Meeting on a regular schedule (ideally weekly) to review results
- Noting and addressing any issues that the scorecard raises
While we took a little while to gain momentum, implementing this simple balanced scorecard alternative has introduced a new discipline around accountability and insures that we have a reliable structure for identifying and solving issues before they get out of hand and threaten the overall business.