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Developing a Balanced Strategy

In previous blogs, we shared strategic thoughts regarding committing to analytics and the importance of continuous monitoring and adjustment in achieving your institution’s goals. We also explored the benefits of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as we broke them down into result and driver metrics. In that same blog, we introduced the idea of adopting a structured methodology, like the Balanced Scorecard, to align goals and metrics among multiple internal and external perspectives.

Pyramid assembled and disassembledContinuing with our Higher Education example, we previously identified 4 perspectives or quadrants to capture initiatives: Student / Alumni; Organization; Financials; and, Systems / Processes. Now, let’s imagine that an institution has the goal to increase student retention rates. In order to achieve this goal, the institution should collaboratively launch initiatives with the overarching goal in mind. These initiatives are big projects or groups of projects that power the result and drivers metrics. Increasing retention rates might have the following metrics and initiatives:

External Perspective: Student/Alumni Internal Perspective: Learning Organization
  • Metric: Increase Retention Rates by 10% over the next 5 years.
  • Initiative: Implement CRM-Student Success system by June 2015.
  • Define driver metrics within CRM-system.
  • Report monthly on results.
  • Training Metric: Train all Faculty and support staff on new CRM-Student Success system by June 2015.
  • Initiative Project: Survey Students to evaluate performance of Faculties and support staff in the use of the systems to support student success.
Financial Perspective: Processes/Systems Perspective: Business and IT
  • Metrics: Revenues are increased by 10% over the next 5 years thru increased retention rates
  • Initiative: Capture driver metrics to verify results.
  • Metric: Process Effectiveness and Efficiency.
  • Initiative: CRM-Student Success system supports integrated Student Self and Faculty self service.
  • Data metrics are captured and tools implemented to proactively analyze student behavior.

Implementing Successfully
Additionally, there are steps that can be taken that solidify the framework of institutional accountability. Foremost, each quadrant perspective should have an executive leader that takes ownership of its development. Executive management maintains the balance but trusts its departmental leadership to drive initiatives.

The next step towards successful implementation occurs during the strategic planning process. As with any facet of an institution, it should be given budgetary consideration and be held to monthly/quarterly standards. Monthly reliance on driver metrics ensures accountability and quarterly inter-quadrant analysis allows for agile response to any problems within the initiatives.

Finally, communication is key to the successful implementation. In addition to monthly report outs, consider aligning initiatives and metrics to performance appraisals.

Implementation Timeline
Using a calendar year (January through December) operating cycle, the typical timeline is to start the process in May and complete the Balanced Scorecard by August. This allows several feedback loops prior to the start of the budget process in August that, based upon experience, is finalized by December. Factoring goals, initiatives and metrics into the fiscal operating budget helps ensure that the institution’s strategies are supported throughout the organization.

In any given year an institution might have 4-5 goals each accompanied by its own scorecard. By placing them concretely within the budget process, these goals attain a tangible identity and, coupled with the metrics, promote balanced, driven, institutional growth.

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