Sunday, June 2, 2013

IBM's Cognos Performance Manager- Good Way to Implement a Balanced Scorecard?

This week’s article on using a balanced scorecard really opened my eyes to the importance of going beyond just financial metrics and performance to determine how a company is doing.  It also made me see that although it may seem very intuitive to look into short-term actions when making strategic decisions, it is important to connect them with the long-term strategy of the company.

To learn a bit more about the ways that companies are using this knowledge today, I looked into the systems that IBM currently offers for strategy management. One in particular called the Cognos Performance Manager really exemplified the ideal use of a balanced scorecard in many ways.

This system aims to improve the quality of knowledge-based work specifically in analysis, collaboration and determining next steps. Cognos software allows you to model, analyze and plan more affectively across what they call “information sweet spots” throughout different parts of the company including marketing, HR,  Sales, IT, etc.  The system helps you to pinpoint very quickly the problem areas within certain departments and more importantly discover what their causes may be.  For example, in HR you are able to look into the rate of turnover and then directly find out the reasons that employees are deciding to leave. From there a manager is empowered to make decisions on how he or she would want to minimize turnover in the future.

The system seems to be user friendly, colorful, and very graph and chart oriented. It takes a lot of information and organizes it so you can see patterns across different areas all in one place. Other departments can monitor the data of others, which offers a lot of transparency throughout the company. All of the information is also tracked against the goals set forth be upper management. For example, if the company’s goal is to have $50 million in sales, and they only have $40 million in sales it would show up in red as a problem to look into. This is fantastic because it forces the executive managers to agree on exact goals for the company, and everyone knows exactly what those goals are. New decisions are also immediately visible and communicated throughout the organization.

 For executive management, the compound dashboards are a really great way to see information quickly. The dashboard gives you a macro view of what’s going on in the business, and is very intuitive.  This system also allows managers to change forecasts and model the effects of possible decisions, so they can see how a certain decision may affect the company. This is a great way to help managers develop their strategies for the future.

Dashboard for executive management

One way that the Cognos model falls short in my opinion is it still seems to be a little short-term focused. Although managers are sharing their goals for the company in the next quarter, or year, employees are still not seeing the big picture goals for the long term. Adding to the module a way to see how the short term goals fit in to the long-term vision would help everyone at the company to understand why what they are doing is important. For example if there was a way to compare metrics across companies or industries, everyone could see where the company landed in terms of the rest of the competition. Or even if the module compared the company to the ideal version of the company in 10 years, it would give users an idea of what they are striving toward.

To see the IBM Cognos performance manager  demo please click HERE

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