BsC Offers New Balanced Scorecard Training Resources and Upgrade to Strategic Planning App

Balanced Scorecard for iPad

Business Strategy Consultoria of Madrid, Spain has recently updated its popular Balanced Scorecard app for iPad. The new release, version 2.1, includes improved data entry, security options when deleting a company profile, and the elimination of a data sync issue. a complete Dashboard that lets you Monitor the Progress of your Business Strategy and Design your own Balanced Scorecard . You can Control the Success of your Strategy each month through the Measurement of most Important Indicators.

The upgrade is free and it’s currently available in the App Store.

Balanced Scorecard for Excel

In other news from BsC, a crop of training and support videos have been published for their improved Balanced Scorecard for Microsoft Excel product which retails for $20 Euros. The training resources are free. Here’s an example.

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Integrate BsC Data With Google Docs Using XML: Part Two

In Part One of this Two Part post, we discussed the transformation of BsC’s XML format into English using an XML transformation I created. This provided two demonstrations – we parsed the entire company file of a BsC example, and we also made it possible to have an English version of the original Spanish XML schema.

Today we’ll build on our expertise with XML to integrate a BsC project into Google Docs so that we can create some interesting financial data.

One of the really cool features of Google Docs spreadsheets is it’s ability to read XML data over HTTP. As you may recall from the Part One exercise, we hosted a BsC strategic plan document on DropBox, and we can repurpose it now to access it and extract specific data values right from inside a Google Docs spreadsheet.

Creating an XML Spreadsheet

For this example, I created a blank Google Docs spreadsheet and formatted columns to accommodate month, target value, real value, and delta. The objective is to get the target and real values for twelve months and compare their differences. This is a simple example, but it demonstrates two basic integration essentials – (i) using BsC XML documents and (ii) parsing them to retrieve the desired information.

Google Docs provides a special function for retrieving data from XML documents. The format of the function is:

=ImportXML(“URL”, “XPath”)

By programming a specific cell with this function and including the URL to the BsC document and the XPath to the information we desire, we can specify specific data elements or ranges of elements. XPath, the standard for Parsing XML files, is necessary because the BsC document contains many data elements, but for this example we only want the twelve months of target and real values associated with idIndicator #23.

To limit the scope of the data we harvest into the spreadsheet, the XPath will look like this:

//database/data/monthIndicator/row[idIndicator=’23’]/targetValue

The URL we will use is the same one we created in the Part One article that transformed the original BsC Spanish version to an English version, which I can understand a little better.

http://blogsite.com/public/item/268847

The complete function that we will use to retrieve the target values for the desired data looks like this:

=ImportXML(“http://blogsite.com/public/item/268847”, “//database/data/monthIndicator/row[idIndicator=’23’]/targetValue”)

By placing this function in the spreadsheet on the first cell under Target Value, the Google Docs scripting engine will retrieve the first XPath matching target value and place it in the same cell. The XMLImport() function is also smart enough to retrieve all XPath matches for idIndicator #23 and drop the values in the subsequent 11 additional rows of the same column. With one function call we have acquired a full year’s data for this target value.

Since we need the Real Value for each of the twelve months for this indicator, we must repeat the process in the adjacent cell of the first row. The function to retrieve the real values for all twelve months is almost identical, except that the XPath must now parse for “realValue” instead of “targetValue”.

=ImportXML(“http://blogsite.com/public/item/268847”, “//database/data/monthIndicator/row[idIndicator=’23’]/realValue”)

Our spreadsheet is complete – we are able to harvest the two columns with our two XMLImport() functions and compare target values with real values. 

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As the BsC data is updated in the XML company file, as long as it is available at the same URL, the spreadsheet will always show this report using the latest data.

The XMLImport() function can be used to extract BsC data for reporting and many other spreadsheet uses. It can also be integrated into many other applications; this example demonstrates just one possible use case for BsC XML documents. But this also demonstrates how BsC data can be liberated from the confines of an iPad app and its proprietary data format. Once the information is freed, we can extend this example by using it in a dynamic BI dashboard.

Geckoboard

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I like Geckoboard (a lot). My affinity is the ease with which you can sculpt XML on the fly to create dynamic dashboards. I perfected a scripting model that also allows me to generate Geckoboard XML components from within Google Docs, so this is a great opportunity to extendthe BsC data out to a totally different BI dashboard.

By taking a selection of the data from the dynamically updated spreadsheet, I can transform it into a dashboard widget. In this example, I’ll use the January data to create a widget that shows the target value, the real value, and the delta.

Wrap Up

As you can see – the freedom to repurpose BsC data is there – you just need to liberate the information using XML. While there are many aspects of XML integration and always-available web services that need to be considered including security, the tools and services are relatively straightforward. If you have questions about these exaples or ways you can leverage BsC data, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Integrating Balanced Scorecard for iPad Using XML

This is a pretty technical topic, but I think a number of users of this Balanced Scorecard for iPad (BsC) will find this information interesting at some level. If you ever want to integrate your scorecard data with othersystems, this article will certainly come in handy.

This is part one of a two-part article. The first part deals with a localization issue and the second part will show you some practical use cases for leveraging BsC data files.

BsC Supports XML

In case you missed it, the most recent update to Balanced Scorecard for iPad (BsC) provides a feature that allows you to not only share scorecard files through a web service, but also export and share them in XML format. The new XML abilities make it possible to import your BsC projects into other enterprise systems. Given this ability, BsC data can now flow into almost any environment including reporting tools, collaboration systems, and even accounting systems. It is also possible to perform round-trip updates since the XML format may also be imported back into BsC.

As I began to experiment with BsC’s XML format I slammed into a wall right away. The XML schema is defined in Spanish and I barely read and write English. As soon as the dust settled I realized – okay, no worries – there’s a companion technology to XML called XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Transformation Language). If indeed BsC’s XML format is valid and well-formed, I should be able to translate the documents in a jiff. So, without breaking my integration stride, I created a simple transformation document with the help of some translation guideposts from Eduardo (at BsC) and Google Translator.

Why is an English Version of the BsC XML Format Important?

Integrators are far more productive (and precise) if they can look at an XML document and understand what each element represents. This is one of the great advantages of XML and why so many companies, even brutal competitors, have agreed that this is an ideal interchange format. The following snippet from a BsC XML document is really difficult for me to read.

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However, the next snippet, transformed into English, is quite easy to understand.

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What Does XSLT Do?

It’s very simple really – it allows you to parse an XML document and change it (transform it) into something else. The “something else” in this case is the same data but with a different XML schema; specifically a schema that I, and everyone who reads English, can readily understand.

Writing a transformation stylesheet requires the use of XSL (extensible stylesheet language) and it so happens I have some experience doing this. With a few hours of tests and another few hours of translation effort, I was able to create a simple Spanish-to-English transformation script. This involves reading the BsC format and writing out the same data but with a different set of XML elements (in English).

XSL uses rules to match and then generate something different. In this case, we want to generate another XML document, but XSL can also generate anything you want it to – CSV, HTML, DOCX – pretty much any format you can imaging, XSL can generate. I think it can even generate binary files, but I’m not sure about that.

My transformation engine matches XML elements in the BsC document such as the month data block. As you probably know, BsC’s strategic planning model requires monthly data, and the Spanish element used in the schema is “MESINDICADOR”. I want that to say “monthIndicator” so I create a transformation rule to look for this block of elements and replace it with my own [English] schema.

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You Can Experiment Too

I  published my Spanish-to-English transformation engine at this address:

http://blogsite.com/public/item/268847

If you run this URL, avoid doing so in IE browsers – something about it isn’t well behaved. Calling this URL without any parameters will automatically select and transform a sample BSC file that I hosted here. It is the raw, native Spanish version of a BsC file.

If you want to pass your own BsC file to this transformation tool, you have to place it on a web server of some type and then add the parameter as shown in this example.

http://blogsite.com/public/item/268847?xmlFile=http%3A%2F%2Fblogsite.com%2Fdocs%2Ftest.xml

Note that the URL for the BsC XML file is URL encoded. This is important and if you don’t know how to encode URLs so that they can be passed as URL parameters, this free online tool will help you. You can also use DropBox as a temporary web server. Just use the public folder feature in DropBox to store BsC files that you want to pass to this transformation engine. DropBox also provides a feature in its web interface to copy the public URL to any file you’ve uploaded.

So that’s it for today – you now have the tools to see what BsC generates in terms of XML content from an English perspective. Part two of this series will provide a number of examples for leveraging BsC XML in real situations.

Stay tuned…

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New Video Review of “Balanced Scorecard for iPad” by Bill French (Sr. Editor from iPadCTO)

A new review to watch our Business App “Balanced Scorecard for iPad” running
Enjoy it!

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Scorecards and Metrics Killing Employee Engagement: Perhaps

This is an interesting debate – should corporations create guidelines and values instead of absolute rules and measures? “Doing what’s right for the customer” is a value that can drive appropriate action, but is it a value that is instilled with Balanced Scorecard?

Are Scorecards and Metrics Killing Employee Engagement? – Adrian C. Ott – Harvard Business Review

Adrian C. Ott is a corporate advisor and speaker on customer strategy and innovation and the author of The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy. Follow her on Twitter at @ExponentialEdge. 9:23 AM Tuesday July 12, 2011 by Adrian C. Ott | Comments () Staff Sgts.

“Clearly rules are important but just as important is the ability to use judgment and common sense. Unfortunately, judgment and common sense are less easy to authorize.” John Todor

Too many rules can kill employee engagement. http://fb.me/JVnMq2kJ
hcscando
July 13, 2011
“To me, this is about company size and culture, not the “evil” employees following rules that make no sense. Zappos would have handled this differently. Add too many layers between customer and employee and this is what happens.” — Phil Simon
Is it time to throw out your employee metrics? http://bit.ly/rm8vck #HR #metrics #scorecards
MattSims20
July 13, 2011

Good performance metrics motivate employees to help the organization (or their department or their workgroup) achieve strategic objectives that align with the organization’s overall objectives. There are certainly poorly formed metrics out there and perhaps Delta is guilty of such an infraction. But in this example, it doesn’t seem that performance metrics are to blame.”Wayne Eckerson

An incident between U.S. soldiers and Delta employees serves as an example of how rules disable employee judgment
Human Capital Strategies
July 13, 2011
In Lead By Greatness (to be published in September) I dedicate a section on how to use metrics to MEASURE and not to DRIVE behavior, how to measure human output rather than input and how to make sure that metrics don’t instill fear into people and paralysis into companies.”David Lapin

This was a compelling commentary by Diane from NewBrainForBusiness.com. Here comments…

There are several things we know about how human brains work that impact this – it’s not just bad judgment on the part of executive management. When our “fear mechanism” is triggered (e.g., someone makes a noticable mistake and we want to be sure it never happens again)our “old brain” takes charge and …

  1. We want to solve problems NOW. We want the solution to be SIMPLE. Rules appear to simplify things and provide a permanent solution. We feel like we’ve really done something about the problem. Metrics work in the same way, focusing us, simplifying our understanding of what actually happened. Simple is good for the part of our old brain in search of safety.
  2. We blame others – then, we don’t have to do anything differently. Employee “engagement” is an artificial concept that drives us to imagine we can control employee behavior. When it doesn’t work out, we’ve done the right thing and it’s someone else’s fault. In order to engage an employee to be and do his/her best, it takes regularly and frequently interaction.
  3. We make up stories about what is happening and believe them. Our tendency toward certainty can lead to bad decisions at all levels. Overused top-down metrics, policies and procedures represent a great example of this.

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Why Strategic Planning with iPad Apps Require Organizational Integration

A recent post by Jörgen Dahlberg at EA Blogs (An Integrated View of Change) underscores a critical element of strategic planning.

It often happens that when you reach for the business strategic view to explain why certain things should happen at other levels, communication get overtly complicated. Most of us are used to encountering strategy maps, scorecards, motivation models and since 2009 business model canvases. The problem I’ve encountered is that these perspectives of the business are rarely integrated properly.

Jörgen goes on in his post to identify what he believes is the cause of this dysfunction – that there are different professions using these tools. And the availability of strategic planning tools such as Strategy Architect, Business Model Toolbox, and Balanced Scorecard (for ipad), only serve to accentuate this likelihood. And with pervasive access to mobile tools like this, a variety of professionals and employees will become more involved in planning activities and from different different perspectives of the organization.

One cannot help imagining deeper adoption of mobile planning apps is good. However, as Jörgen is quick to point out, the different tools (now available as iPad apps) achieve different objectives within the context of an overall framework of much-needed collaboration. But another risk lay on the horizon.

There’s an App for That…

The new moniker of the mobile app movement and the foundation of the emerging app-centric enterprise, is likely to cause problems. According to Bill French, Sr Editor at iPadCTO,

Apps create a sense of empowerment; a feeling that you are smart, savvy, and wise concerning whatever topic the business app happens to focus on. Apps are the latest embodiment of knowledge capital and they come with a powerful warrantee of implicit authority. This can backfire if the app requires any skill or knowledge about the subject.

Organizations with goals of using these tools more deeply in their planning and BI processes should carefully consider how to create an integrated view. Jörgen’s chart provides some insight into this challenge.

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Operational Integration

While skills and organization integration are key requirements in expanding strategic planning with iPad, there’s also the issue of operational integration. This typically is best handled with XML, and the latest version of Balanced Scorecard (for iPad) now supports this as part of our premium package which is provided for all app purchasers.

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With the XML feeds, it it possible to create integrations with spreadsheets, servers, and other types of data involved in creating a unified model for better organizational integration.

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“Useful” iPad Apps for Business and Balanced Scorecard

What’s a business application? It’s one that helps our business.

And what’s a useful business application? It’s one that helps to “improve productivity” and makes easier our Business.

The difference is important, there are many business apps and we have to select those “useful business apps”.

The Appstore categories differentiate their nature but do not guarantee their effectiveness in “improving our productivity.”

Let me tell you my experience as an entrepreneur and how iPad helps me:

The first time I used an iPad I asked myself if I already had a desktop computer, a laptop and a mobile phone with an Internet connection, why buy an iPad?

I firstly used to read emails and access Internet, later I used to read news and download interesting apps that help me in my work.

But something was missing, people talk about mobility, data available anywhere, anytime, and ease to use. I needed a tool that would allow me to manage my company’s strategy, see the most important objectives at a glance, indicators to tell me if I’m in the right way to compare my budget to reality and to analyze variations.

That’s when I was thinking on Balanced Scorecard methodology, a well known and prestigious methodology used by large companies. There was the solution I needed, but the problem was the software price, too high for my small business.

Putting together all these needs and concerns, a brilliant idea was born to create a business app for iPad to help companies design and manage the achievement of strategies easily and effectively: “BSC-i: Balanced Scorecard”.

Later, due to the popular success of this app we created another two specialized app for ​Human Resources and Non-Profit Organizations, evolving each version with new features.

Also, few days ago we uploaded a free LITE version at Appstore.

The key of these apps are usability, simplicity and design, getting a unique experience for the user and placing at the palm of its hand the control of its business.

To better understand what this app can do for your Business please watch this video

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