USING THE BALANCED SCORECARD DURING COVID-19
Your business is just one among millions of businesses around the world that have been affected by the current global pandemic known as the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The nature of the effect this pandemic has left on your business has either been positive or negative. The vast majority, without a doubt, fall in the latter bracket of businesses badly hit by the virus. You are probably wondering how a business could possibly benefit from something so detrimental. Well, the answer is simple – by identifying possible gaps and filling them. The Coronavirus has largely contributed to an upsurge in revenue for businesses involved in mask making; soap, sanitizer, and glove manufacturing, just to mention a few. As a business owner, you also ought to be a strategist, especially during a time such as this. To help bolster that strategy acumen, the Balanced Scorecard is just what you need.
What is the Balanced Scorecard and how can it help my business thrive during a time of crisis? The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic implementation tool used in strategy formulation by businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations, Governmental Organisations and other institutions. It is premised on four pillars or themes, which are the Learning and Growth Perspective, Internal Business Processes, Customer Perspective and lastly the Financial Perspective. To address the question of how this tool could help your business thrive during a time of crisis, we will tackle each of the four perspectives one by one and make them as applicable as possible. This does not only apply to businesses that are struggling as a result of the pandemic’s implications, but it could also suffice for businesses that are positively benefiting from it.
Learning and Growth
Learning and Growth is the first perspective of the Balanced Scorecard; just like learning how to crawl for a toddler precedes learning how to walk. It is the fundamental part of the tool because it involves upskilling and training of staff for your business. In the case of Covid-19, it would mean educating your staff on the dangers of the pandemic as well equipping them with preventive measures that they could also pass on to others. It would mean making drastic changes in the daily modus operandi of how your employees manage your clients. There would have to be a complete shift in your business’ entire work culture. Furthermore, in response to the pandemic, this tool would help with identifying which employees are to be regarded as priority and which employees should be furloughed if necessary. This would help maximise productivity and output and minimise costs by aiming to produce more with less - with respect to the 80/20 Pareto Principle.
Internal Business Processes
The second perspective of the Balanced Scorecard has to do with your internal business processes. This addresses the issue of how your business can become operationally efficient. It also helps with identifying the necessary enhancements required for your existing infrastructure. This could be ICT infrastructure for example. To make this more applicable, let us take a scenario involving a response to the current Covid-19 global pandemic. Because social distancing and working remotely have become part of our everyday lives now, many local businesses have since taken to virtual platforms as a way of having meetings, conducting online classes, and other work-related issues. The most popular among these virtual platforms currently is the Zoom Video Conferencing Platform, because of its diverse and flexible user-friendly interface. Of course, this method of interaction does come at a cost, but it certainly is worth it, especially if you would still like your business to be up and running.
Every business exists in order to serve its esteemed clients and it is therefore imperative that every business strives to keep its clients satisfied. This brings us to our third perspective, which is the Customer Perspective. How do you keep your clients satisfied? The basic answer to this would be ‘by meeting their every need.’ Correct! But it does not just end there. Critical to this are the ‘how’ and ‘when’ factors of meeting those needs. Quality is of remarkably high importance to a customer and it addresses the ‘how’ factor of whatever it is that you are selling, be it a good or service. Turnaround time addresses the ‘when’ factor. Nobody likes to have to wait for awfully long to have what is due to them. This is where many of our local businesses miss it. It is something we take for granted. Research has shown strong links between businesses’ success or failure rates and turnaround time vis-à-vis service delivery. Turnaround time simply refers to how long it takes to get something done. Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, your clients will be happier if you still delivered your services on time and up to standard instead of giving trivial excuses. This is what gives you that cutting edge and sets you apart from the rest.
A happy client will be compelled to make an injection to your revenue stream without hesitation if you give them good reason to. We are now on our final pillar of the Balanced Scorecard, which is the financial perspective. Under this pillar, we look at how your business can optimise its revenue as well as manage its costs. Currently, many businesses in Zambia have been negatively affected by the Coronavirus. One way they could still manage and grow their revenue base is by diversifying their portfolio. As a business, you may have to tap into a trade that is relevant to prevailing times, particularly in relation to the Coronavirus. I was quite impressed by a story I saw on the news a few days ago about Zambian Breweries. Zambian Breweries, which is typically known as beer making company, has tapped into the antiseptic and soap making industry by producing hand sanitiser. It identified a gap on the market and created a solution. As a result, Zambian Breweries will be adding to its revenue base having diversified its portfolio into a parallel playing field. In addition to diversification, your business can aim to cut down on certain costs that may be unnecessary at this point, for example, meal allowances for staff and electricity bills, depending on the nature of your business.
With that said, it is still possible for your business to thrive amid a highly unprecedented hostile pandemic. By applying these four basic concepts, you should be rest assured of a positive change in the dynamics of your business’ performance. I would like to end with a quote from an anonymous author, that states that, ‘Adversity is inevitable, but difficulties or misfortunes don’t have to keep you from achieving your intended goals and finding the happiness you seek in business and in life.’