REVIEWER: Dan Feliciano - Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with GE Healthcare, American Society for Quality (ASQ) Vermont chairperson and industry consultant.

BACKGROUND: The ASQ is the world’s leading authority on quality. With more than 100,000 individual and organizational members, this professional association advances learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business results and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. GE Healthcare is renowned for innovative information technology that truly transforms care delivery with laser-like focus on improving patient safety, efficiency, productivity and business performance.

PLATFORMS: Windows XP and Vista.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The software provided us with a low-cost, robust solution to manage all our strategic planning, storage and collaboration needs. We needed to be able to store the data in a simple relational context with good clarity, ease of use, high adaptability and graphical output. It was essential that the strategy map be an integral part of the balanced scorecard along with the vision/mission statements and that a cross-referencing facility be available so employees could be shown who else was working toward similar objectives and similar measures.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The software allowed us to define the objectives in a flowchart or strategy map environment. These are used in the balanced scorecard objectives grid where up to 15 user-defined selectable columns could be cascaded throughout the organization, and auto cell merging is used to demonstrate a relational structure within the actual grid. Each objective grid row links to an initiatives grid that has up to 24 user-defined columns, including ample room for budgeting and financial planning. The objectives grid also has an optional weighted numeric measure column that is represented as a small speedometer, bar graph or percent value and is driven by a similar column in the initiatives grid. This is then averaged between the objectives and employees so that it is actually displayed graphically inside the strategy map as well as on the organizational tree for employees and departments. The benefit outcome has been an adaptable system that is low cost and fits our needs.

STRENGTHS: One of the software’s strongest unique features is that it is easy to use the New Strategic Plan wizard that walks you through a flowchart-based process of creating a new strategic plan. The adaptability and down-to-earth practicality was a big feature for us as we could rename any standard term. The closed-loop learning cycle provided by the weighted, averaged objective numeric score being displayed in the actual strategy map attached to the objectives and adjacent to a cross-referenced balanced scorecard grid showing the breakdown of this averaged numeric score is very powerful. The drill-down dashboard with its cross-referencing allowed us to focus on collaboration. The ability to have an open-date system where the initiatives can be planned and budgeted in a framework that was outside the current financial year meant that our problem solving was not artificially restricted by dates.

WEAKNESSES: We found that the lack of a U.S.-based dealer was difficult. However, with global communication tools such as Skype and Messenger, training became much easier. There are some other minor issues, such as column sorting and tachometer gauges, that the manufacturer is currently working on.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The adaptability of the system to support a variety of planning schemes was the main requirement. We were able to begin using it at a price that was much lower than all other products. Starting with the free personal version gave us the ability to get accustomed to the software without being pressured to buy consulting and hosting services.

DELIVERABLES: Grid output is provided with exporting to almost all popular formats. Graphical output is wide and varied, with the initiatives grid containing planned versus actual and income versus expense data that feeds the graphs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The product is well supported by email, Internet chat, audio conferencing and phone calls in a timely manner.

DOCUMENTATION: The help system is currently restricted to pop-up mouseover help. PDF help files are currently being adapted from earlier version documents. There is also a lack of strategic framework help information that is not a component of the actual software or documentation.

Strategy Map
Balanced Scorecard
Applied PC Systems Pty Ltd.
51 Adsett Street
TARINGA QLD 4068
Australia
+61 7 3871 0011
www.strategymap.com.au

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