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April 2003

The balanced scorecard

The balanced scorecard imageMatthew is currently assisting the Independent Projects Trust (IPT) in their initiative to make the Public Prosecution Authority in KwaZulu-Natal more efficient and effective. In this article, Iole Matthews from IPT and Matthew explain the system they are using to manage and monitor the two-year programme in KZN.

What is the balanced scorecard?

A new approach to stategic management was developed in the early 1990s by Drs. Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and David Norton (Balanced Scorecard Collaborative). They named this system the ‘balanced scorecard’. Recognising some of the weaknesses and vagueness of previous management approaches, the balanced scorecard approach provides a clear prescription as to what companies should measure in order to ‘balance’ the financial perspective.

The balanced scorecard is a management system (not only a measurement system) that enables organisations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. It provides feedback around both the internal business processes and external outcomes in order to continuously improve strategic performance and results. When fully deployed, the balanced scorecard transforms strategic planning from an academic exercise into the nerve centre of an enterprise.

Why ‘balanced’

Historically, in business the financial results of the organisation was the only thing that mattered. Kaplan and Norton argued that this traditional focus on only financial results was inadequate for companies striving to succeed in the information age. There was a need to ‘balance’ the financial aspect with other aspects of the business such as investment in suppliers, employees, processes, technology and innovation. Kaplan and Norton describe the innovation of the balanced scorecard as follows:

‘The balanced scorecard retains traditional financial measures. But financial measures tell the story of past events, an adequate story for industrial age companies for which investments in long-term capabilities and customer relationships were not critical for success. These financial measures are inadequate, however, for guiding and evaluating the journey that information age companies must make to create future value through investment in customers, suppliers, employees, processes, technology, and innovation.’

This resulted in the development of a balanced scorecard which suggests that organisations are best viewed, and measured, from four perspectives:

  • The learning and growth perspective
  • The business process perspective
  • The customer perspective
  • The financial perspective

The learning and growth perspective

This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. In a knowledge-worker organisation, people — the only repository of knowledge — are the main resource. In the current climate of rapid technological change, it is becoming necessary for knowledge workers to be in a continuous learning mode. Government agencies often find themselves unable to hire new technical workers and at the same time is showing a decline in training of existing employees. This is a leading indicator of ‘brain drain’ that must be reversed. Metrics can be put into place to guide managers in focusing training funds where they can help the most. In any case, learning and growth constitute the essential foundation for success of any knowledge-worker organisation.

Kaplan and Norton emphasise that ‘learning’ is more than ‘training’; it also includes things like mentors and tutors within the organisation, as well as the ease of communication among workers that allows them to readily get help on a problem when it is needed.

The business process perspective

This perspective refers to internal business processes. Metrics based on this perspective allow the managers to know how well their business is running, and whether its products and services conform to customer requirements (the mission). These metrics have to be carefully designed by those who know these processes most intimately; with our unique missions these are not something that can be developed by outside consultants.

The customer perspective

Recent management philosophy has shown an increasing realisation of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. These are leading indicators: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance from this perspective is thus a leading indicator of future decline, even though the current financial picture may look good.

In developing metrics for satisfaction, customers should be analysed in terms of kinds of customers and the kinds of processes for which we are providing a product or service to those customer groups.

The financial perspective

Kaplan and Norton do not disregard the traditional need for financial data. Timely and accurate funding data will always be a priority, and managers will do whatever necessary to provide it. In fact, often there is more than enough handling and processing of financial data. With the implementation of a corporate database, it is hoped that more of the processing can be centralised and automated. But the point is that the current emphasis on financials leads to the ‘unbalanced’ situation with regard to other perspectives.

There is perhaps a need to include additional financial-related data, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit data, in this category.

Outcome measures

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. So measures or indicators must be developed based on the priorities of the strategic plan, which provides the key business drivers and criteria for managers to watch. Processes are then designed to collect information relevant to these metrics and reduce it to numerical form for storage, display, and analysis. Decision makers examine the outcomes of various measured processes and strategies and track the results to guide the company and provide feedback.

So the value of indicators is in their ability to provide a factual basis for defining:

  • strategic feedback to show the present status of the organisation from many perspectives for decision makers;
  • diagnostic feedback into various processes to guide improvements on a continuous basis;
  • trends in performance over time as the metrics are tracked;
  • feedback around the measurement methods themselves, and which metrics should be tracked;
  • quantitative inputs to forecasting methods and models for decision support systems.

The Baldrige Criteria (1997) booklet reiterates this concept of using indicators in this manner to assist managers:

"A major consideration in performance improvement involves the creation and use of performance measures or indicators. Performance measures or indicators are measurable characteristics of products, services, processes, and operations the company uses to track and improve performance. The measures or indicators should be selected to best represent the factors that lead to improved customer, operational, and financial performance.
A comprehensive set of measures or indicators tied to customer and/or company performance requirements represents a clear basis for aligning all activities with the company’s goals. Through the analysis of data from the tracking processes, the measures or indicators themselves may be evaluated and changed to better support such goals."

Linking the balanced scorecard to strategy

The balanced scorecard is therefore a descriptive rather than prescriptive framework for implementing a strategy which can be shown like this:

Strategy does not (or should not) stand alone as a management process. A continuum exists that begins in the broadest sense with the mission of the organisation. The mission must be translated so that the actions of individuals are aligned and supportive of the mission. A management system should ensure that this translation is effectively made. Strategy is one step in a logical continuum that moves an organisation from a high level mission statement to the work performed by frontline and back office employees.


Assessing recruitment procedures for the Zivuseni anti-poverty programme

Assessing recruitment procedures for the Zivuseni anti-poverty programme imageIn the last edition of Phatlalatsa, Moagi Ntsime described S&T's role in the Zivuseni Gauteng poverty alleviation programme. Here he describes two diagnostic evaluation studies focusing on recruitment procedures and the extent to which the programme reaches its intended beneficiary group.

What is a diagnostic evaluation study?

Diagnostic evaluation studies are normally fast turn-around and very focused exercises with the aim to understanding in detail the challenges facing the implementation process. However, it is important to bear in mind that such rapid exercises may not be representative of the entire programme; but they do ensure that managers have information on which to base decisions and design interventions.

The main objective in carrying such exercises is to assist the implementation team in carrying out their management mandate and (where appropriate) steer the project in the desired direction. This is a monitoring function, intended to equip managers to deal with issues as they emerge and quickly institute corrective actions instead of allowing problems to worsen.

Soweto sites

For the diagnostic studies reported here, we agreed in consultation with the programme team to use two projects in Soweto that were part of the first phase of the programme. The two projects were the Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College and Isolihle Primary School. We wanted to assess whether or not the programme implemented its recruitment guidelines successfully, and what challenges it faced.

Pose questions to those directly affected

There are always lessons to be learned from the literature and documented experiences from elsewhere, as well as the policy and programme documentation; but it is always most valuable to pose questions to those directly impacted on. The value is that they bring different perspectives to the fore which can improve the programme strategies.

What we found

After conducting the interviews and analysing the data we noted that projects were following similar processes in recruiting their workforce. Beneficiaries are selected when a Cluster Manager forwarded his/her request to the programme office for workers, specifying the labour requirements – how many workers, for what types of work and over what duration

The programme office has a database of people who registered during the Zivuseni registration process, from which they select people. However, the database was designed such that it did not allow manipulation to ensure that all those registered have an equal chance of being selected. The programme officer responsible for administering the database confirmed that it was difficult to ascertain whether a person had been selected previously or not, and to do so manual recording had to be used. We are pleased to report that as a result of this exercise and suggestions from the Programme Steering Committee, the system has since been reformatted.

Beneficiary perspective

Zivuseni targets the unemployed and poorest members of the community from sites identified as priorities for anti-poverty interventions. This brings its own challenges.

Firstly, we found that many of those involved in the programme had been unemployed for a number of years. Many had children to look after. According to most of them, the programme was a huge relief to them, helping eradicate some of their miseries. They were now able to buy food for their children from the allowances they received for their engagement in the programme. As one of them told us, ‘since my involvement in Zivuseni now my children can go to school with something in their stomachs’.

While beneficiaries were appreciative of the changes Zivuseni brought to their lives, the fact that it is a short-term employment creation programme was of great concern. The programme aims to reach poor and unemployed people, and the projects are short-term, often lasting not more than three months. After this, rotation occurs and other members of the beneficiary community are given an opportunity to work for three months.

Targeted areas: Source of labour

The programme design is that members of the workforce should come from the communities where projects are being implemented. This requires tight selection procedures and very clear explanations of the objectives of the programme to all concerned – notably those who are poor but whose local areas are not targeted for projects.

Members of the project team and workforce told us that a high proportion of those who worked on projects were local residents. During the preparatory stages of the programme, those who registered were urged to do so in their respective localities to avoid disqualification. Members of the local Community Steering Committees worked closely with the project team to ensure this was adhered to. No-one can guarantee a watertight process, but it is commendable that the programme is committed to ensuring an equitable distribution of short-term employment opportunities.

Women's work?

The target beneficiaries for Zivuseni are women, youth, men and the disabled. Each of these has to form a certain proportion of the workforce with special emphasis on women who head single households. Achieving employment targets is a contractual delivery of those responsible for implementing the programme. The problem we have encountered elsewhere is that targets for women are achieved by employing them at the very end of a project to clean and tidy it ready for hand-over; or during the project to make tea and 'help the men'.

It was encouraging to note that while the programme was struggling in certain instances to reach its targets, women were performing same tasks as their male counterparts. For example, in Isolihle Primary School in Zola 3, women were involved in carrying out activities such as painting classrooms, toilets and the roof; installing tiles; and renovating damaged ceilings. This is extremely positive; and we hope our findings are more broadly representative of Zivuseni.


There are other national and provincial government programmes which could be confused with Zivuseni. This is obviously problematic, given the specificities of each programme and the need to avoid sending out contradictory messages. For example, Zivuseni is running parallel to Letsema; in Letsema, community members are expected to work as volunteers and do not receive an allowance. Robust communication strategies are commonly the last part of a development programme (or second last, one above M&E); this despite the self-evident need for communication.

'Low class work'

One of the most unfortunate trends that emerged from our diagnostic evaluation studies in Soweto was that some beneficiaries do not want to do ‘low class’ work. An example given was that just before the World Summit on Sustainable Development, people were selected to join a litter clean-up campaign. When they were informed that the project involved picking up garbage, most declined.

Zivuseni is a short-term employment creation and poverty alleviation programme. Therefore, it has ambitious overall objectives, it has a small window of time within which to spread its net as widely as possible. It cannot address all the poverty problems of the province and its municipalities. It faces some real challenges: but is also making real advances.


Development aid to South Africa

Development aid to South Africa imageSouth Africa's importance for promoting economic growth and poverty reduction in Southern Africa should be the main focus in future development assistance concludes a recent review of Norwegian development assistance to South Africa. The review, which S&T helped conduct, was led by Elling TjØnneland of the Christian Michelsen Institute (CMI) and Pundy Pillay, the former deputy director-general in the President's office. In this article, a summary of a CMI Policy Brief written by Elling, we highlight the major findings of the review. The report itself – From Aid to Partnership – A Joint Review of Norwegian South African Development Co-operation 1995-2001 – is available from www.cmi.no/public/2003/R2003-01.htm .

In 2000, South Africa's National Treasury carried out a major evaluation of the aid inflow in the 1994-1999 period. It concluded that aid had played a significant role in many areas. It assisted in transformation of institutions, in developing new policies, in implementation and delivery of services and in exposing South Africa to lessons and experiences from other countries. This may have been achieved also without development aid, but then probably at a much slower speed. In consolidating new and fragile democracies, speed and swift action are important and sometimes crucial. However, the evaluation also noted that the impact of foreign aid was highly uneven. The aid was not sufficiently focused and the South African management was not optimal. In particular, it was found that the Treasury had limited capacity to facilitate donor co-ordination. The CMI review of Norwegian aid reached similar conclusions with significant deviations.

Real partnership

The CMI review found that Norwegian development assistance to South Africa has been well aligned with the policy priorities of this country. Moreover, the assistance has been successful in facilitating and building relations and co-operation between a range of institutions in Norway and South Africa. For Norway, this is particularly evident and comprehensive in higher education and research, and also in some state departments and civil society organisations. Institutional co-operation has strengthened political co-operation between the two countries in a number of areas. However, the commercial interaction between the two countries has been limited, and the CMI review concludes that the potential for such interaction may not have been fully exploited.

Policies for a new democracy

The greatest impact of the Norwegian development assistance has been on government processes such as developing new policies and planning institutional reforms. The contributions with the best results have been in support to fisheries and energy policy. These are also areas where Norway has been in a position to offer highly competent technical assistance and where Norway's own experience has been relevant. In fisheries the Norwegian support focused on the policies and legislative framework addressing the management of marine resources and the redistribution of fishing quotas. Energy policy research and capacity building liberalised and re-regulated the energy market.

Insufficient support to poverty reduction

The impact of the support to policy implementation and capacity building has not been optimal. The Norwegian support has been characterised by insufficient co-ordination and lack of overall vision. Frequently capacity building was seen as just training and insufficient attention was paid to the need to integrate capacity building into the plans of organisations and institutions. Whilst support to the local government sector has been relevant and effective this was not in the case in the direct support given to poverty reduction and job creation initiatives. In fact Norway withdrew its support and/or shifted its priorities when implementation problems emerged on the South African side.

Support to civil society

Civil society has been a major recipient of Norwegian development aid. These funds have been channelled both through Norwegian NGOs and directly to civil society. In contrast to many other foreign donors, the Norwegian funding has remained focused on smaller NGOs and community-based organisations. Norway has paid limited attention to the use of South African NGOs in order to improve implementation and service delivery in government programmes, a shift that might have been more effective. There is however, limited knowledge of the impact and the role of the Norwegian and other foreign support to civil society institutions.

Prioritise the region

Norway has strongly emphasised the regional dimension in its support to South Africa. Since 1999 Norway has attempted to build regional components into all programmes. This has also been welcomed and supported by the South African government. However, the achievements so far have been limited. In most cases, the regional programmes are often limited to funds for networking and participation in regional workshops. Nevertheless, the review did find that many of these regional initiatives hold promise.

The main recommendation of the review revolves around the regional component. South Africa. The Review concludes that support to regional development efforts should be the key priority in the co-operation between Norway and South Africa, especially as South Africa plays such an important role in the region and because South Africa's leaders have the political will and commitment to facilitate growth and development in Southern Africa. However, the review does caution that regional development should only be supported if:

  • it is not confined only to supporting South African led activities;
  • there is a strong emphasis on capacity building and institutional development;
  • it is aligned with the policies and guidelines developed by regional organisations and that the support assists with the further development of these policies; and
  • it prioritised security, stability and good governance, especially in relation to SADC and the African Union/ NEPAD.

HIV/AIDS & discrimination

HIV/AIDS & discrimination imageAccording to the 12th National HIV and Syphilis Sero-prevalence survey of women attending public antenatal clinics in South Africa, an estimated 4.74 million South Africans had HIV by the end of 2001. Every day people living with HIV/AIDS face a variety of problems because of discrimination. The Department of Health has recognised that fear of discrimination is a significant obstacle to persons coming forward for counselling, testing, support and treatment.

Noting the lack of data around the nature and extent of HIV/AIDS discrimination, the Department commissioned Strategy & Tactics (S&T), in partnership with the AIDS Law Project of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, to conduct baseline research on HIV/AIDS discrimination in South Africa.
The objectives of the research were to:

  • profile the nature & extent of discrimination;
  • examine the impact of discrimination, particularly on health-seeking behaviour;
  • highlight obstacles to creating a conducive climate for disclosure of HIV-status;
  • develop a draft strategy to counter discrimination.

Using multiple methods – a literature review, focus groups and a random household survey – the focus of the research was on the social and communal aspects of discrimination found in every day life. Information from the literature and focus groups led to the development of the following model for understanding discrimination, which was then assessed using the survey data:

The data showed that low levels of fear, deviance and ignorance all contributed to lower levels of discrimination. However, the influence that these factors had on the levels of discrimination was not equal. The data highlighted that the area of ignorance must be at the heart of any strategy to counter discrimination.

Any strategy emanating from the Department of Health needs to take cognisance of, and be informed by, the existing legislative and policy environment in South Africa. In addition, a strategy for countering discrimination needs to be informed by existing, relevant programmes and initiatives. In essence there are two key components (which may not be mutually exclusive) of any response aimed at countering discrimination:

  • A legal and human rights response - which deals with legislative review/reform, increased awareness of rights and increased access to legal remedies for those affected by discrimination.
  • A broader programmatic response - deals with knowledge of HIV/AIDS, community perceptions/ awareness, access to health care and so on.

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