Benefits Realization: Program Monitoring through Middle-out Balanced Scorecard
Tata Consultancy Services
Large transformation programs, as part of any corporate initiatives, are always tied to their intended
‘benefits’ as objectives of the programs. Even the well-endowed Program Management practitioners
usually get sidetracked by focusing on the execution of the program and its constituent projects, failing to
follow the well-developed Benefits Management principles, for periodically tracking the benefits (to be)
Balanced Scorecard (BSC), as a Corporate Strategy Deployment tool, is usually top-down driven. In this
paper, the author intends to describe a ‘Middle-out’ approach to BSC that can be adapted to any program
execution from Benefits Realization view point, given the daily challenges of program monitoring and
A case study, where ‘Middle-out’ approach of BSC was adopted, would be explained in this paper.
Benefits Realization: Program Monitoring through Middle-out Balanced Scorecard
Tata Consultancy Services, “Nyati Tiara”, Nagar Road, Yerawada, Pune - 411006
1. Introduction: As is evident, when organizations sanction large transformation programs, it would
be on the basis of a logical Business Case. Other than the requirements driven by statutory
processes of regulatory or Government authorities, many of these programs have, besides, solid
commercial end-of-logic but also of other organizational dimensions like People, Processes and
Technology as ‘drivers’ for the justification of budgetary sanctions.
‘Business Benefits’ or simply ‘Benefits’ have come a long way from being buried under Business
Case documents into being a subject of its standing in the body of Project and Program
Management framework. From a program management view point, ‘Benefits’ are the starting
point for Terms of Reference when programs are sanctioned and initiated. But once the
program(s) get into execution mode, benefits realization should become the focus of every
program review that happens at the tactical and strategic layers of the organization. Sadly, this
may not the case at every large programs that organizations run, as, not only the practitioners are
battling the daily grind of program and project management at the operational level but also may
ignore the well-developed Benefits Management framework, as identification of right measures
may be a challenge and monitoring the results of a ‘closed’ program would involve more time and
The Balanced Scorecard (BSC, henceforth) has been in practice for Corporate Performance
Management and for strategy deployment purposes since early 1990s (Kaplan and Norton, 1992;
1993; 2000). It has been used both at corporate level as well as at the level of a project or a
program. From a ‘performance management’ view point, many corporations have adopted it for
organizational performance and for measuring individuals’ performance from a Human Resource
management view point. From the example of a corporate scorecard getting cascaded to
individual teams’ level, there are cases where BSC had also been used for ‘Project focused IT
Organization’ (Alleman, 2003). From the design point of view, there are many organizations that
exist specializing both in BSC tools and in training (2GC, 2009).
In this paper, the author explains, in brief, a typical Benefits Management life cycle from the
Project and Program Management literature (and also from what is being practiced at Tata
Consultancy Services (TCS) for their customer assignments); describes BSC, which can be a
‘middle-out’ approach compared to the traditional top down way of arriving at scorecards; and
suggests how BSC – Middle –out approach can be used for tracking Benefits Realization in large
2. Benefits Management framework: The Benefits Management Strategy documentation should
take a cue from the program business case and elaborate upon the following points:
Description of the Program's benefits and where in the organization they will occur
(People, Process and Technology dimensions, besides the corporate financials);
Benefit model showing interrelations and dependencies, amongst intended benefits;
Functions, roles and responsibilities of individuals in the Program and in the larger
organization, as the recipients and the owners of the intended benefits (for benefits
planning and realization);
Review and assessment process for measuring benefits realization; this would be
accomplished by appropriate ‘Toll Gate(s) Review(s)’, along the Program progress.
The following diagram depicts the phases in Benefits Management framework and their
relationship to Program Lifecycle.
Fig 1: Program and Benefits Management Phases
Initiate – Plan – Mobilize – Execute - Close
a. Phases of Benefits Management: The Benefits Management Guideline is a collection of
activities, frameworks and templates designed to achieve the goal of realizing business values
from the programs. It achieves this via key phases, each with its own purpose and outputs.
Benefits Identification: Before we can plan or measure benefits, we must understand that
outcomes which are the targets of such investment. The Benefits Identification phase is all about
understanding and establishing the strategic intent and identifying the outcomes required
achieving this intent. A ‘Straw Model’ would be arrived at, identifying the relationships amongst, -
Program-end Business Benefits (the identified ‘reasons’ or the ‘intents’ for the Program
‘Enablers’ (the dimensions of People, Processes (IT and Business) and the Technology
‘Intermediate Benefits’: this is a critical step for identifying those ‘deliverables’ or
‘outcomes’ of intermediate stages of the Program, which would be then the drivers for
final Program Benefits.
Benefits Analysis: The focus of this step is to quantify the benefits in terms of measurable units.
Metrics, which can be tagged to each identified benefits along with Straw Model, would facilitate
drawing up of relationships amongst these benefits, along the lines of BSC, viz., ‘lead’ and ‘lag’
indicators. This would also facilitate testing hypotheses of ‘cause-and-effect’ relationships along
various, identified benefits, taking the cue from the BSC metaphor.
Benefits Planning: A plan is then created, which includes additional details such as the owner,
the target to be achieved and the units with which to measure benefits, via related projects’
deliverables. It also includes the necessary arrangements and infrastructure needed to be in
place to realize the benefits.
From the view point of program management phases, getting aligned to Benefits Management
phases, it should be noted that any Benefits Realization Plan should be dovetailed to Program
Plan, so that activities related to monitoring benefits accrual could be integrated with Program
Plan and then monitored.
Benefits Realization: Realizing the benefits is then achieved by monitoring progress towards the
planned outcomes, linked to the deliverables of appropriate project or group of projects. An
example could be a new Billing System or an Inventory System, whose efficiency parameters like
Speed, Capacity or Number of Transactions can be numerically verified and be compared with
the earlier systems. Deviations from plan can be picked up early, with appropriate corrective
action being planned and taken up. Throughout this process the business case should be
updated and maintained as there will inevitably be differences between what was initially
proposed and what is attainable as the program progresses.
Benefits Reporting: Reporting of metrics related to the identified-benefits (‘actual versus
planned’) is provided to the Governance body in accordance with the plan, facilitating
accountability of performance of new systems in place, as deliverables and outcomes of the
program are getting realized.
The final review and evaluation of benefits should ideally be completed after the business
transformation has fully completed and changes are embedded into the subsequent operations,
as ‘business as usual’. This is can take several months after a system ‘go-live’.
The following section explains the BSC from a middle-out approach to designing score cards.
3. BSC design – the ‘Middle out’
There are cases in literature (Alleman, 2003), where BSC was used as a pure Project
Management element, complementing the traditional project management and control
mechanism. But the design of BSC was attempted from a top down approach. Goold et al.
(1994), describe three types of ‘Parenting Styles’, viz. strategic planning, strategic control and
financial control, for the roles and responsibilities between corporate and organisational units.
These types of styles also influence the role the corporate would adopt in the design and usage
of BSC across corporate and business units (De Waal, 2007). Usually for large programs, we can
adopt a method that has parallel to ‘strategic control’ style, wherein the corporate (the Program
Vision, in this case) would influence the design of scorecard, but it would be the Business
Benefits Plan that would influence the usage of it.
When a program gets sanctioned, the program sponsor, steering committee, business
stakeholders and the program and project managers go through the Benefits Management steps
(Identify, Analyse, Plan) to develop a Straw Model, Metrics and their BSC relationships and thus,
a first cut BSC for the program, much akin to a Corporate BSC is arrived at.
In this approach, the program core team would work out multiple iterations, to arrive at individual
scorecards across the individual projects (re-using many prevailing project measures) and
connecting them to the Program BSC, to arrive at a consensus that is aligned with the proposed
Benefits metrics. One would be able to retain many measures that can be used at individual
project teams’ level, while choosing the ones that would get ‘aggregated’ at program level
Benefits scorecard. Thus, program Benefits Realization expectations (metrics) were typically
‘cascaded’ downwards as BSC measures (from Program Benefits BSC to Projects Teams’
Delivery – Benefits BSC), while re-using typical project delivery measures for ‘aggregating’
3.1.Characteristics of BSC design – the ‘Middle out’
The design process is typically recursive at each time when a new project team is added to the
program portfolio and / or when the Program Benefits or Business case is changed due to
unexpected events; and that the participating project team contributes to the BSC Benefits BSC
design more, by way of carrying forward their set of existing measures. Thus we would prefer to
call the design approach the ‘Middle-out’, compared to top down mode of designing scorecards.
The following steps would describe the process of this design approach:
1. Start-up / or from a previous steady state phase: Existing islands of projects in the Program
portfolio, (with Identified & Analysed Benefits, independent Service Level Agreements (SLA), Key
Performance Indicators (KPI) and measures) focus on their operational efficiency, project
management and control, besides monitoring for Risk management and Benefits Management.
2. Coalescence phase: When a new program is sanctioned, driven by the program vision and goals,
coalescence comes into play. The steps in this phase are -
1. Select pilot projects that have similar and comparable SLAs and KPIs and Delivery
2. Derive ‘tactical themes’ as opposed to Corporate Strategic Themes. (The example is –
Project Delivery Benefits as opposed to Program Vision BSC).
3. Develop Strategy Map and the Benefits Straw Map from the new Delivery Benefits goals
and the identified program benefits to derive the new set of Benefits measures.
4. Assign targets with tolerance ranges (Green / Amber / Red) for the finalized measures
that would drive the projects’ and program goals to fruition.
5. Analyse new risk/impediments profiles and mitigation plans.
6. Derive the new governance model, Benefits Straw Model and Metrics; get approval for
3. Communication Phase: Publish the Program performance and Benefits Scorecard to
stakeholders and draw up communication and change management plans. (Town hall meetings,
Training, Kiosks for Demonstrations, etc. as required).
4. Implementation Phase: Go Live and monitor. (Closure / start steady state phase)
5. Iterate from ‘Coalescence’, when new projects join.
The following figure (Fig. 2) depicts the design elements.
Fig 2: Strategy Maps for BSC Design Middle-Out
We can compare the traditional Balanced Scorecard approach (the first generation) with the
middle-out approach in the following way (Table 1).
BSC Top Down BSC Middle-Out
Starts at Organizational top;
Corporate Vision driven SLAs / KPI
Focus on Customer – Vendor
Relationship, Portfolio / Program
Objectives; Benefits driven SLAs
Long Term planned (3-5 years) Short Term focused (1-2 years)
Start from Financial goals
(Perspective) and derive other
Perspectives. Identify Strategic
Initiatives (as relevant).
Start from Customer Expectations on
Portfolio & program Benefits and
distribute Delivery metrics and SLAs
across relevant BSC Perspectives
Usually top-down approach to BSC ‘Middle-out’ design’; iterative process of
top-down (from Portfolio Benefits and
design SLAs) and bottom-up, where the
quantum of contribution is more from
Projects’ level (Delivery Benefits and
operational parameters for arriving at
measures and targets).
Strategy Maps are enablers for
BSC design; they validate the
Strategy Maps and Benefits Straw maps
drive the design.
Changes to Dash board measures
are generally minimal at Corporate
Flexible to changes to measures or their
targets both at Projects’ level and at
‘Internal Processes’ Perspective of
Table 1: Comparison of BSC Design approaches
Thus, the Program Benefits Scorecard can evolve from the relationship to individual projects’
level BSCs easily. Also, the scorecard structure (parent – children scorecards) can be extended
to more projects / changed Business Cases, at different ‘coalescence’ phases, as the maturity of
Benefits Management in the program organization grows.
For the purpose of monitoring performance, as well for the purpose of rewards recognition, the
individual measures can be given ‘weights’ (though, during the time of piloting, the weights can be
set to a value of 1) and their performance deviation can be measured at regular intervals. The
individual measures’ performance values can then aggregated for specific BSC (4) perspectives,
as well as at individual scorecard levels. Thus we would have various ‘weighted performance of
measures’, which are called Performance Indices (PI) on the scorecards. This idea can help the
program in a significant way, by comparing PIs across various perspectives, across scorecards
as well as across individual teams.
Thus Benefits Realization can be monitored through a set of ‘lead’ and ‘lag’ measures across
various projects that make up the program, while PIs can also help in identifying the cause-and-
4. Recommendation for BSC Implementation
The launch preparation phase would typically last about 4 weeks, when internal marketing
campaign should be conducted. The project teams, project and program manager(s), and the
program core team would then freeze the scorecard elements (that include the benefits’
measures, negotiated targets and their target deviation zones) and address the program
roadblocks and issues. The key elements for scripting a success story of Program Benefits BSC
implementation are the town hall meetings with individual teams and stakeholders, content-rich
collaterals for internal marketing purposes and self-running demonstration kits from the program
portal for the user groups.
In the final mode of governance, we should superpose the new Benefits BSC based program
review, while retaining the existing delivery performance review mechanisms at the Program /
Project level, wherever required. This would help the program to track important program specific
benefits’ measures, while facilitating the need-driven data drill down at individual projects’ level.
Also more importantly, the adoption of BSC dashboard would facilitate better corporate
communication on business, program and project specific audiences, while parallel tracking the
Benefits metrics for their performance.
5. Some closing thoughts
Our focus in this paper has been that BSC dashboard will be the link in corporate communication
amongst business, IT-program and IT-project teams that have both delivery based and benefits
based BSC metrics, given the importance of tracking the program goals through their benefits.
Given below (Fig. 3) is an example of Program BSC (for the sake of confidentiality, we have
masked the actual numbers; data points from April-09 onwards were re-constructed for display).
Fig 3: BSC Program scorecard
Sr # Performance Measure Unit KPI Target Frequency Apr '09
1 TCO Savings (Direct / Indirect) $ N Half yearly
2 Sprint Burnup rate $ Y Monthly
Customer 0.80 0.80 0.80
3 Customer Satisfaction Index (Overall) % Y 90% Half yearly 84% 84% 84%
4 CSI - Most important parameters rated low % Y 10% Half yearly 50% 11% 11%
CSI - Most important Service & Business Goals
parameters rated high
% Y 80% Half yearly 86% 86% 86%
6 Customer Appreciations # N Monthly 8 9 6
7 Customer Complaints # N Monthly 0 0 3
8 Quality of Service (from annual survey) # N Yearly
Process & Delivery 0.54 0.54 0.66
9 Post Delivery Defects # Y 5 Monthly 2 4 4
10 Sprint review Meeting attendance % Y 100% Monthly 100 100 90
11 Monthly Governance % Y 100% Monthly 33% 67% 60%
12 Velocity (per Sprint) (Total) # Y 15 Monthly 14 14 14
13 Velocity (per Sprint) (per Scrum team) # Y 3 Monthly 3 3 3
14 Burn down deviation (per Sprint) % Y 5% Monthly 8.0% 8.0% 9.0%
15 SLA compliance to response time (Resources SLA) % Y 95% Monthly 99.7% 99.6% 99.4%
16 SLA compliance to resolution time (Resources SLA) % Y 95% Monthly 97.0% 96.6% 96.7%
Learning, People & Competency 0.40 0.90 0.90
17 Compliance to minimum competency level % Y 100% Monthly 80% 80% 80%
18 Unplanned Attrition in critical phases # Y 0 Monthly 1 0 0
19 Upload activity of assets into KM system # N Monthly 0 0 0
20 Reference activity of assets in KM system # N Monthly 0 0 0
Portfolio Performance Index 0.58 0.58 0.72
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