How to prepare a balanced scorecard

Several posts have referred to balanced scorecards, but this one collects ideas for how to compile one (See my post of Aug. 24, 2006 with references cited.).

1. To start, catalog the metrics that you currently maintain about the performance of your law department. These could include budgets, staffing numbers, CLE activity, cases pending, and many more (See my post of Dec. 14, 2005 on a metrics manual compiled by BellSouth’s law department.).

2. Second, speak to your senior clients and ask them what metrics they feel would best portray the activities of the law department.

3. Where you do not keep metrics that clients feel would be insightful, figure out how to collect those metrics. Sometimes you may need to keep proxy metrics.

4. Select out of the candidate metrics a set of metrics that are key for your department. Perhaps you can find benchmark data that will allow you to match your numbers against those of peer companies (See my post of Jan. 14, 2007 on weaknesses of casual benchmarking.).

5. For each metric, decide on the direction you would like it to move – whether it should increase or decrease and by what percentage – and commit to that level of improved performance. For example, if you want to have more lawyers per admin, say something like “We want to move over three years from one admin for every three lawyers to one for every four-and-a-half lawyers.”

6. Think through what you need to do to move in the direction your balanced scored indicates.

7. Decide how you would like to convey the metrics on a dashboard (See my post of Aug. 24, 2006 on dashboards compared to reports.).

8. Finally, after you have published and pursued your balanced scorecard for a year or more, revisit it and think how to improve every aspect of it (See my post of Nov. 16, 2005 on kaizen, which means continuous improvement.).

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