Public School District Balanced Scorecard

Case Study:

Public School District Balanced Scorecard

Project Mission and Background

Our client is a large urban school district in a major U.S. city.  A new Chief Information Officer (CIO) was tasked with reestablishing the mission, vision, and successfully delivering current and new services to the students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The CIO was seeking ways to integrate IT and business strategy with the current portfolio of Information Technology Department (ITD) projects. Balanced Scorecard is the method that was chosen to facilitate these improvements.



The ITD portfolio of projects represented a disjointed mix representing various IT applications and departmental desires that had been shaped by various written and unwritten governance processes and federal, state, and local rules and regulations. The project portfolio was not traceable to the higher level mission statements of No Child Left behind (NCLB) and the State’s implementation of the Federal standard. The reason for each project was not explicitly stated, so silos of demand and supply developed over time to address the needs of students, facility and administrators.

Our Approach

Our Balanced Scorecard effort developed the strategic initiatives needed for baseline services to ‘keep the lights on.’ These included back office operations, student services, instructional services, transportation, and compliance functions for NCLB. It then addressed the strategic initiatives required to improve the delivery of services and facilitate improved stakeholder capabilities using ITD services.


Before building the Balanced Scorecard, an understanding of how a Balanced Scorecard is built was needed. Using examples of prior scorecards, the elements of a credible IT scorecard and the motivations for a minimal set of strategic initiatives was explained.


The resulting Strategy Map, developed from past successes, established the first version. Edits, updates, and conversations about the individual and groups of initiatives were performed in the first two weeks. With this information, strategies were flowed to the individual departments to connect the dots between District and ITD strategy and the projects that delivered on that strategy.


Successful scorecards connect Strategic Initiatives, Goals, Critical Success Factors, Key Performance Indicators, and projects that will achieve these Goals. The Strategy Map was supported by individual deployment cards whose contents mapped to the CIO’s personal and department goals and objectives as well as the district’s Master Plan and the Strategic IT Plan, all traceable to NCLB requirements.  


The resulting Strategy Map and scorecards for each initiative were decomposed for each IT department providing line of sight accountability from the Office of the CIO to department managers and their Goals, CSFs, and KPIs. Cascading the scorecards ensures line of sight visibility from top to bottom in the ITD in units of measure meaningful to the decision makers.

Direct Benefits




-Translate ITD Master Plan and the District’s Master Plan into a single set of strategic initiatives.

-These initiatives were flowed into a set of Goals, Critical Success Factors, and Key Performance Indicators needed to measure the performance in units meaningful to the decision makers.

-Line of sight visibility from the Office of the CIO to department managers, providing direct measures of performance and effectiveness of services to the consumers of these IT services. The value of IT is now visible and shared by all stakeholders.

-Identify each strategic initiative with measureable goals and their indicators.

-All work activities of the ITD have clear and concise reasons for existing; one that is shared by all stakeholders.

-Measureable outcomes are available to all participants, removing the silos of performance measures and unifying the ITD into a single cohesive team focused on serving the needs of the customers of IT as well as the compliance needs of the District.

-Cascade each scorecard initiative to the department level through the individual scorecards of the department managers.

-Each department leader now has a shared set of outcomes and measures with the Office of the CIO used for department performance measurement.

-Each person working in the ITD can say ‘why I am here’ and further state ‘these are the measures of my department’s success and these measures are directly traceable to the success of the district.’



Our approach to Balanced Scorecard identified operational performance issues in the ITD and established the foundation for project portfolio management needed to deliver measureable value to the stakeholders. The Strategy Map that was developed served as a visible indicator of the connection between strategic initiatives and their goals, and the work efforts needed to implement those initiatives. These Critical Success Factors become the tangible evidence of the performance of these strategic initiatives and established a cause and effect connection between strategy and execution. Cascading these processes to the IT departments provided traceability from execution at the project level to fulfillment of strategic objectives, thereby positioning the new CIO and ITD for success going forward.



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