Discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of the balanced scorecard have made it clear that financial results are no longer enough to run a company successfully. The key argument against this is that financial metrics track events that have already taken place. Their suitability for managing a business is limited because they are the consequence, rather than the cause, of management control. In the words of Kaplan and Norton: They are trailing indicators. Controlling should, however, use leading indicators. From our experience of the balanced scorecard, we know which indicators Kaplan and Norton had in mind: They viewed performance indicators from the perspectives of learning and growth, business process, customer, and market. These indicators have in common that they are all non-financial, although they have a strong influence on the classic financial metrics. If controllers want to help managers run the business successfully, they cannot simply ignore them.
The feed-forward metrics are measured in different dimensions: cycle time, market share, customer satisfaction, service grade, contract termination rates – this heterogeneous list could go on and on. The reason for this is simple: The feed-forward metrics reflect the very diverse strategies for success adopted by the various business areas. Anyone wanting to filter out the reasons for financial success and use these as a basis for management control, must know precisely how that particular business works, what the levers to improve it are, and where to start in order to be successful in the long term.