Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

A Balanced Scorecard Template for Tech Transfer Offices

Editor’s note: Establishing and tracking useful metrics is part of what we do here at Fuentek. For more on using the Balanced Scorecard approach to tracking technology transfer performance, download Fuentek’s white paper “How’d We Do?: Establishing Useful Technology Transfer Metrics.” Or contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help your office set — and meet — its goals.

In the early 1990’s, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton introduced the Balanced Scorecard—a novel approach to help organizations establish, track, and report on organizational performance objectives by defining a holistic set of goals. Still quite relevant today, over the past few decades this model has been adapted by numerous enterprises across many industries. The foundation of this methodology is built on four categories or “perspectives” that Kaplan and Norton defined to track results. These categories include:

Financial Perspective, including measures that indicate whether an organization is achieving key bottom-line results. For traditional commercial organizations, these metrics typically include profitability and revenue growth.

Customer Perspective, including measures that monitor the value proposition that an organization delivers to its target customers. Commercial organizations would typically enumerate goals that include market share, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

Internal Process Perspective, including measures that track how effectively an organization is performing. Enterprises often target the areas in which they are striving to excel to support their customers. Commercial organizations typically focus on quality and efficiency initiatives.

Learning and Growth Perspective, including measures on internal organizational investments to improve their performance in the other three areas. Commercial organizations may focus on internal employee satisfaction, staff turnover, training, and improvements in their overall bench strength.

While many of the leading examples of utilizing a Balanced Scorecard highlight Global 2000 commercial companies, this tool is just as effective within government and public service organizations, non-profit entities, and academic institutions, including Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs). The various perspectives that an organization will elect to monitor and measure are aligned with the overall vision, mission, and goals established by the enterprise.

In addition to being a widely accepted best practice for establishing and measuring progress towards enterprise goals, there are a number of benefits for using a Balanced Scorecard to increase the performance of your organization, including:

  • Helps to focus and align an entire organization on what must be accomplished to ensure the overall success of the enterprise
  • Translates overarching goals and objectives into tangible results that an organization aims to achieve over a set time period
  • Provides enterprise management with a comprehensive yet succinct view of the overall operation
  • Serves as a very effective communications vehicle to communicate performance results to all team members

Every organization will likely have a unique set of performance indicators that are usually modeled from a set of industry-accepted metrics as well as being directly aligned with the goals and objectives of their institution. For TTOs, that would typically include metrics on deals, industry collaborations, patent filings, invention disclosures, and outreach initiatives. If your organization is already following the Balanced Scorecard approach, it is advisable to align your Balanced Scorecard with your institution while using more granular goals to focus on your organization’s specific contributions to the overall mission and goals of the institution.

Through Fuentek’s research for our clients over the past decade, we have developed a set of standard metrics for TTOs and have adapted them to the Balanced Scorecard framework. Included below is a template for a TTO Balanced Scorecard. (Click the graphic to view a larger version.)

Once you have identified the key performance indicators for your organization, it is critical to implement a process and define roles and responsibilities to capture the metrics, review the results, and to proactively develop a corrective action plan to address shortfalls with any of your key measures. It is also advisable to incorporate relevant performance goals from your Balanced Scorecard into each staff members’ annual performance reviews. Institutionalizing a process with appropriate accountabilities and follow-through is an important ingredient to deliver positive results on a consistent basis.

You can implement the Balanced Scorecard methodology in your TTO with the following steps:

  1. Outline your plan to implement a Balanced Scorecard for your office.
  2. Conduct research on industry standard technology transfer key performance objectives and familiarize yourself with your current enterprise goals.
  3. Identify your organization’s performance indicators.
  4. Establish your annual target goals for each performance indicator.
  5. Implement a review, response, and communication process for your TTO Balanced Scorecard.

Have you implemented an annual goals and accomplishments reporting mechanism? Are you currently using a Balanced Scorecard approach for your TTO? If so, has it been effective in motivating and aligning your organization? Let us know how this approach is working for you with a comment below.

–By Jack Spain