The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is an approach to performance measurement introduced by Dr. Robert Kaplan and Dr. David Norton of Havard Business School in 1992. The approach combines traditional financial measures with nonfinancial ones that drive business outcomes, so that organizations focus on the future and act in their long-term best interest. The BSC approach also involves a strategic management system enabling managers to focus on the important performance metrics that drive success and balances the financial perspective with customer, process, and employee perspectives. The BSC helps overcome some weaknesses of previous management approaches and provides a clear prescription of what should be measured to link individual, department, and overall performance with company strategy.
Kaplan and Norton suggest that we view organizations from the four perspectives shown in the figure below and develop metrics, collect data, and analyze them relative to each of these perspectives.
Benchmarking is essentially a business excellence tool for finding, adapting, and implementing leading practices to achieve superior performance. It is a powerful performance management tool that can be used to generate both incremental change and wide-ranging strategic reform. Benchmarking is a learning process in which information, knowledge, and experience about leading practices are shared through partnerships between organizations. It allows an organization to compare itself with others and, in the process, step back from itself and reflect. Comparative measurement through benchmarks helps to identify problems and opportunities and also tests hypotheses and gut feelings about performance. Benchmarking offers an organization an opportunity to change and to improve.
Once desired benchmark levels are identified and the organization applies learning from partners to adapt and improve the targeted processes, it is important to understand that in time benchmark levels will rise and there will be a need to monitor process outcome performance to determine potential opportunities to improve as compared with partners with better performance.
Benchmarking will tell you how well you are performing, how good you need to be (it will give a practical vision), how to get there (a road map), and therefore help you to achieve your mission, vision, and goals. Benchmarking is not a cookbook process looking only at ingredients or numbers.
See also: Best Practices
“Best practice” describes the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that organizations can use for management, policy, and operation. It does not commit people or companies to one inflexible, unchanging practice. Instead, best practices are an approach based around continuous learning and continual improvement. There is no single type of best practices. Each organization is different in some ways in terms of mission, culture, factors affecting business, and stage of development. A best practice is any practice that works best to improve a situation.
See also: Benchmarking
Biofuel (bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas, etc.) is produced from renewable biological resources such as plant biomass, animal waste, and treated municipal and industrial waste. Crops used for the production of biofuels are called biofuel crops, for example, maize, rapeseed, canola, and soybeans. In Brazil, ethanol is extracted directly from sugarcane. India is promoting jatropha (Jatropha curcas) plantation for the production of biodiesel. Biodiesel crops should preferably target land that is less favorable for food crop production such as marginal land, salt-affected land, wasteland, etc. to avoid unwarranted competition with food production.
Biomass means organic resources from renewable biological origins, excluding fossil resources. In energy production and industry, biomass refers to living and recently living biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production. Most commonly, biomass refers to plant matter grown for use as biofuel, but also includes plant or animal matter used for the production of fibers, chemicals, or heat. It excludes organic material that has been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum. It is usually measured by dry weight.
Biomass was the main energy source for humans until the 19th century. In the 20th century, biomass was replaced by oil and coal, and then by natural gas and atomic energy. Biomass is renewable, available in vast reserves, carbon neutral, storable, and can substitute for oil.
See also: Biofuel Crops