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The British University in Dubai

Aligning Projects to
Strategy
through the Balanced
Scorecard

September
2012
Author: Ibrahim
Awad

t
nagement

MSc in Project Managemen


e
r
Project, Programme and Portfolio

0|Page

Ma

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Gardin

MGT502 Project, Programme and Portfolio Management

Student ID 120061

Contents
1. Introduction
.........................................................................................................................................
.2
2. Research
Aim...................................................................................................................................
...... 2
3. Research Objectives
.............................................................................................................................. 2
4. Literature review
................................................................................................................................... 2
4.1.
Background
.......................................................................................................................................
2
4.2.
Project Management
........................................................................................................................ 3
4.3.
Strategy
Management....................................................................................................................
... 4
4.4.
The Balanced Scorecard
(BSC)........................................................................................................... 4
4.5.
Projects-Strategy Alignment Challenges
........................................................................................... 8
4.6.
Projects-Strategy Alignment using BSC
............................................................................................. 9
4.6.1.
Alignment and Cascading Objectives, Measures and Targets
..................................................... 10
4.6.1.1. Cascading Methods
..................................................................................................................... 10
4.6.1.2. Alignment and Cascading to Sub Business Units (SBU) and its
Departments............................. 11
4.6.1.3. Alignment and Cascading to Support Units and its Departments
.............................................. 12
4.6.1.4. Alignment and Cascading to External Partners
........................................................................... 12
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4.6.1.5. Alignment and Cascading to Employees


..................................................................................... 12

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4.6.2.
Initiatives Alignment
................................................................................................................... 14
4.7.
Analyzing the BSC Alignment approach
.......................................................................................... 14
4.8.
Suggestions and Recommendations
............................................................................................... 16
5. Future Research
.................................................................................................................................. 17
6.
References.......................................................................................................................
.................... 17

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1. Introduction
Over the past twenty years, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) was referenced by
many organizations as the key for their strategic advances over their
competitors by successfully implementing the BSC to align the Organizational
Strategy with its Operations. (Frigo, 2012).
The projects are considered the backbone of the strategy execution of any
organization, therefore, it is important to address how the Balanced Scorecard
(BSC)

manages

and

ensures

that

these

project

components

are

implementable and aligned to strategy.

2. Research Aim
This research will explore the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) techniques that
facilitate appropriate alignment of the requested projects with the
organizational strategy. The research will try also to highlight the pros and
cons of BSC approach in order to enlighten the future enhancements for the
BSC and its alignment techniques.

3. Research Objectives
The research will try to achieve the following objectives:
1- Highlight the key concepts of the Balanced Scorecard and the links to
Strategy Management, Operations Management, Project Management and
Portfolio Management.
2- Review the literature about the Projects-Strategy Alignment challenges
3- Review and assess the BSC approach to align Project to Strategy

4. Literature review
4.1.

Background

An increasing number of ogaizatios nowadays use the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) to


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ensure that the strategic objectives are well communicated to stakeholders and that
to identify the measures and targets for these objectives in addition to the projects
and activities that enable the strategy. (Rankins 2006).

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Moreover, several methodologies and frameworks exist in the project management


profession, such as PMIs PMBoK ad OGCs PRINCE; that are concerned to increase
the project success rates and the efficiency of the projects delivery. (Rankins 2006).
However, frameworks addressing strategy management cannot ensure that the
identified projects are implementable, and frameworks addressing the project
management cannot ensure that the existing projects are aligned with the
organizations strategy. (Rankins 2006).
The research is concerned to highlighted how the balanced scorecard address these
issues to ensure that organizational strategy components are implementable and
aligned to the strategy.

4.2.

Project Management

The project Management is defined by (PMI, 2008, p. 6) as the appliatio of


koledge, skills, tools, and tehiues to pojet atiities to eet the pojet euieets,
is defined by (APM, 2012, p. 14) as the process by which projects are defined,
planned, monitored, controlled and delivered such that the agreed benefits are
realised., and is defined by the (BS 6079-1, 201, p. as the plaig, monitoring and
control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it to
achieve the pojet ojeties o tie ad to the speified ost, ualit, ad pefoae.
In fact, all the above definitions focus on delivering the projects to meet the
objectives or the requirements, so what are these requirements and objectives,
where do they come from? (PMI, 2008) explained that project get authorized to
meet one or more of the following strategic considerations/objectives: Market
demand, Business Need, Customer Request, Technological Advance and Legal
Requirements.
Project Management by itself focuses on the successful completion of the project
work, and then gets transferred to operations for implementation (PMI, 2008).
Operations management should ensure that the delivered work meets or should be
operated to meet the strategic considerations or requirements.
As stated above, these are strategic considerations and requirements, so we will
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explore about Strategy Management, before indulging into the purpose of the
research that is mainly about how projects will be aligned with strategy.

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4.3.

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Strategy Management

The Strategic planning definition is aligned with the project management definition
(Gardiner, 2005);
therefore, we need to understand what Strategy means.
The liteatue eie laified to us that thee is o stadad defiitio of the od Strategy,
ut ost definitions agree on its components, and this was also emphasized by
(Levine, 2005). Effective strategy architecture as explained by (Kaplan & Norton,
2010) consists of: Mission, Core Values and Vision, then Strategy can be developed
and evolve by responding to changes occur over time; Strategy also considers
making a change to the current situation to a desirable future situation. (Kaplan &
Norton, 2010).
Strategy Management considers managing more than one area, as it includes:
Strategy Analysis, Strategy
Formation, Strategy Formulation and Strategy Implementation.
There are many strategy frameworks and methodologies that were built to manage
the Strategy and its processes; the famous one that has been showing progressive
success recently is the Balanced Scorecard (BSC).

4.4.

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC)

A Visionary Strategy cannot be implemented if it is not aligned with excellent


operations (Kaplan & Norton 2008), Projects are the backbone of the Strategy
Implementation, and Project Management is the key to bridge the gap between
what is written in the Strategy and what is executed on the ground (Levine, 2005).
The Balanced Scorecard claims that it helps align Strategy to both Operations and
Projects (Kaplan & Norton, 2008).
(Kaplan & Norton 1996) has explained that the Balanced Scorecard concept is based
on balancing the financial and non-financial measures and balancing the short and
long term objectives, while presenting them in a simple presentation as a soead
hih is laeled as Balaed oead.
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They also detailed the BSC to have four perspectives:


1- The Financial Perspective

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Typically relate to profitability by measuring operating income or return on


investment.
2The
Perspective

Customer

Identify the customer and market segments that are important to compete in.
3The Internal Business Process
Perspective
Identify the internal processes that the organization should improve and excel.
4The Learning and Growth
Perspective
Identify the competencies and capabilities that the organization must develop to
ensure long term competitive advantage.
They also highlighted that the Strategic Objectives will be described under each
perspective, and then measures will be defined for each Strategic Objective, and a
Target will be set for each measure; after that the organization will identify the
Initiatives that will achieve each set target.
The BSC will look something like the
diagram 1 below:
Perspective
Customer

Strategic
Objectives
(SO)
SO-C1

Measures

Targets

Initiatives

SO-C1-M1

SO-C1-M1-T1

Initiative01
Initiative02

SO-C2

SO-C1-M2

SO-C1-M2-T2

Initiative03
Initiative04

Financial

SO-F1

SO-F1-M3

SO-F1-M3-T3

Initiative05

SO-F2

SO-F2-M4

SO-F2-M4-T4

Initiative06

Internal
Business
Process

SO-I1

SO-I1-M5

SO-I1-M5-T5

Initiative07

SO-I2

SO-I2-M6

SO-I2-M6-T6

Initiative08

Learning and
Growth

SO-L1

SO-L1-M7

SO-L1-M7-T7

Initiative09
Initiative10
Initiative11

Diagram 1.0: Indicative Balanced Scorecard adapted from the concepts explained by

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(Kaplan & Norton 1996)

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To complement the BSC execution, they have introduced the Strategy Map concept
which describes the value creation process by linking the objectives across the four
perspectives in the BSC, see figure 1.0.

Figure 1.0: Describing the Strategy: The Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map (Kaplan &
Norton 2001, p.96)

Linking Strategy to operations has been detailed in (Kaplan & Norton, 2008), as
they have built a Management System for Integrating Strategy Planning and
Operational Execution that consists of six major stages see figure 2.0:
1- Develop the Strategy
This includes developing the Mission, Values and Vision through Strategy analysis
and formulation.
2- Plan the Strategy
This includes identifying the measures, targets and initiatives that can achieve
the identified mission and vision, and is grouped and represented through themes
and Strategy Maps. Secure strategy funding is also done here.
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3- Align the Organization with the Strategy


The ogaizatios BC should the e aliged ad asaded to the Busiess Uits ad
the Supporting Service Units and down to the Employee, so that each unit or
employee will have a BSC that measures their performance (Kaplan & Norton
1996), the details of the cascading and alignment will be covered in section 4.6.
4- Plan Operations
This includes the introduction of key process improvements to cope with the
strategic measures and targets.
5- Monitor and Learn
The execution is monitored for feedback and better control through Strategy
review and Operating review meetings.
6- Test and Adapt the Strategy
Based on the execution performance and the feedback gathered, the emerging
strategies will get the chance to be considered.

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Figure 2.0: The Management system: Linking Strategy to Operations (Kaplan &
Norton 2008, p.8)

4.5.

Projects-Strategy Alignment Challenges

Milosevic & Srivannaboon (2006), Werner & Fuyuan (2012) and Hicks & Moseley
(2011) highlighted the key challenges that face organization while they try to
align projects to strategy:
1. Project management processes are not aligned with strategy execution
processes.
2. Projects get started and get terminated without strategic infuence, but
mainly based on resources availability.
3. Projects get treated equally and their strategic weight and impact is not
considered.
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4. Project-level goals do not represent the essence of the strategic


objectives such as speed to market and may dissolve among other
project constraints.
5. Project teams may not understand the strategic value of the project and its
context in the
organizational strategy, and may not feel the importance of their roles in
Strategy execution.
6. Projects are grouped in programs and portfolios in a way that do not match
with the Strategy execution, monitoring and reporting.

4.6.

Projects-Strategy Alignment using BSC

In order to understand the alignment of projects with the organization strategy, we


have to remember what we mentioned earlier in that the projects are concerned to
meet the agreed requirement or objectives; therefore, we need to ensure that these
objectives that the project is undertaken to accomplish are aligned with the
organizations BSC strategic objectives, measures and targets. Once this alignment
is confirmed, we will then discuss how to align the suggested initiatives or projects to
the cascaded strategic objectives, measures and targets. Afterwards, an extra step
may be performed, which is creating a BSC for each project to ensure that the project
itself is contributing to the four BSC perspectives, and that will be maintained
throughout the project life cycle to report project
performance.

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Figure 3.0: Alignment Value: Enterprise Derived and Customer Derived (Palladium
2012, Chapter 3 p. 8)

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4.6.1. Alignment and Cascading Objectives, Measures


and Targets
4.6.1.1. Cascading Methods
As described in Figure 3.0, and as detailed in the (Palladium, 2012), the Cascading
methods are of 3 types

Identical

The Identical cascading method is used when the corporate BSC strategy objectives
are the same for the
Sub Business Units (SBU) and this is usually when they are operationally similar.

Contributory

The Contributory cascading method is used when some of the SBU BSC strategy
objectives contribute to the corporate BSC, but they are not identical.

New

The New cascading method is used when some of the SBU BSC strategy objectives
were not applicable or linked to the corporate BSC.

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Figure 4.0: Cascade Methods Overview (Palladium
2012, Chapter 3 p. 23)

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4.6.1.2. Alignment and Cascading to Sub Business


Units (SBU) and its
Departments
Despite the method that will be used whether (Identical, Contributing or New), the
Corporate BSC needs to be cascaded down to all its Sub Business Units (BSU) and
then to the departments within each SBU, and then to smaller organizational units if
needed (Palladium, 2012). Figure 4.0 illustrates a possible seaio of a asadig
eeise fo Copoate BC to BUs BC the to Depatets BC ad fiall
to Sub-Depatets BC; oiousl, all asadig ethods ould e used at a leel of
asadig.

Figure 5.0: Illustration of the Cascading methods usage in Cascading


Corporate BSC to SBU and its departments. Inspired from (Palladium,
2012).

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4.6.1.3. Alignment and Cascading to Support Units


and its
Departments
Historically, Support units were treated as expense centers that are typical
overhead departments and their objective is always set to reduce their operating
expenses (Kaplan & Norton, 2008).
Palladium (2012), highlighted major benefits returned from BSC Alignment on SBU and
Support Unit:
Same language/terminology
Clarity of strategic direction
Easil udestood ad defiitie lie of sight
Since the Support Units serve the BUs ad oside the as Custoes, the all the
BUs tategi Objectives in the Learning and growth perspective will be in the
Customer Perspective for the Support Unit, and this can be considered as a major
straight away benefit, as the BUs satisfaction will be part of the uppot Uits
stategi pefoae easueets Kapla & Noto, 8. These easueets can be
detailed in a separate Service Level Agreement (Palladium, 2012).

4.6.1.4. Alignment and Cascading to External


Partners
External Partners usually include: Customers, Suppliers and the Board of Directors
(BOD). Alignment with third party usually takes the form of an SLA. The BOD
alignment usually focus on the timeline and it is important to be done for timely
communications and approvals and for defining the roles of the BOD
and what they need from the Organization (Kaplan & Norton 2001).

4.6.1.5. Alignment and Cascading to Employees


The Personal BSC helps i akig the tateg Eeods jo ad helps i eatig the
lie of sight hih ill assist the eploee to ase: Ho do I suppot the tateg?
Palladiu, . Kaplan & Norton 2012, suggest that a performance model should
be created to bridge the gap between what the Strategy Suggests in its 3
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perspectives (Financial, Customer and Internal) and

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what the organization lacks in terms of competencies and skills which should be
covered in the
Learning and Growth perspective; therefore, the Performance model and according
to the built

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Strategy Map will include the competencies required to achieve the Strategic
Targets set in the internal Perspective. Figure 6.0 provides an example of the
Performance Model.

Figure 6.0: Building the Performance Model-Manufacturing Example


(Palladium 2012, Chapter 3 p. 88) Based on the competencies identified in

the Performance model, the Personal BSC will include linkage to the Business
Scorecards and will link set the Personal Objectives according to the developed
performance model. Figure 7.0 provides a template for a personal Scorecard.

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Figure 7.0: Personal Scorecard Template (Palladium 2012, Chapter 3 p. 101)

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4.6.2. Initiatives Alignment


Kapla ad Noto 8, p. defie the tategi Iitiaties as the olletio of fiiteduration disetioa pojets ad pogas, outside the ogaizatios da-to-day
operational activities, that are designed to help the organization achieve its tageted
pefoae. They also defined an Initiative Management process model that consists
of 3 processes:
1- Choose Strategic Initiatives
The objective of this process is to identify the group of projects and programs
needed to bridge each of the performance gaps.
In order to achieve the objective of the process, the following steps are also
described by (Kaplan & Norton, 2008):
a- Propose initiatives (projects and programs) for each strategy map or
objective, and link it to the measures and targets.
b- Estimate the Budget for each initiative
c- Plot the ogaizatios suggested initiatives across against the Strategic
objectives to identify any initiative not linked to any objective, and to identify
any objective not supported by any
initiative.
d- Create an evaluation and selection criteria based on the business BSC
e- Score the initiatives against the criteria to rank them according to the criteria
2- Fund the Strategy
3- Establish Accountability

4.7.

Analyzing the BSC Alignment approach

Although Werner & Fuyuan (2012) concluded in their research that BSC assists
organizations to align projects to strategy and to successfully execute strategy, but
they have expressed that employees usually will do a little for strategy execution
because the employees will still believe that their daily routine actions do not help to
execute strategy. In fact, despite that employees may believe that their actions
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will execute strategy, but if their performance measures and targets are tied up with
strategy measures

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and targets, they will be act to achieve their appraisal performance targets, which
means that they work towards strategy execution.
Hicks & Moseley (2011) highlighted another important factor for successful projectstrategy alignment exercise, it is the availability of BSC Performance Improvement
practitioners, who support the strategy and facilitate adherence to the alignment;
therefore, in each project and implementation of every initiative, practitioners role
evolve to gain win-win solutions for the organization, divisions, departments and
individuals through guidance and continuous support.
In comparison to the alignment framework developed by Milosevic, D.Z. &
Srivannaboon (2006), it is found that their framework comes behind the BSC in one
element (The Cascading element), and leads the BSC in 3 elements (Scoring, Phase
Gates and Terminology). Their framework is just dependent on the alignment
between each project and the ogaizatios strategy without the cascading element to
be considered, on the other hand the BSC falls behind in the Projects Scoring as it
does not detail how the projects scoring will be done, while the Milosevic, D.Z. &
Srivannaboon (2006) alignment framework details the 6 PM elements (Strategy,
Organization, process, Tools, Metrics and Culture) for scoring and weighting the
projects. The BSC also does not detail or enforce the Phase gates on project
management alignment, while Milosevic, D.Z. & Srivannaboon (2006) integrates that
in the alignment framework.
The terminology used in the BSC to represent the projects and programs as initiative
has created a confusion to align to the Project Management frameworks as each
element has a different methodology to be managed and to get it aligned, while the
BSC deals with both of them in the same manner and just call them initiatives.
In a good attempt to integrate the Enterprise Project Portfolio Management (EPPM)
System with the Balanced Scorecard to achieve the synergy and alignment between
the projects and the strategy, Kostelac, Vukomanovic & Ikonic (2012) have found that
managers in a projectized structure organization can benefit from the integrating
both models much more than implementing one of them to achieve appropriate
strategic control system for project-strategy alignment. Indeed, the BSC will need to
be supported by the integration with a Project management methodology in order to
ensure appropriate project-strategy alignment. Kaplan & Norton (2008) has realized
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the drawback of the original BSC in not addressing the portfolio management;
therefore, they have addressed the portfolio in the latest updates

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of the BC usig the te thee to epeset the olletio of iitiaties aoss diffeet
perspectives that aims to achieve strategic objectives which is mapped to the portfolio
definition.
The standard BSC approach in project-strategy alignment goes into one direction,
which is the alignment of the project objectives to the cascaded strategic objectives,
measures and targets; while Keyes (2011) has taken the BSC into new way of
thinking by implementing a balanced scorecard for each project during its project life
cycle, which made an extra favor of the BSC in the project management area.
Ward & Peppard (2001) have used the BSC along with the Critical Success
Factors (CSF) Analysis to provide more comprehensive IT objectives, as they
said:
The Balanced Scorecard links measures to business objectives, while CSF
analysis identifies what is critical to achieving results. Together, both techniques
provide rigorous assessment of prioritized IS opportunities, given the current
business strategy.
I fat, Kapla & Noto hae itodued the oept Etepise Value Popositio i thei
ook
Aliget to play similar role to the CSF that was used with the BSC in Ward & Peppard
(2011) book.

4.8.

Suggestions and Recommendations

The Balanced Scorecard is a strong tool for strategy implementations and has
many proven successes in many organizations, but there were many challenged
implementations in many other organizations; therefore, it is not necessary to
achieve successful strategy alignment across the organization and its projects if
the Balanced Scorecard is used. It is recommended that each organization ensures
to use appropriate project management framework to collaborate and
integrate with the Balanced Scorecard at the time and level of Strategy Formulation
and Strategic
Planning to overcome the projects-strategy alignment challenges.
It is suggested that the Balanced Scorecard to be enhanced to ensure the
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alignment with existing well established project management practices and


terminology.

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5. Future Research
The usage of the Balanced Scorecard has increased significantly in the UAE
organizations especially governmental organizations. Some of them have major
successes and they appear in the past few years in the whole-of-fame that registers
successful implementations of BSC world-wide.
To the best knowledge of the researcher, there were no researches that address
the projects-strategy alignment through the Balanced Scorecard in the UAE
organizations. It will be an interesting topic of research that may consider
qualitative and quantitative techniques.

6. References
th

APM (2012), Body of Knowledge. 6 edn. High Wycombe: Association for Project
Management.
BS 6079-1 (2010). Project Management Part 1: Project management. Principles
and guidelines for the management of projects, Milton Keynes: British Standard
Institution.
Frigo, M.L. (2012). The Balanced Scorecard: 20 Years and Counting. Strategic
Finance. October, pp. 49-53. Gardiner, P. D., 2005. Project Management: A Strategic
Planning Approach, New York: Palgrave.
Hicks, K. & Moseley, J. (2011). Developing and executing strategy: Using the
balanced scorecard for alignment and accountability. Performance
Improvement, vol. 50(8), pp. 41-47.
Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 1996. The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy
into Action, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 2001. The Strategy Focused Organization: How
Balanced Scorecard companies thrive in the new Business Environment,
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Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

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Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 2004. Strategy Maps: Converting intangible assets into
tangible outcomes, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

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Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 2006. Alignment: Using the Balanced Scorecard to
create Corporate
Synergies, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P., 2008. The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to
Operations for
Competitive Advantage, Boston: Harvard Business Press.
Keyes, J. (2011). Implementing the Project Management Balanced Scorecard, Boca
Raton: CRC Press. Kostelac, D., Vukomanovic, M. & Ikonic, M. (2012). Integrating
Enterprise Project POrtfolio Management
with the Balanced Scorecard: a Case from the Pharmaceutical industry. Technical
Gazette, vol. 19(2), pp.
202-316.
Levine, H. A., 2005. Project Portfolio Management: A Practical Guide to selecting
Projects, Managing
Portfolios, and maximizing benefits, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Milosevic, D.Z. & Srivannaboon, S. (2006). A Theoretical Framework for aligning
Project Management with Business Strategy. Project Management Journal, vol.
37(3), pp. 98-110.
Palladium, 2012. Palladium Kaplan-Norton Balanced Scorecard Certification Boot
Camp, Palladium Group
Inc.
PMI (2008), A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK
th

Guide). 4 edn. Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute.


Rankins, G.J. (2006). Aligning Projects to Strategy using Balanced Scorecards and
Benefits Models. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Project
Management on 29 September 2006, in Sydney, Australia.
rd

Ward, J. & Peppard, J. (2002). Strategic Planning for Information Systems. 3 edn. West
Sussex: John
Willey & Sons.
Werner, M. & Fuyuan, X. (2012). Executing Strategy with the Balanced Scorecard.
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International Journal

Of Financial Research, vol. 3(1), pp. 88-94.

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