Using the "Balanced Scorecard" business model as a tool for ranch management can help producers "balance" different competing aspects of a ranch. That's the idea behind a new publication from South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMU-K).

"Using the Balanced Scorecard for Ranch Planning and Management: Setting Strategy and Measuring Performance" is available online at: It's written by Barry Dunn, executive director of TAMU-K's King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, in cooperation with SDSU Extension personnel Roger Gates, Jack Davis and Agustin Arzeno.

The publication introduces the "Balanced Scorecard" model developed by Robert Kaplan of the Harvard Business School and David Norton, and used by thousands of global companies and small businesses since the early 1990s.

Rather than analyze financial records alone, which are only capable of telling of past events, the Balanced Scorecard model also takes into account factors such as customer relationships, ranch processes and investment in family members and in employees' learning and growth.

The publication walks ranchers through the process of defining the vision for the operation and outlining strategies to fulfill that vision. It identifies "perspectives" or basic components critical to the business operation, such as financials, livestock production, natural resources, customer service, lifestyle and education. It identifies measures for tracking progress, and creates action plans to achieve goals. It also evaluates performance to determine if goals are being met and if progress in reaching the vision is being made.
-- Lance Nixon, SDSU