Beyond the Balanced Scorecard

Mark Graham Brown, Productivity Press, 2007, 233 pp., $35 (book).

There are many data mining textbooks with statistical and analytical techniques and methods but few truly business oriented books with practical knowledge and cases. As a professor teaching data mining and business intelligence, Beyond the Balanced Scorecard: Improving Business Intelligence with Analytics is a welcome addition to those textbooks.

The scorecard approach is a good one for business analytics because readers can quantify results and see where data are lacking or nonexistent. The balanced scorecard technique is enhanced here in several ways: examining the tracking mechanisms for gathering the data, adding more meaningful metrics to the scorecard and looking at the external analytics that can enhance and increase business intelligence.

The author divides the book into business segments: the standard relationship management with customers; external metrics that should and can be quantified; the internal assets of the company; operational analytics; strategic and financial analytics important to the bottom line; and finally, how to put this together in a comprehensive tracking mechanism for performance management. There are also good examples from a variety of industrial areas included in the appendix.

As part of the description of better analytics, Brown also discusses some overused and—in his interpretation—worthless analytics and why some of these measures should be dropped.

This is not a book only aimed at the analytics expert or statistician. It is accessible to all levels of quality measurement and performance professionals. My recommendation to the author would be to expand this book to include more methods for gathering and analyzing the data analytics and perhaps turn this into a comprehensive business intelligence textbook.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

Business Process Management

Ralph F. Smith, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, 240 pp., $45 (book).

The balanced scorecard (BSC), developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, provides senior management with a method that translates strategic objectives into a meaningful set of performance measures. BSC has found its place as an enduring management tool and has proven to be more than a passing fad.

In Business Process Management and the Balanced Scorecard: Focusing Processes on Strategic Drivers, Smith successfully builds on the legacy of Kaplan and Norton by taking a narrower, process focused view of BSC.

He presents a planning tool similar to supplier-input-process-output-customer with feedback loops as the foundation of his strategic process. Through a series of business cases, Smith develops his strategic planning method in a manner clearly showing the value of such a process to any organization.

The author does a good job of providing the reader with both a refresher on BSC and a fresh view of the subject.

This book offers a how-to approach for those readers with knowledge of the subject, but is not meant as a primary resource for a BSC practitioner.

Tim Knight
Evergreen Park, IL

Six Sigma Best Practices

Dhirendra Kumar, J. Ross Publishing, 2006, 464 pp., $74.95 (book).

Kumar wrote Six Sigma Best Practices: A Guide to Business Process Excellence for Diverse Industries as a one-text-fits-all type of book. It’s designed as a resource for Six Sigma trainers, a textbook for graduate engineering and MBA professors teaching continuous improvement, and a primer for those preparing for Green Belt or Black Belt certifications. It makes a pretty good Six Sigma reference manual as well.

The book is generally laid out in the traditional five-step define, measure, analyze, improve, control order. However, Kumar begins by explaining when to use Six Sigma and why, what it is and how it relates to financial decision making. The author then introduces predefine stage topics such as project selection and proposal, project management, project charter and team selection. To help tie the financial side with the technical side Kumar strives to use common business language, standard statistical terms and Six Sigma vernacular throughout the book.

Although the Six Sigma tools are well covered, at 464 pages, some statistical tools might not be covered in great enough detail to use with confidence. Clearly, the author knows his statistics but the reader might need further explanation or research to understand and use some techniques properly.

I am pleased to add this book to my library of Six Sigma resources. The book is comprehensive and broadly applicable to virtually any manufacturing or nonmanufacturing application. Those new to Six Sigma might struggle with some of the advanced statistical techniques, but if used as a leader-led textbook it should fit nicely in any educational or preparatory setting.

James Kotterman
APL Logistics
Woodridge, IL

Actionable Performance Measurement

Marvin T. Howell, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 266 pp., $39 member, $65 list (book and CD-ROM).

Actionable Performance Measure-ment: A Key to Success provides methods and advice on how metrics and performance measures can be developed for strategic, tactical and business planning. The importance of actionable performance indicators to actively manage key processes and monitor the resulting organizational effectiveness is also highlighted.

This book is aimed at those beginning to structure and implement methods of measurement and tracking for business improvement or for those wanting to enhance their existing format. Howell offers guidance to what tools and techniques need to be used, how to structure and implement them, and how to create integration with an awareness of strategic and operational issues. He also includes detailed examples of their use.

The author also explains how metrics required for Baldrige, balanced scorecards or Six Sigma can be adopted and integrated. Assessment tools are provided for determining the current level of application and understanding. A CD including appendixes and a student workbook accompanies the book.

This book is easy to read as well as a good reference text or guide for even the seasoned quality manager.

Denis Leonard
Veridian Homes
Madison, WI

The Weibull Analysis Handbook

Bryan Dodson, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 167 pp., $54 member, $90 list (book and CD-ROM).

The second edition of The Weibull Analysis Handbook provides readers with a quick reference to the Weibull distribution, its origin, characteristics and applications. This book also provides software in an accompanying CD to help facilitate the calculations discussed in the book.

The short list of chapter titles reveals that the book focuses on this single distribution audit provides comprehensive coverage of what it is and how one can benefit by using it in real-world applications.

The book uses a cookbook approach in the discussion of the Weibull distribution. It offers short evaluations of methods, formulas and comparisons of any competitive approaches. In other words, Dodson provides a lot of how-to, but devotes very little discussion to Weibull’s merit.

This book provides a quick reference for reliability engineers or quality professionals. It is a good reference book for all practitioners of statistics. I would not, however, recommend it to educators teaching the Weibull distribution.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego


  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Lean Six Sigma, Breakthrough Management Group with Neil DeCarlo, Alpha, 2007, 400 pp., $19.95 (book).
  • Improving Healthcare Using Toyota Lean Production Methods: 46 Steps for Improvement, second editionRobert Chalice, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 320 pp., $19 member, $32 list (book).
  • Leading Peak Performance: Lessons From the Wild Dogs of Africa Stephen Hacker and Marvin Washington, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 128 pp., $18 member, $30 list (book).

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