Use of Self-Organizing Maps for Balanced Scorecard analysis to monitor the performance of dialysis clinic chains

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Abstract

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a validated tool to monitor enterprise performances against specific objectives. Through the choice and the evaluation of strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), it provides a measure of the past company's outcome and allows planning future managerial strategies. The Fresenius Medical Care (FME) BSC makes use of 30 KPIs for a continuous quality improvement strategy within its dialysis clinics. Each KPI is monthly associated to a score that summarizes the clinic efficiency for that month. Standard statistical methods are currently used to analyze the BSC data and to give a comprehensive view of the corporate improvements to the top management. We herein propose the Self-Organizing Maps (SOMs) as an innovative approach to extrapolate information from the FME BSC data and to present it in an easy-readable informative form. A SOM is a computational technique that allows projecting high-dimensional datasets to a two-dimensional space (map), thus providing a compressed representation. The SOM unsupervised (self-organizing) training procedure results in a map that preserves similarity relations existing in the original dataset; in this way, the information contained in the high-dimensional space can be more easily visualized and understood. The present work demonstrates the effectiveness of the SOM approach in extracting useful information from the 30-dimensional BSC dataset: indeed, SOMs enabled both to highlight expected relationships between the KPIs and to uncover results not predictable with traditional analyses. Hence we suggest SOMs as a reliable complementary approach to the standard methods for BSC interpretation.

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