Advantage of Non-Financial Measures

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Non-financial measures offer four clear advantages over measurement systems based on financial data. First of these is a closer link to long-term organizational strategies. Financial evaluation systems generally focus on annual or short-term performance against accounting yardsticks. They do not deal with progress relative to customer requirements or competitors, nor other non-financial objectives that may be important in achieving profitability, competitive strength and longer-term strategic goals. For example, new product development or expanding organizational capabilities may be important strategic goals, but may hinder short-term accounting performance. By supplementing accounting measures with non-financial data about strategic performance and implementation of strategic plans, companies can communicate objectives and provide incentives for managers to address long-term strategy. Second, critics of traditional measures argue that drivers of success in many industries are "intangible assets" such as intellectual capital and customer loyalty, rather than the "hard assets" allowed on to balance sheets. Although it is difficult to quantify intangible assets in financial terms, non-financial data can provide indirect, quantitative indicators of a firm's intangible assets. One study examined the ability of non-financial indicators of "intangible assets" to explain differences in US companies' stock market values. It found that measures related to innovation, management capability, employee relations, quality and brand value explained a significant proportion of a company's value, even allowing for accounting assets and liabilities. By excluding these intangible assets, financially oriented measurement can encourage managers to make poor, even harmful, decisions.

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