As companies move beyond standard reporting, they will become more involved with Dashboards and Scorecards. These key components of BI enable decision makers to quickly understand and monitor the current state of their organization’s operations.
The terms scorecards and dashboards generally are used interchangeably, which tends to lead to confusion around the purpose of each. This is primarily due to:
- Both provide a mechanism to track company metrics
- Both use visualizations to display company metrics
- Both can provide links to supporting information through reports
To get a better understanding of the meaning and application of each, here are some definitions and characteristics:
Dashboards are visualizations used to display a summarized view of key operational metrics for a particular point in time. Dashboards offer actionable information in an intuitive format and allow for users to get a good understanding of organizational data at a quick glance.
- Visual display of key operational metrics
- Generally, all visualizations fit on a single screen (no scrolling)
- Designed for use by the general workforce
- Data is automatically refreshed on at least a daily basis
Scorecards are tabular visualizations of measures and their respective targets with visual indicators to see how each measure is performing against their targets. Scorecards enable monitoring the execution of business objectives at each level of an organization (e.g. executive, business unit, operations) and ensure a consistent understanding of an organization’s priorities and expectations.
- Visual display of key corporate metrics
- Data is updated on a periodic basis (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly)
- Contains at least one measure, which includes its value and target
- Visual indication (symbols or icons) to present a summary of business performance
Overall, the main difference between the two is that a dashboard indicates the status of metrics at a specific point in time (i.e. how is my company doing right now?), while a scorecard displays progress against goals over periods of time (i.e. how is my company doing compared to our goals?).
In short, if a user wants a view of operational metrics for a given point in time, provide a dashboard solution. However, if a user requires a comparison of organizational metrics against corporate goals over time, provide a scorecard solution.