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Dashboards vs. Scorecards | Data Enthusiast

The business intelligence dashboard is often confused with the performance scorecard. The main difference between the two, traditionally, is that a business intelligence dashboard, like the dashboard of a car, indicates the status at a specific point in time. A scorecard, on the other hand, displays progress over time towards specific goals. Dashboard and Scorecard designs are increasingly converging. For example, some commercial dashboard products also include the ability to track progress towards a goal. A product combining elements of both dashboards and scorecards is sometimes referred to as a scoreboard. (Source: techbusinessanalytics)

A Subtle Distinction

imageAlthough many people use the terms “dashboard” and “scorecard” synonymously, there is a subtle distinction that is worth understanding. (See Table 1)

Dashboards monitor and measure processes. The common industry perception is that a dashboard is more real-time in nature, like an automobile dashboard that lets drivers check their current speed, fuel level, and engine temperature at a glance. It follows that a dashboard is linked directly to systems that capture events as they happen and it warns users through alerts or exception notifications when performance against any number of metrics deviates from the norm.

Scorecards chart progress toward objectives. The common perception of a scorecard, on the other hand, is that it displays periodic snapshots of performance associated with an organization’s strategic objectives and plans. It measures business activity at a summary level against predefined targets to see if performance is within acceptable ranges. Its selection of key performance indicators helps executives communicate strategy and focuses users on the highest priority tasks required to execute plans.

Whereas a dashboard informs users what they are doing, a scorecard tells them how well they are doing. In other words, a dashboard records performance while a scorecard charts progress. In short, a dashboard is a performance monitoring system, whereas a scorecard is a performance management system. (Source: TDWI)

image

Components of a True Balanced Scorecard

While both Balanced Scorecards and Dashboards display performance information, a Balanced Scorecard is a more prescriptive format; a true Balanced Scorecard should always include these components: Perspectives (groupings of high-level strategic areas), Objectives (verb-noun phrases pulled from a strategic plan), Measures (also called Metrics or Key Performance Indicators/KPIs), and Stoplight Indicators (red, yellow, or green symbols that provide an at-a-glance view of a Measure’s performance). These specific components help ensure that a Balanced Scorecard is inherently tied to the organization’s critical strategic needs.

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Dashboards – More Loosely Defined

The design of Dashboards, on the other hand, is much more open to interpretation. Most Dashboards are simply a series of graphs, charts, gauges, or other visual indicators that a user has chosen to monitor, some of which may be strategically important, but others of which may not. Even if a strategic link exists, it may not be clear to the person monitoring the Dashboard, since the Objective statements, which explain what achievement is desired, are typically not present on Dashboards. (Source: ActiveStrategy)

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  • Nailapamb

    Many thanks.

  • Hi Joshua,

    Thank you for insightful article. “Scorecard is a performance management system”, I would add the some scorecards (like one described in the Balanced Scorecard framework), are strategy management and execution system. What do you think about having important KPIs not on the dashboard, but directly on the strategy map: http://www.bscdesigner.com/link-balanced-scorecard-to-dashboard.htm

  • Naweed Raja

    very nicely done. Many thanks

  • Sophia

    very helpful……..

  • Mido Atia

    awesome job i really needed an artical like this. thank you for your effort

About The Author

Joshua Burkhow

Joshua is an experienced analytics professional with focus on areas such as Analytics, Big Data, Business Intelligence, Data Science and Statistics. He has more than 13 years experience in Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing, Analtyics, IT Management, Software Engineering and Supply Chain Performance Management with Fortune 500 companies. He has specializations in building Analytics organizations, Mobile Reporting, Performance Management, and Business Analysis.

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