Dashboards Vs. Scorecards: Deciding Between Operations & Strategy

What are the major differences between dashboards and scoreboards?
Dashboards Vs. Scorecards: Deciding Between Operations & Strategy
What are the major differences between dashboards and scoreboards?

Dashboards and scorecards are both used to help you run your company smoothly and efficiently—but they have very different purposes. Simply put, a dashboard is better for managing operations, and a scorecard is better for managing strategy.

You may be thinking, “But my situation isn’t black and white—I need to manage operations and strategy... now what?”

That’s an excellent and simple question with a complex answer. To help get to the bottom of it, we’ll give several examples of when it may be best to lean toward a dashboard and when it may be best to lean toward a scorecard. We’ll also look at the overlap between these two solutions, and determine what kind of changes you may want to consider if your situation isn’t clearly defined.


A dashboard is largely used as a business intelligence tool that helps you visualize large sets of data. It may be beneficial to you if want to understand how your organization is performing on a specific issue or at a particular time or see the trends your organization is excelling at. It probably isn’t ideal if you need to make changes to your processes or if your processes aren’t repeatable.

Here are a few examples of times when a dashboard would work very well in your organization:

  • You need to track the efficiency of production and error rates in your manufacturing facility.
  • You need to track how many inbound calls your call centers get every hour.
  • You need to monitor safety and instances of injury in a factory.
  • You have to track the number of on-time arrivals and departures to and from your airport.

Bear in mind that if you want to have a successful management dashboard, you’ll need to have information that is easily fed from business intelligence solutions or data tracking applications to the dashboard. Entering this information by hand isn’t a viable long-term solution.


A scorecard is a framework used to align your strategy with your objectives. It could be beneficial to integrate at your organization if you need multiple points of control, need to perfect or sharpen your processes, or plan to revise your strategy. It isn’t ideal for automatic analysis, real-time updates, or viewing levels of detail.

If any of the following scenarios resonate with you or sound similar to your current situation, a scorecard may be ideal:

  • You need to determine whether or not you’re creating the right products, whether or not those products are keeping up with today’s trends, whether or not those products are profitable, and how all of those things tie into your strategy.
  • You need to strategize about which call center scripts are and are not working and how that could lead to a better customer experience.
  • You need to determine what your management team is doing to learn from and improve upon your training and employee satisfaction.
  • You need to look at how having better safety standards in place would drive a more profitable manufacturing environment.

Remember that a scorecard tracks the management knowledge of what is currently happening in your organization. It also takes into consideration the assumptions of why you think the measures are important and how they’re helping you achieve a broader strategy.

The Overlap Between Dashboards & Scorecards

As we previously mentioned, a dashboard is better for managing operations, and a scorecard is better for managing strategy. But if you picture them as a Venn diagram, there is indeed some overlap. You could call these overlapping sections “strategic dashboards” or “operational scorecards”—and yes, you could create these with some basic modifications!

A strategic dashboard may comprise of a small, concise set of measures that represent the strategy of the organization as a whole. You could create a simple one-page view of these key strategic measures, while still maintaining the ability to drill down and analyze the results.

An operational scorecard would offer tactical goals instead of strategic goals; it would consist of short-term goals, projects, and measures for those projects, instead of measures for your overall strategy. You might use an operational scorecard to manage multiple projects going on at the same time. It may add context to your dashboard and might look more like a scorecard, but it would have more of a short-term focus.

Ask Yourself These 2 Questions

If you’ve made it this far and still feel a little fuzzy about whether a dashboard or a scorecard would be ideal for your company, take a step back and ask yourself this:

1.“Do I need to review something on a monthly or quarterly basis, or do I need live or regularly-updated data available for review?”

If you need data immediately, think dashboard. If you can examine the results of what you’re monitoring monthly, think scorecard. But if you think there may be a need for a little of both, ask yourself this:

2. “Can one of these solutions be modified to fit my needs?”

If so, select the solution that supports your primary need.

To Sum It All Up

Here’s how I think about it:

When we run into people who are trying to do weekly reports and are constantly updating their information because they want it as close as possible to live, they’re definitely dashboard people. (And they can provide context to create a strategic dashboard to some degree, but they’d still want live, current data.)

The people who need to see where they’re going, understand the big picture, and ensure they’re pushing themselves in the right direction are more likely scorecard people.

Remember, a dashboard helps you visualize large sets of data and showcase your company's progress on a project or goal. A scorecard helps you align your strategy with your objectives and highlights how your organization is working towards your strategy.

Once you have a clear idea of what you’re trying to measure, you should be able to sort through scorecarding and dashboarding solutions and think more clearly about the hybrid space in the middle.

A Final Thought

Some time ago, we spoke with Stephen Stone, now a Senior Manager at Ernst & Young LLP, about his thoughts on dashboarding and scorecarding. He told us a piece of advice that is important to keep in mind: Don’t end up implementing a $250,000 solution for a $25,000 problem. Scorecards and dashboards are both important strategic tools, but they have very different applications—so it’s important to be sure you understand the problem your organization is facing before deciding on the best fix. If you select hurriedly or incorrectly, you could end up costing your organization in a big way and dealing with quite a headache.


How does a dashboard work?

A dashboard is a visual representation of data, often in real-time, that allows for quick analysis and decision-making. It works by consolidating information from various sources and presenting it in a clear and concise format, usually using charts, graphs, gauges, and other visual elements. The dashboard can be interactive, allowing users to filter, drill down, and explore data in more detail.

How do you create a dashboard in Excel?

To create a dashboard in Excel, follow these steps:

- Gather Data: Collect the data you want to display on your dashboard from relevant sources.
- Choose Charts and Graphs: Select the types of charts and graphs that best represent your data and insights.
- Design Layout: Arrange the charts and graphs in a visually appealing and informative way.
- Add Interactivity: Use Excel's features (like slicers, filters, and pivot tables) to make the dashboard interactive, allowing users to explore data dynamically.
- Link Data: Connect the dashboard elements to the underlying data sources to ensure the information is always up-to-date.

What does a dashboard mean?

A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives, consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance. It's like the control panel of a car, providing a quick overview of key metrics and allowing for easy monitoring and adjustment.

Which dashboard is useful for operational managers?

Operational dashboards are most useful for operational managers. These dashboards focus on real-time or near real-time data related to daily operations, such as production output, inventory levels, customer service metrics, and equipment performance. They enable managers to quickly identify bottlenecks, track progress, and make data-driven decisions to optimize efficiency and productivity.

Why is a dashboard important?

Dashboards are important for several reasons:

- Improved Visibility: They provide a clear and concise view of critical information, making it easier to spot trends, patterns, and outliers.
- Enhanced Decision-Making: They facilitate quick and informed decision-making by presenting data in an easily digestible format.
- Increased Efficiency: They save time by consolidating information from multiple sources into a single view.
- Better Communication: They enable effective communication of key metrics and performance indicators to stakeholders.
- Improved Accountability: They promote accountability by clearly displaying performance against targets.

Dashboards Vs. Scorecards: Deciding Between Operations & Strategy

Ted Jackson

Co-Founder & Alabama Native

Ted is a Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPoint Strategy and leads the sales and marketing teams.

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