A fool with a tool still remains a fool.

-R. Buckminster Fuller

Dashboards are only part of it.

Even outfitted with the most advanced and featured software, your dashboard will be useless - or worse, will misguide you - if you do not know where you want to go.

Overrating the importance of Dashboards and Scorecards is the second mistakes you faced the most. In a previous article, we spoke about the most frequent mistake: "failing to apply the Three Threes"

We met plenty of entrepreneurs having made this second mistake: thinking that implementing a tool will fix the issues. Like magically. If you think so, sorry to disappoint you. The simple fact of implementing a solution will not solve the issue by itself. Do this examples ring a bell?

  • Trying multiple knowledge platforms. Think about all the wikis like Confluence, Notions, Appolo, shared documents on Office 365 or Google Drive. People complain about the current wiki. The information is duplicated, not retrievable, outdated, name it. The organization consents the effort to select a new wiki, structure it, migrate all the contents. After a few months, people start to complain again. About the same things. The issue isn't in the selection in the tool. Most probably, there is a cultural and a process issue over the way to centralize and share contents across the organisation.
  • Worse, sometimes we use tools for other purposes than it was meant for.The best (? I do not know if this should be the worst) example: business controllers using Excel to write documentation and analysis. Text formatting is a nightmare. Reading it is hell. Texts must be written in Word alike solutions, spreadsheets in Excel. Consultants experience the same pitfall with their PowerPoint decks.

Reporting is not an exception. Some business executives misinterpret the concept of dashboard, and scorecards. Both solutions aim to convey critical performance information at a glance. But, some executives expect positive outcomes for something dashboard/scorecard wasn't meant for. In a concise way, dashboards monitor the performance of operational processes, whereas scorecards chart the progress of tactical and strategic goals.

Surely, dashboards and scorecards must be visual display mechanisms within your performance management system. Any useful performance system should deliver both a dash and a scorecard interfaces, since both do the same thing: display the status and trending of key performance indicators.

The primary difference between the two is that:

  • dashboards monitor the performance of operational processes,
  • whereas a scorecard charts the progress of tactical and strategic goals.

The table below presents the main differences between dashboard and scorecards.

Criteria Dashboard Scorecard
Purposes Measure performances Chart progress
Users Supervisors, specialists Executives, managers
Updates Real-time Periodic snapshots
Data Business events Summaries
Display Visual graphics, tables, raw data Visual components, texts, comments

Dashboards or Scorecards are not the application or the system in and of themselves. One of my mentors was used to say, "A fool with a tool is still a fool." And that's right: even outfitted with the most advanced and featured software, if you do not know where you go, your dashboard will be useless - best case - or worse, misguiding you.

How to do, then?

  1. Where do you want your company to go?
  2. Define your key objectives.
  3. Decide whether you want to track performance in detail, or whether you prefer to follow trends.
  4. Who will consume the information?
  5. How often?

Once you answered those questions, you may start with what you think is easiest to measure and what you already have the data for.

Do you want more?

Some related articles

Our experience as consultants demonstrated us that guiding business owners and entrepreneurs in the KPI journey was critical. Therefore, we created kopilot as a solution answering the different needs you might have to drive your business.

kopilot is the easiest way for CEO and Founders make sure business is running well without using multiple tools or waiting for the pieces of evidence! It requires no setup, nor installation fees. It is all-inclusive, and for the price of two hours a month struggling with Excel spreadsheets.

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