Scorecards and Dashboards

Performance Management Tools

There are many tools and techniques used by private and public sector organisation as part of their systems of organisational performance management. The key to effective organisational performance management is to have those tools and techniques which are appropriate to the organisational context (Mackie, 2008).

Scorecards are strategic performance management instruments, displaying periodic snapshots of performance associated with an organization’s strategic objectives and plans (Wayne, 2006).


Dashboards are operational performance management instruments, used to generate tactical actions based on performance indicators. Dashboards are concurrent controls. The Atlanta Dashboard, for example, is a performance management tool that the City of Atlanta uses to track the effectiveness of City services and to hold its managers accountable for service delivery. It is organised around the four major strategic goals of the Mayor: A Safe City; a Strong Infrastructure; an Efficient and Effective Government; and a Financially Stable Government. Within each of the four major strategic goals there are supporting strategies that help to achieve those goals. The dashboard "cascades" downward through the supporting strategies to the performance measures (Mackie, 2008).



The two tools, often used as interchangeably terms, have important identical elements characteristic, which usually become a source of confusion.


The most important similarities between scorecards and dashboards are:

  • Being tools used for tracking results.
  • Using targets and threshold examples.
  • Creating a linkage with metrics and performance reports.
  • Using traffic lights and other visual aids.



Though both are performance management tools, Scorecards and Dashboards are two different instruments, mostly due to their purpose (why they are used) and their context (how they are used).

differences_scorecards__and dashboards

Source: adapted after Cokings (2008)

The figure above illustrates the difference between scorecards and dashboards, showing that they are not contradictory, just used for different purposes (Cokings, 2008).


Major differences between Scorecard and Dashboards



Are intended to be strategic, used in order to align all the activities within the organization with the strategic objective.

Are intended to be operational, used primarily for data visualization.

Use KPIs.

Use PIs.

“Intelligent” reporting - communicating “why”, mostly for strategic decision making.

“Dumb” reporting – communicating “what”, mostly for generating tactical actions.

Linkage to cause-effect strategy map and dynamic directions.

Linkage to tactical actions and static visualization.

Used to understand the context of key scores - the way they influence achievement of strategic outcomes.

Used to keep score in a sport event.



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