New Zealand Dashboards
and Scorecards

The visual display of quantitative information

The terms Scorecard and Dashboard are often used interchangeably. In addition, there are arguments about how to measure the health of an organisation. Peter Drucker famously said that “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, but Einstein said that “not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

Which one is correct? Of course the answer is both. Organisations have to manage what’s important to them, regardless of whether they can be counted, if they are to be successful.

Dashboards

Typically attempt to provide management with high level information about different parts of the business, in one view. This view may be:

  • One simple IBM Cognos Report Studio report, with multiple objects displayed.
  • A Report Studio report with dynamic content – conditional formatting, drilling

through to more detailed reports.

Scorecards

Typically provide management with metrics that they need to actively manage because they are important to the business. They assist management by:

  • Showing what drives the metrics.
  • Show the progress over time and make a prediction about what will happen if
  • changes are not made.

  • Identify at what level of the business, the changes need to be made.
  • Always have targets/budgets.

Kaplan and Norton’s balanced scorecard attempts to balance the four main factors that drive all businesses, without giving undue attention to factors that are easier to measure. Finance and operations are typically data rich; whereas customer and human resources information often have very limited data. The balanced scorecard asserts that finance and operations are given too much emphasis because we have data about them, but that we should be giving equal weight to staff and customers because they are critical to most businesses.

CDP have the experience and technology to create both dashboards and scorecards. The technology is good, but the key to their success is the application of principles such as:

  • It is not your job to alter or distort what the data says. The data must speak for itself. You have to work out the best way for this to happen.
  • The substance is what matters; don’t let decoration overshadow the data.
  • You need to make a large volume of data coherent, in a small space, without it looking crowded.
  • Ideally you will want to compare actuals with targets/forecasts/plans, or between periods.
  • From highly summarised to detailed, you will need to judge the levels of detail to display.
  • On top of all of that it needs to have a clear purpose.

In addition, the following six Cs need to be considered when designing your dashboard:

Connected to important goals.
Consistent – always going one way when moving toward the goal and the other way when going from it. For example when your metric is tracking upwards this is always good.
Calibrated – the metric must mean the same thing to different people within your organisation.
Complete – if the metric improves it means that the real situation has improved.
Communicated – to people whose behaviour you are trying to influence.
Current – if they aren’t, your metrics and your goals are no longer connected.

You need to apply good design rules of thumb. The following are some examples of good dashboard design principles:

  • Intuitive to the audience.
    Users shouldn’t have to try and work out what it means every time they look at it.
  • The more white space the better.
  • Use safe colours. No clashing colours.
  • Don’t create meaningless variety.
  • Don’t overdo decoration.
  • Clear hierarchy of importance. Give prominence to the most important.