Many businesses today use visual or progress indicators to help keep track of how operations are running. Some of the more popular methods involve using scorecards and dashboards to keep abreast of current happenings. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they have some distinct differences that are definitely worth noting. In this blog post, we’re going to go over some scorecard and dashboard basics, while distinguishing between the two.
What is a Dashboard?
Dashboards, in general, are meant to give an overview of a variety of metrics within a business at a particular point in time. Therefore, a dashboard may contain a multitude of information, though with a limited range. An executive might be able to look at a dashboard and see, on a certain day, how much waste was produced, how many products were pushed through, what and how many materials were ordered, and how many orders were placed (or any number of other measurable phenomena). A dashboard’s primary purpose is to take a snapshot of a wide swath of business, if not the whole thing.
What is a Scorecard?
Conversely, scorecards generally zero in on one or a couple of metrics; these metrics are usually something that management wants to monitor or feels are important to change. Let’s say, for example, we want to measure employee efficiency by keeping track of the numbers of hours worked each week vs. the number of items produced in the same amount of time. The important thing to note is that a scorecard of such information would be used to show trends over time, not a one-off measurement. For this reason, scorecards usually span weeks, months, a year, or longer. Also unlike a dashboard, a scorecard is going to have targets or goals built in, so that you and your team know what you’re looking for as time goes forward and results are collected.
Why Use A Scorecard?
When working with a large team, scorecards can be a great way to communicate; they make readily available common goals and how the team is progressing toward those goals. Scorecards are also useful to identify which strategies are working the best, and which are failing to yield the desired results. As long as you document what went on between each check in period, you can start to draw preliminary cause/effect relationships.
How Do You Do It?
A scorecard should be, above all, simple and accessible to all members of the team. Once goals are set, you need to decide how often you’ll be having checkpoints, and by extension how close together you’ll have points of data. One key characteristic of a scorecard is that it is a quick reference, so avoid keeping one score card going for too long, or measuring too frequently; you want to limit the card to about 1 page over the course of its use.
Once goals and intervals are decided, be sure to designate who will be in charge of actually filling in and updating the card. Usually a manager takes the lead on this, but a shift leader, or even just any employee who is around during the designated check-in points, can do this. As each new section is filled, the scorecard will offer a clearer and clearer picture of how your metrics have trended.
What To Do With The Information?
At the conclusion of making your scorecard, the first thing you should do is check your results against your goals or expectations. Were you on target the whole time? Partially? Not at all? If you were on target consistently, you can probably simply file the scorecard away for the time being, having successfully finished it. If things were off, consider bumping your scorecard up through the ranks to someone with the power to make changes, as it is likely that some need to be made. In these cases, another score card may be in order once adjustments are made to ensure they have the intended effect.
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