Dashboards, Scorecards, Portals, KPI’s, Business Intelligence, Business Alerts…

These terms are often used in business today, sometimes interchangeably, and it’s helpful to understand the nuanced differences, as part of an overall Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) strategy.

I liken these concepts to driving your car on a road trip to a new destination that you’ve never been to before, just as an executive drives their business toward new strategic short term and long term goals. Your vehicle dashboard tells you how fast you’re going, the amount of gas in the tank, the coolant temperature, and engine RPM’s, just to name a few. These are Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) or taken as a whole, your Business Intelligence (BI). In business, depending on the industry and department, KPI’s might include margins, sales, inventory, turnover, etc. It’s measuring and monitoring the performance of your car or business, but it’s not leading you to your destination. No, that’s where your onboard GPS navigation system comes in.

The navigation system keeps score, like a scorecard, constantly updating your results, noting how long it will take to reach your destination, checking off way points along the trip, factoring in wrong turns, and making adjustments as needed until you arrive at your final target. The scorecard helps your business focus on reaching your goal, and monitors the results of the execution of your strategic plan. The dashboard, on the other hand, is less concerned with your overall strategic objective, and more focused on specific operational goals that will ultimately contribute back to the strategic plan.

Along the way, you may stop at an information booth to read about your destination, and nearby attractions. This would be considered a portal, an area that stores vast amounts of data and information, some relevant, and some not so relevant, but that you may find helpful to peruse and consider.

As you’re driving along and enjoying the scenery, suddenly, your low fuel indicator light shines on your dashboard, signifying it’s time take an action. This would be considered a business alert, often in the form of an email, notifying you of a potential problem that needs to be addressed asap.

So, the next time you hear the terms dashboards, scorecards, KPI’s and business alerts, think first of your vehicle dashboard, and the rest will fall into place. Consider what KPI’s you’d like to see on your own personalized dashboard, to help you achieve your own goals which should be in alignment with the company’s strategic plan. Consider the business alerts, or red flags, that should alert you to a potential problem, and a required action. And what scorecard functionality, or benchmarks, both financial and non-financial, will help the company determine if they are indeed effectively implementing their strategic plan.

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