The Difference Between Scorecards And Dashboards

Admittedly, I like language and the how words lend themselves to interesting twists, origins, and uses. For instance, I enjoyed when Ricardo Montalban (welcome to Fantasy Island) came on the Tonight Show and admitted that Chrysler called the leather in their Cordoba “Corinthian Leather” simply because they liked how the word sounded when he said it. There really wasn’t such a thing as Corinthian Leather. Also, why are people overwhelmed, but nobody is just plain whelmed?

In that vein, I have often seen the terms “scorecard” and “dashboard” used interchangeably and thought it might be helpful for the industry to have someone unpack these terms and provide a quick overview. [more]
The best business definition I could find was from Tom Gonzalez of BrightPoint Consulting who summarized:


  • Highest, most strategic level

  • Used to align operational execution with business strategy

  • Goal is to keep the business focused on a common strategic plan by monitoring real world execution and mapping the results of that execution back to a specific strategy

  • Primary measurement used in a scorecard is the key performance indicator (KPI)


  • One level down in the business decision making process

  • Less strategic and more tied to operational goals

  • Primary focus is execution of operational goals

  • Uses both metrics and KPI’s

Clear as mud? Let’s take it away from theory and apply it in practice. First, let’s pick a real-world application that is just as frustrating as travel…golf. Scorecards are pretty clear in golf. They tell us how we did on a hole and then what our overall cumulative score is. We even add context to that score by comparing it to par, comparing it to others, and also a course difficulty rating. That score can also be broken down by looking how we did on par 3’s, par 4’s, par 5’s, what our bounce-back percentage is after a bad hole, etc.

A dashboard in golf would be more focused on the individual operational components that help me reach my score. The dashboard would have metrics such as % of fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts per green in regulation, sand saves, etc. How well I’m doing out of the sand is a component of my score, but if I’m taking 7 shots to get to the sand trap, the fact that I can get the ball on the green and in the hole in two more strokes is the least of my problems. I would compare that to lowest logical airfare. If I’m always accepting the lowest logical airfare, but I’m booking only 3 days out, the fares I have to choose from are pretty steep and the lowest logical decision isn’t as germane.

So bringing this back to the travel industry, a true scorecard distributed to a department would be able to answer questions such as:

  1. Overall, how well did my department travel compared to other departments?

  2. Did my department meet strategic, clear, compliance and savings goals?

Then, moving one level down, a dashboard would answer these questions:

  1. What is my 14+ day advance purchase percentage as that is often a component of an inexpensive trip? How does that compare with goals or others?

  2. What is my self booking percentage, lowest logical airfare percentage, preferred hotel compliance, etc?

Does that mean that you have to choose a scorecard instead of a dashboard or vice versa? Certainly not. Most outputs you’ll see are a hybrid of a scorecard and a dashboard. For instance, at RCG, we highly endorse and have designed deliverables that have both components. We provide the contextual, quantifiable spin of a scorecard (what is a cumulative one-number score that wraps up my overall travel behavior and how much is that worth) with the operational metrics of a dashboard (how well is my department doing in these specific behaviors that drive that overall score and savings). If it’s designed well, it’s one-page, crisp, and clear.

Now, at the end of the day is that hybrid approach a deliverable, output, or analytic? I’ll just stick with whatever marketing tells me!

Tom Ruesink is president of Ruesink Consulting Group, Inc. Before founding this company 4 years ago, he was a director for the consulting division of a major TMC and designed much of their analytic deliverable package. He describes himself as a “communicator who got hooked on data”. If you have comments or questions about this topic, feel free to contact Tom at or 952-223-6382. Their website is