In case of portals, the story is reasonably clear.  I think most would agree that the goal of portals is to provide users with integrated access to relevant business information.  The key words here are: access, integrated and relevant.  So, it’s a “one stop shopping” for information gathered from structured (databases, etc.) and unstructured (e-mails, lists, documents, etc.) data from disparate sources across the enterprise.  To support this goal, good portals come with indexing and full-text search across all these data sources, comprehensive collaboration support, and are, in a sense, a launching pad for other applications, web sites, etc.

 

But when talking about dashboards and scorecards, the differences become a bit less clear.  Recently, I came across a white paper titled “The essential guide to analytic dashboards”.  The author (Aaron Solomon) has made it as clear as it gets, in my opinion.  Here is a chart from his paper:

 

Characteristic

Portal

Dashboard

Scorecard

Business benefit

Provides central gateway to a company’s intranet and applications

Enables monitoring of current business status and tactical decision making

Displays overall progress executing against strategic goals

 

Business users

Entire organization

Managers of operations and business functions

Executives, long-term decision makers

Timeframe of data

Varies

Short (minutes, hours, 1 day)

Long (days, months, year)

 

Relative data latency

Varies

Low

Medium

Integrates into portals

NA

Yes

Yes

 

Given these definitions, a dashboard is best fit for tracking key performance indicators at a tactical level, for measuring performance and analyzing data via a relatively structured, analytic view.  A dashboard often is incorporated into a portal.

A scorecard is a great tool for aligning user activities to key strategic objectives. 

 

I encourage you to read Aaron’s white paper by visiting http://www.windowsitpro.com/cluster/docs/products/1/3/Proclarity_EG.pdf.