Companies are collecting oceans of data, and struggle with transforming it into usable information. Most businesses focus on two methods of sharing data - the report and the dashboard. While these two terms mean many things to many people, it is important to understand what these terms mean and how the report and dashboard have similar features but they are not the same thing.
What is a Report?
A report is meant to be used to gather detailed intelligence on the operations within an organization, thus a report can be either very broadly covering a wide scope of related information, or narrowly focusing on details of a single item, purpose, or event. All of this information, while presented in a report, is meant to be a snapshot in time.
Quite often, a report is built within the ERP system itself and often is constrained by the graphical and user limitations within the ERP. More often than not, large amounts of data are exported to Excel where added features allow for better manipulation of the data to a format that is digestible by users. Regardless, the data is only valid for that moment and time.
What is a Dashboard?
A dashboard is a graphical interface that provides at-a-glance views revolving around answering a central question. For example, an executive may ask you for up-to-the-minute details on "how the business is doing?". The answer to that question is as complex as the organizational structure of the company, but it is probably very simply measured with approximately 10 metrics. Those 10 metrics can likely be analyzed in chart form, and can and should be combined into one chart when the numbers are relatable or are on a similar scale. All these things should be considered when building a dashboard.
Dashboards, similar to the one in your vehicle, display critical data. Imagine driving down the road and having to push a bunch of buttons to find out how much fuel you have left, or having to pull over and pop the hood to check the oil pressure. It would be dangerous and a waste of your precious time. Your car's control panel or dashboard displays the most crucial information in an easy-to-use, graphical way.
How do Reports and Dashboards differ?