Dashboard and report are popular business intelligence tools. Companies use dashboard and report to better aid their operations. Although both are widely used, many people fall into the misunderstanding of choosing them. This article will help you distinguish between dashboards vs reports, helping you make right choices.

a picture showing reality use of business intelligence
reality use of business intelligence

What are dashboard and report?

Definition of dashboard

According to a well-known visualization scholar, Stephen Few, dashboard is defined as “visual display[s] of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.”

Dashboard owns following main advantages in assisting enterprises.

  • Clear and intuitive interface. The dashboard displays key indicators on one interface in the form of graphs and tables. Customers can use the simple dashboard interface to view relevant data anytime and anywhere, saving employees’ time and energy.
  • Easy to analyze. The dashboard owns a compact space to display rich data, and at the same time, it’s easy to arrange information. Related indicators can be arranged together, which can help companies compare and analyze at a glance.
  • Data visualization. The dashboard provides a visualized view of the data, and can be updated in real time by changing the data according to the actual situation. The changing trend of various data can also be displayed on the dashboard.
clear and dynamic dashboard interface of FineReport
dashboard interface of FineReport

Definition of report

A report is a static document containing data in the form of text and tables. Reports sometimes include visual effects such as basic graphics and charts, but are mainly organized to highlight specific original numbers or related data sets. The data provided by the report usually represents only part of the available set. Reports are often used to clean up, sort, and parse data.

Main benefits of report are as followings.

  • It is more suitable to provide a high-level view of the organization. The report can be applied in the wider scope, and the form of regular filling and updating is more conducive to corporate management. Checking the operation status for a certain period of time can help managers or CEOs understand how each department operates.
  • Provide a lot of information. Usually in one page space, a complex report can display a large amount of information, so that users can easily query and monitor the data.
clear and dynamic report interface of FineReport
report interface of FineReport

Differences between dashboard vs report

Although both dashboard and report are ended in assisting companies, there are many differences between dashboard vs report.

  • Different levels of details: The report is created in multiple pages, so the report can provide a variety of detailed analysis and information. Instead, the dashboard only contains important information from large data sets.
  • Interactivity: Slicers and filters are embedded in the report, so you can classify the data by adding category fields to the slicer according to the analysis needs, and view the detailed data of each type of data. Compared with reports, dashboards may not have this kind of interactivity, and users may need to view different dashboards for analysis by category.
  • Data sources: Dashboards are built based on multiple data tables, which are connected to each other in one or more ways. However, reports are created from a single data set table.
  • Data set view: Using the data set view of the dashboard, we cannot see the source data because readers can only get a single page of information. On the contrary, the report can see the original data, including tables, data sets and detailed data fields.
  • Space occupied: In the process of dashboard vs report, we can find that the information provided by the report is much more detailed than that of the dashboard. Therefore, the space occupied by the report is much larger than that of the dashboard.
an interface of mobile terminal of FineReport
mobile terminal of FineReport

Dashboard and report software


FineReport is an excellent business intelligence software that provides dashboards and report tools on the market. FineReport not only provides comprehensive dashboard and report functions, but also perfectly combines both dashboard and report to better help enterprises.

In general, FineReport is a customer-friendly software, not only reflected in its products and services, but also in price. FineReport provides free version and commercial version two options for companies to choose. If you have interest in commercial version, you could click “pricing” to know more details. As for the free version, it’s open to all and offers a free trial of FineReport.

Free trial

Combination of dashboard and report

FineReport realizes the perfect integration of reports and dashboards. Users can update the dashboard in real time by modifying the report data. In addition, the development of FineReport’s mobile terminal can help customers break the constraints of space and time.

Here I would like to introduce one scenario of combing dashboard and report.

summary of sales report (by FineReport)
summary of sales report (by FineReport)

Enterprises first fill in the summary of sales report according to the actual situation of its own business, and then FineReport can automatically generate the sales analysis dashboard according to the template embedded in FineReport itself. If the report data is changed, the dashboard will also be updated in real time.

sales analysis (by FineReport)
sales analysis (by FineReport)

When to use dashboard and report?

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between dashboard vs report, it should be easy to match usage scenarios.

When you want to provide a high-level understanding of a complex system, especially for executives or other senior personnel, creating a dashboard is more appropriate. These people are usually responsible for making decisions quickly, and dashboards speed up the time to insight. Dashboards are also useful survey tools, so they are helpful to anyone in a diagnostic role or situation. For all other occasions, one report is sufficient.

However, with the development of business intelligence, dashboards and reports are often used together, and FineReport has achieved a perfect integration. If you want to get the most high cost-effective products, welcome download and use FineReport!

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