Operational Dashboard – A regularly updated answer to a question or line of inquiry that frequently monitors operational concerns in response to events or on an ad-hoc basis.
Strategic/Executive Dashboard – A high level view of a question or line of inquiry that is usually answered in a routine, specific way and usually presents Key Performance Indicators in a minimally interactive way.
Analytical Dashboard – A highly interactive view that provides a variety of investigative approaches to a specific central topic with a few corollary contextual views.
Data Visualization = a visual representation of large amounts of numerical data. The objective is to make sense of the data, or make the data more accessible.
Infographic = a visual representation of facts, events or numbers. Infographics try to tell a story; the focus is on informing or educating. The information is presented with context, with a narrative, that elaborates on the topic; it is often subjective. Infographics generally contain multiple data visualizations.
Dashboard = the equivalent of the automotive dashboard, displaying real-time changes to strategic or tactical data, usually displayed visually. Often has the ability to drill down through high level data into increasing detail. Focus is on operations and driving decision making. Time period is usually real-time. Tries to pinpoint exceptions, problems, or trends.
Scorecard = a visual representation of a business strategy, distinguished by a regimented top down process. Identifies a selection of key performance metrics to meet the organization’s goals and drills down through supporting departments and their metrics. Focus is on strategy. Time period is usually a historic point in time. Tries to pinpoint if you are meeting your goals.
The lines between dashboards and scorecards are being blurred as there is considerable overlap. Scorecards and dashboards are both concerned with measuring performance against KPIs, and communicating it in an easily “understood at a glance” format, that allows for immediate action. The two terms are often interchanged.
Archambault, S. G. (2016, April). Telling Your Story: Using Dashboards and Infographics for Data Visualization. Computers in Libraries (April 2016). Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com.
- Brief article with example of the difference between the two.
Savkin, A. (2019, June 24). What’s the difference between a dashboard and a balanced scorecard? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://bscdesigner.com.
- Contains a table explaining the difference from BSC Designer.
- Explanation of why you would use one or the other.
BI Dashboards. (n.d.). Scorecards vs. dashboards. Retrieved from https://www.bidashboard.org.
Dili. (2017, Apri 17). Difference between dashboard and scorecard [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.differencebetween.com.
- Overview, key differences, and comparison.
Benchmark = A standard of excellence against which similar items are measured.
BSC = Balanced Scorecard – a structured strategy performance management report with three critical elements: 1) a focus on strategic goals; 2) the monitoring of a small selection of data points; 3) the mix of both financial and non-financial data.
KPI = Key Performance Indicator – A measure that allows a company to determine how effectively they are achieving their objectives.
Qualitative data = When observations are classified, judged or categorized.
Ex.: Whether a user was satisfied with library service.
Quantitative data = When observations are counted or measured. Also called numerical data.
Ex.: Gate counts.
Discrete data = Numerical data that can be counted but not measured.
Ex.: Number of librarians employed at the library.
Continuous data = Numerical data that can be measured, or if counted can be broken down into smaller and more precise numbers.
Ex.: Time spent per reference encounter.
Nominal data = No natural order between categories.
Ex.: Tracking reference questions in different subject areas (ex. social sciences, humanities, fine arts, STEM, etc.).
Ordinal data = Ordered categories.
Ex.: Tracking reference questions from undergraduates, graduates, faculty.
For more types of visualizations, see also the “Types of Visualizations” box on the “Tools & Technology” tab.
- Line Charts: show trends and how data changes over time
- Bar Graphs (Horizontal, Vertical, Stacked): comparative rankings, growth over specific periods
- Pie Charts: proportional composition out of 100%
- Gauge Charts: display progress against key performance indicators
- Scatter Plot: correlate large data sets
- Maps: visualize data geographically
- Heat Maps: use colour to show highs and lows
- Word Clouds: weights words relative to one another
- Time Lines: series of events in chronological order
- Tree Maps: display hierarchical data
- Bubble Map: display proportional data by location
- Infographics: visual representation of data and text generally intended for mass communication
- Tables: for when you need to know the underlying data