Dashboards and Data Viz

During a recent roundtable discussion on the subject of dashboards, someone from the audience asked, “What is the difference between a dashboard and a scorecard?”

This is a very common question within the topic of dashboards, and I have answered this at various occasions so I thought it would be apt to briefly blog on this topic.

dashboard vs balanced scorecardBalanced Scorecard vs. Dashboard

In their simplest forms, dashboards and scorecards are two separate concepts. However, when a scorecard is implemented in the form of a dashboard, then they are one and the same. For example, if you implement a quality scorecard that presents all the key metrics that manifest the quality of an operation or facility, and these metrics are presented to the users through a dashboard for ease of visualization, then the dashboard is the scorecard.

However, as mentioned earlier, in their simplest forms the two terms represent two different ideas. A dashboard is simply a collection of information presented in a user-friendly visual format. The presentation could be a combination of different formats – numeric, text, chart, image or video. Depending upon the content of the dashboard, it may or may not be a scorecard. On the other hand, a scorecard is a collection of metrics that represents performance relative to a set of benchmarks. A scorecard doesn’t need to be represented in a dashboard format. It could be presented as a simple spreadsheet or a collection of grades, no different than a school report card.

Read next: How to Build a Dynamic Balanced Scorecard

What has grayed the difference between dashboards and scorecards is the promotion of the scorecard concept by dashboard vendors. Displaying performance scorecards for individuals, groups, and organizations is an excellent application of dashboard software.

It is also worth noting that a Balanced Scorecard is a specific facet of scorecard. The term was coined by David Norton and Robert Kaplan in their book titled “The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action”. Balanced Scorecard promotes the idea of looking at an organization’s performance holistically from four different perspectives–Financial, Internal Process Efficiency, Customer and Human Resources, and Learning and Growth.

Shadan Malik
President & CEO, iDashboards