A Simple Prioritisation Matrix Tool
Prioritising different projects is extremely difficult and causes no end of frustration that often results in a lack of decision-making and progress. You know you need to focus your energies, but how can you decide between so many things that all seem so important? Well, here’s a prioritisation method that might help you prioritise projects…
Whether you’re running a Strategic Retreat, or have a hundreds of ideas running through your head, this tool will give you the clarity you need to know what to prioritise and work on next. It’s something I came across in my days as a strategic consultant but it’s not complicated to use.
First you need to be clear on the list of options you are trying to prioritise or evaluate. This is probably the hardest part of the whole exercise. Deciding what and how to group various ideas together as projects can change how you evaluate them, so my advice is to keep things smaller rather than lumping too many things together as bigger projects. In order to prioritise projects, start by getting clear on the scope of your projects.
You need to gather the help of all relevant parties. These are people that can assist you in evaluating the projects, and also people (perhaps team members) that you want to understand why you’ve prioritised certain projects the way you have.
Then, you draw up the matrix as above. The dimensions on this are;
- Degree of Difficulty
This is your assessment of the relative amount of money, time, knowledge/skills or other resources it would take to successfully implement each project. It’s relative to your own resources so for instance, if a certain project would take a very high level of web development skills but you already have those skills inhouse, you’d rank this as easier than a business without those skills would rank the same project. This is another reason you should include your team or others who can help rank the various projects.
- Likely Impact
This is your judgement about the likely positive impact of each of the projects. You need to think about long-term and short-term results, revenues, your reputation, profits, and everything else that impacts the future of the business. Also consider the bottlenecks of your business – as making changes in these areas may have a bigger impact than you’d expect.
Prioritise Projects by positioning them on the Matrix
To prioritise projects you start by positioning each of them across these two dimensions. I find this is easiest to do by using a whiteboard or large flipchart for the matrix, and then adding the projects using post-it notes. This allows you to move them around more easily. You can also do this electronically – say by using Powerpoint (or equivalent) and a projector so that your group can see everything and discuss where things should be placed.
You’ll find that when you first start adding projects, it’s difficult to know where to place them, but as you add a few more, you’ll start to adjust things as you realise that Project A would have a greater impact than Project B, but it would be harder to implement.
Keep moving things around until you’re happy with their placement and make sure that your projects stretch to cover both dimensions of the matrix. Once you’re finished, remember to take a photo so that you have it on record.
You’ll now see that your projects now fall into the categories of;
- Quick Wins
- Major Projects
- Hard Slogs, and
- Fill Ins
Finally, to actually prioritise your projects, take a piece of paper and hold it diagonally to the top right corner. Slowly move it down to reveal one project at a time from the top right corner. Once you have revealed as many projects as you feel your business can handle at once, stop. These should be the projects you tackle first.
Alternatively, you could define your criteria for success and develop a complex weighting system like this one, but I prefer a simple method that you can get started on right now.
Prioritization is one of the most important elements of learning how to be more productive. Good luck and let us know how you go with this approach…
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I wonder if you or the readership would find this example as an easy decision matrix tool (www.ppehq.com/decision-matrix-template-pugh-matrix).
We developed a quick and easy widget, with sliders to make the process easier, since everything else available is like you say … to complex.
Thanks Mike, yours looks like a good tool for evaluating different options with a few different criteria. Nice that you’ve made it into an online tool. I’ve used a similar approach with a spreadsheet too.
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