A prioritization matrix can help an organization make decisions by narrowing options down by systematically comparing choices through the selection, weighing, and application of criteria. Prioritization matrices:
- Quickly surface basic disagreements,
so disagreements can be resolved openly
- Force a team to narrow down all solutions from all solutions to the best solutions, which are more likely to increase chances for successful program implementation
- Limits "hidden agendas" by bringing decision criteria
to the forefront of a choice
- Increases follow-through by asking for consensus
after each step of the process
There are three ways to construct prioritization matrices, but this page will focus on the Full Analytical Criteria Method.
- Use this method in smaller groups (3-8 people)
- Requires consideration of few options (5-10 options)
- Requires consideration of few criteria (3-6 criteria)
- Requires team to have complete consensus
- Stakes may be high if plan fails
1. Set a Goal
The group needs to agree on the ultimate goal it would like to reach. You should produce a clear goal statement through consensus.
For this example, we'll use the following goal:
Choose the most enjoyable family vacation for the whole family.
2. Set Criteria
Create a list of criteria by reviewing available documents or guidelines. The team must come to a consensus on criteria, or the process is likely to fail.
In choosing our vacation, our criteria will be:
- Educational Value
- Diverse Activity
- Escape Reality
3. Weigh Criteria for Each Option
Use an L-shaped matrix to weigh each criterion against another, in order to decide which criteria are most important. Place one option (e.g., Disneyland) in the upper left corner of its own matrix.
- Reading across the vertical axis, compare each criterion to the criteria on the horizontal axis.
- Each time a weight is recorded in a row cell (1, 5, and 10), its reciprocal value is recorded in the corresponding column (1, 1/5 or 0.2, and 1/10 or 0.1). (Review the chart below to learn about criteria weights and what they signify.)
- Total each horizontal row, and convert it to a decimal value.
- Add all row totals to reach a grand total
- At the end of each horizontal row, take the row's total and divide it by the grand total to reach a relative decimal value. The relative decimal value is what you will use to compare options at the end of the exercise, in
|1 = Equally important
5 = More important
10 = Much more important
|0.2 = Less important
0.1 = Much less important
|Disneyland||Cost||Educ. Value||Diverse Activity||Escape Reality||Row Total||Relative Dec. Value|
Repeat this step with each option, until you have a criteria matrix for all of your choices, continually using the same criteria.
4. Weigh Options against Criteria
Using the same method as above, place each criterion in the upper left corner of its own matrix, and weigh options against each other.
|Cost||Disneyland||Gettysburg||New York City||Uncle Henry's||Row Total||Relative Dec. Value|
|New York City||0.2||0.1||X||0.1||0.4||0.01|
Repeat this step with each criterion, until you have an option matrix for all of your choices, continually using the same options.
5. Compare Options
Using an L-shaped summary matrix, compare each option based on all combined criteria.
- List all criteria on the horizontal axis, and all options on the vertical axis.
- In each matrix cell, multiply the "criteria weighting" of each criterion by the "option rating." This produces the option score.
- Add option scores across each row to reach a row total.
- Add all row totals to reach a grand total
- At the end of each horizontal row, take the row's total and divide it by the grand total to reach a relative decimal value.
|Educ. Value (0.28)||Diverse Activity (0.55)||Escape Reality (0.02)||Row Total||Relative Dec. Value|
|New York City||.01*.15
6. Choose the Best Option Across all Criteria
Compare the relative decimal values to decide which option is best.
|Public Health Memory Jogger|
|Mind Tools: Prioritization|
| NACCHO: Cooking Tasty Popcorn: Using an Old QI Tool in a
|Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department: Example Prioritization Matrix (page 11 of PDF: 221KB / 18 pages)|
|Healthy Kansas 2010: Strategy Prioritization Matrix (DOC: 278KB / 3 pages)|
|Public Health Memory Jogger
If you belong to a local health agency in Minnesota and would like a Memory Jogger free of charge, please contact the QI Unit.