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Better Decision Making: 10 Essential Steps for a Winning Decision Matrix!

11 min read
Bitrix24 Team
April 12, 2024
Last updated: April 12, 2024
Better Decision Making: 10 Essential Steps for a Winning Decision Matrix!

The decision matrix is a powerful but often misunderstood tool for improving key decisions that make up an overall strategy. It helps simplify complex decisions and adds a layer of objectivity to the process, so you can be more confident in your project management planning abilities.

But what is a decision matrix and how do you create one?

Essentially a series of checks and balances, a decision matrix is a framework that allows you to accurately and systematically choose between different options. Using a decision matrix for project management removes human bias and speeds up your decision-making process so you can be more productive, achievable, and in line with your overall goals.

This article shows you how to make a decision matrix, from the initial definition to the review of the process. By following these steps, you'll understand the value of a matrix and how to leverage it as a tangible competitive advantage.

1. Define your decision: What do you want to achieve and why?

Any decision matrix you apply to make a decision requires the foundational step of defining said decision. It sets the direction of all your subsequent actions so the entire evaluation process can remain aligned with your goals.

Start by applying the classic question words to the decision:

  • What is the specific problem or opportunity

  • Why does it need to be addressed?

  • Who will be affected by this decision?

  • How will it contribute to your organizational goals?

Clarifying all of these questions helps you prevent scope creep and keeps your decision-making process on track. In this decision matrix example, the more precise you can get, the better. For example, deciding on "the most cost-effective marketing strategy for Q2" is more actionable and specific than deciding on "how to improve marketing".

As well as guiding you on what decisions to make, this kind of multi-criteria decision-making also reveals what decisions to not make. For example, if you are deciding whether to collaborate with another company, but the collaboration won’t contribute to your organizational goals, it’s not worth pursuing.

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2. Identify criteria: Which factors are important to the decision?

Now you’ve got a clear idea of the choice you want to make, the next step in our decision matrix is to list the criteria you’re going to use to evaluate your alternatives. Your option evaluation matrix should reflect factors specific to each situation, so don’t be surprised if they vary considerably from one decision to the next.

Let’s look at an example of choosing a new customer relationship management software tool. To ensure you get a comprehensive and inclusive list of criteria, it’s best to get a team together and channel your decision-making matrix through a brainstorming session. Multi-criteria decision-making lays the groundwork for an analytical decision matrix that doesn’t let important elements fall through the cracks, but there is a limit to the number of criteria you can consider.

To help condense your criteria, the Eisenhower decision matrix allows you to categorize them into four quadrants:

  • Important and urgent: These should be prioritized highest in your decision matrix.

  • Important but not urgent: These factors should still hold considerable weight in the decision matrix.

  • Urgent but not important: These should be carefully evaluated to prevent them from overshadowing more significant factors.

  • Neither urgent nor important: These can often be minimized or completely omitted from the decision matrix to streamline the process.

Using the Eisenhower decision matrix, you can discard irrelevant criteria and shortlist more important aspects for consideration.

Eisenhower decision matrix

3. Weigh criteria: Assigning a level of importance to each criterion

As you identify criteria, it will quickly become apparent that some aspects are critical, while others require less attention. Criteria weighting in decision-making acknowledges these differences in importance and allows you to prioritize the criteria based on their significance relative to each other.

A weighted decision matrix can be a rather simple procedure. One prioritization matrix technique is to assign a number for each criterion from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the highest importance. To make the process as scientific as possible, provide information such as customer feedback and sales analytics so everybody works using data rather than a hunch. You can also avoid loud voices from influencing the criteria by using anonymous voting tools for more objective weighting.

Of course, some decision matrix examples require less scientific intervention. For instance, small businesses with few resources are often constrained by budget. Therefore, if you have to implement a new sales platform, it may be obvious to put less weight on implementation time and a higher weight on budget control.

4. List alternatives: Writing down all options for a more informed decision

With your decision defined and your criteria in place, it’s time to look at all the possible alternatives you have to your decision. It is very easy to simply consider the obvious, route-one options, but one role of a decision matrix is to consider every possible pathway so you can be confident in making the correct decision.

We are firmly in “no wrong answers” territory here. Even options that seem almost unviable at the beginning can reveal themselves to be a golden ticket once they’ve gone through an option evaluation matrix.

To keep track of your alternatives and to promote collaboration, use shared documents on the cloud so everybody can see and contribute to the list in real time. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from outside your organization. Benchmarking against industry standards, consulting with external experts, and reviewing competitor case studies can all reveal options not previously considered by your team.

5. Score your alternatives: How well does each option meet each criterion?

The next step in our process of evaluating options with a decision matrix is matching your alternatives with your criteria. It is very likely that you already use a form of scoring in your business. For instance, AI lead scoring will assess specific data points from new leads (your alternatives) and cross-reference them with the criteria of your ideal client. The decision-making matrix then channels each lead to a specific action based on their scoring.

As a real-world example, choosing a marketing agency is a perfect situation for you to apply scoring. While it is easy to be seduced by a big-name brand with high-ticket clients, it is more effective to assess multiple different options on the criteria that are important for you. Big names usually come with high prices, which would see them score low on the budget criterion. Similarly, you may get more personalized attention and meeting time from a boutique agency, rather than an all-in-one behemoth, so consider whether this is a more significant priority.

6. Calculate weighted scores: Getting the data you need to make your decision

So now you’ve got your scoring system in place, we’re going to look at how to make a decision matrix with calculated weighted scores for each alternative. Essentially, for each alternative, you take the score assigned for a criterion and multiply it by the criterion's weight. The result is the weighted score for that criterion. You repeat this process for all criteria for each alternative. This method ensures that the priorities established during the weighting phase directly influence the overall evaluation of each option.

Let’s look at an example of selecting an online business platform. If cost is weighted as 40%, reliability 30%, customer support 20%, and ease of use 10%, and Option A scores 8 on cost, 9 on reliability, 7 on customer support, and 6 on ease of use, the weighted scores would be calculated as follows:

  • Cost: 8 (score) * 0.4 (weight) = 3.2

  • Reliability: 9 * 0.3 = 2.7

  • Customer support: 7 * 0.2 = 1.4

  • Ease of use: 6 * 0.1 = 0.6

  • Total weighted score = 3.2 + 2.7 + 1.4 + 0.6 = 7.9

10 Essential Steps for a Winning Decision Matrix!

7. Analyze scores: Comparing options based on their weighted scores

Once you’ve calculated each alternative using criteria weighting in decision-making, the next step is to analyze the scores comparatively. Using objective scores to compare options helps you make better decisions that are based on how well they meet your criteria, rather than on personal preference.

Going back to our online business platform selection, we know that Option A received a total weighted score of 7.9. So let’s compare it against Options B and C.

  • Option A = 7.9

  • Option B = 8.1

  • Option C = 6.8

These scores show that Option B is the best alternative according to your weighted criteria, followed by Option A, with Option C quite far behind.

Mapping your results on decision analysis tools like a visual datasheet reveals an objective optimum alternative, which is where the true power of a weighted decision matrix lies. By removing personal biases and structuring your criteria, you reduce the time taken to make decisions while improving the quality.

8. Consider trade-offs: Evaluating the pros and cons of top-scoring options

You may have noticed that Options A and B scored very closely in the previous section. When this happens, one of the best practices for decision matrices is to run a critical evaluation of trade-offs among your top-scoring alternatives.

When considering your quantitative criteria, you looked at the major areas of importance for your decision without creating an exhaustive list. Now that you have two options with similar scores, you can look into qualitative factors beyond your key criteria. For instance, Option B might score highly on cost and ease of use, but Option A could be more beneficial in the long run as your team grows and you need extra features.

Evaluating trade-offs also requires you to include stakeholder opinions in your decision matrix. Different groups within an organization may be affected differently by the decision. Therefore, leverage feedback forms that feed into a centralized database so you can identify potentially hidden opinions that could help you refine your decision between two similar options.

9. Make your decision: Running a quick checklist to give you confidence in your decision

After carefully evaluating the alternatives, considering trade-offs, and engaging stakeholders, the penultimate step in the decision matrix process is to actually make the decision. The decision should reflect a balance between quantitative analysis and qualitative insights, and a quick checklist can help guarantee this balance.

  • Synthesize your information by revisiting the scores, trade-offs and any other feedback from stakeholders.

  • Confirm that your decision aligns with your objectives. When using a decision matrix for project management, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, so check that your decision contributes to your overall goals.

  • Leverage decision-making tools such as datasheets and graphs, which confirm your decision and support your communication.

  • Communicate your decision to relevant stakeholders to rally support. Include the rationale behind the choice, how it aligns with the organization's goals, and any next steps or actions required to implement the decision.

10 Essential Steps for a Winning Decision Matrix!

10. Review the process: Reflecting on your progress to garner best practices for decision matrices

Post-decision analysis is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of the process, learning from the experience, and making improvements for future decisions. This step isn’t just about reviewing the decision itself — you’ll look at each step of the decision matrix methodology.

Stakeholder feedback is a great place to start for your analysis. For example, you can examine the accuracy of criteria weights and overall satisfaction with the outcome. From a more data-focused perspective, you can measure the time each step took. Did your criteria identification stage overrun because of too many individual inputs? Could you speed up scoring calculations with automations?

Implementing enhancements can fall through the cracks — especially if you don’t have a key decision to make soon. Therefore, we’d recommend putting your new best practices into place as part of the review process. Project management software is the ideal place to lay out the steps you need to take to evaluate options with a decision matrix template. Then, when the time comes to make another decision, you can fire up your template in an instant, avoid heaps of admin, and get to work right away.

Bitrix24: Your springboard to better decisions

Mastering the decision matrix process is a silver bullet for informed, strategic decision-making. However, with the right decision analysis tools at hand, you can discover how to create a decision matrix that helps you make better decisions in a fraction of the time.

Bitrix24 is the perfect base for your decision-making process, with all the essential features in one place. With collaborative documents, task management software, and detailed performance analytics, we’ve got you covered for every step of the decision matrix journey.

So if you want to bring a new lease of confidence to your decision-making, sign up for Bitrix24 today.

Struggling With Decision-Making And Wondering How Decision Matrix Could Simplify The Process?

Transform your strategic planning with Bitrix24's detailed performance analytics and collaborative documents. Dive into the platform and master the decision matrix for better outcomes.

Try Now

FAQs

What is a decision matrix and when should you use it?

A decision matrix is a tool for comparing multiple options against a set of criteria to make informed decisions. It's best used when facing complex choices involving various factors and outcomes, and ensures a structured and objective approach to decision-making.

How do you assign weights and scores in a decision matrix?

In a decision matrix, you assign weights to criteria based on their importance, and scores are given to each option's performance against those criteria. Multiply each score by the criterion's weight to calculate weighted scores to compare your options objectively.

Can a decision matrix help in both personal and professional decision-making?

Yes, a decision matrix can be valuable in both personal and professional decision-making. No matter the subject, matrices offer a structured framework to evaluate options against the criteria that matter most. This gives you clear, objective decisions in diverse scenarios, from choosing a career path to selecting the right software for business.

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Table of Content
1. Define your decision: What do you want to achieve and why? 2. Identify criteria: Which factors are important to the decision? 3. Weigh criteria: Assigning a level of importance to each criterion 4. List alternatives: Writing down all options for a more informed decision 5. Score your alternatives: How well does each option meet each criterion? 6. Calculate weighted scores: Getting the data you need to make your decision 7. Analyze scores: Comparing options based on their weighted scores 8. Consider trade-offs: Evaluating the pros and cons of top-scoring options 9. Make your decision: Running a quick checklist to give you confidence in your decision 10. Review the process: Reflecting on your progress to garner best practices for decision matrices Bitrix24: Your springboard to better decisions FAQs
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