The Decision Matrix Template is used to simplify a decision making process and prevent emotional, gut decisions. In short, a decision matrix template helps users grades a set of options against a set of criteria.
This template, like most decision matrix templates, includes a weighting system. It puts additional value on the scores of selected criteria, so the most important factors carry additional weight in the final decision.
Going through a systematic process such as this reduces the potential for pet projects to be chosen over others, or for unpopular ones to be immediately discounted.
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The downside of using a decision making template is that it takes time. Each option must be scored against each criterion, so if 6 options are stacked against 5 criteria, 30 scores are needed. If the decision matrix template is filled out in a group, that turns a single discussion in potentially 30 separate discussion. Plus there is the challenge of agreeing on criteria and weighting.
On the upside, those 30 discussion are far simpler than the discussion would be if it was just to select the final decision.
One word of warning: Before starting any scoring, make sure that all decision makers are bought into the weighting system. If you skip this step, you will be more likely to have people challenge the final decision.
Scoring can be a simple consensus, or it can be a more sophisticated system of creating scoring tables and collecting data for each option. Your scoring can be done on any scale you want, but a 1-10 system or a 1-3-9 scale are commonly used. The first is self explanatory. The second is to limit the discussion. Bad scores a 1, OK scores a 3, and good scores a 9. (Note: I prefer the 1-10 scale.)
There are some risks to using a decision matrix template.
Adding several related criteria can inadvertently increase a score. For example, if you are selecting a dog, ‘cleanliness’ and ‘limited shedding’ may overlap enough to change the intended scoring system
The weighting system is subject to bias. People tend to push for extra weight in the criteria that they know their preferred option will score well in.
Changing scores or weights. While any result should be scrutinized for validity, be careful about adjusting the system or the scores to reorder the options. It undermines the whole purpose of using a decision matrix.
Dismissing the results. There is a good deal of effort that goes into creating a decision matrix. Leaders must be careful about going through a process such as this, and then discarding the results when they don’t turn out as expected.