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Prioritization Matrix: Concept and Applications in Project Planning

written by: SparkKD • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 7/4/2011

This article describes a prioritization matrix, what it represents, how to create one, and how it can be utilized as an effective tool for Project Planning. Its applications in brainstorming are explained on how it can be used to identify the problems to be addressed.

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    What is a Prioritization Matrix?

    A prioritization matrix is one of the Project Planning Tools which is used during brainstorming to evaluate a number of issues based upon certain criteria and arrive at a prioritized list of items. It helps to consider the opinion of everyone in a brainstorming session, as well as give due weightage to various criteria and prioritize pressing problems over others. This helps determine which problems need to be solved first in order to meet project / organizational objectives.

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    People, Place and Purpose for using a Prioritization Matrix

    People: This represents the entire team or the problem solving project group which is trying to arrive at a consensus.

    Place: This represents the brainstorming session.

    Purpose: The purpose behind using the Prioritization Matrix is to identify which are the more pressing issues which need to be addressed first.

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    Simple Prioritization Matrix Vs. a Weighted Prioritization Matrix

    A simple prioritized matrix is one in which each factor has an equal weightage while a weighter prioritized matrix is one in which some factors may be more important than others and may therefore be given a higher weightage. A weighted prioritization matrix is more commonly used as it has more relevant widespread applications (because some evaluation criteria are usually more important than others).

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    Steps Involved in creating a Prioritization Matrix

    The steps involved in creating a Prioritization Matrix are as follows


    • Identify the problems which need to be addressed. Create a list of problems to be discussed.
    • Identify the key criteria on the basis of which these problems are to be evaluated. Also, determine the relative weightage given to each criteria.

    Draw the Prioritization Matrix Chart (as indicated in the sample given below)

    • In the first column, list down the problems which have been identified in the brainstorming session.
    • From the 2nd column onwards, list down the criteria for evaluation along with their weightage (if any).

    Ranking the Problems

    • Make all the participants rank each of the problems on a pre-determined scale against each of the evaluation criteria.
    • Repeat this process if required to obtain multiple votes from each participant.

    Total the results

    • Compute the total ranking for each problem.
    • This helps obtain a prioritized list of problems to work upon.

    Prioritization Matrix is one of the Project Planning Tools which is also utilized in the Improve Phase of the DMAIC Process.

    For further reference please read this detailed example of a weighted prioritization matrix.

    A sample structure for a Prioritization Matrix with 3 criteria is given below.

    Prioritization Matrix Structure