The Decision Matrix – A Product Manager’s Tool
Over the years of managing projects I have learned that sometimes a decision needs to be made from a set of options that are all good choices. This is why I find the decision matrix to be one of the most helpful tools in assessing options. The decision matrix assigns weight to each solution characteristic and asks you to evaluate how much each option contributes to that characteristic on a numerical scale of 1 to 5. The image below shows you how a decision matrix would be used.
To run through it quickly, it is important to assign a higher weight to the characteristics that are most important. In this case the product revenue is more important than number of products launched (here called front list regarding publications), which was more important than the project managers opinion, or better know as experience score.
It goes like this: Assign a score to each option. Multiply by weight and total each option in the last box. In this example two decisions have weight the same. Conditional formatting is used to make the total more visual – note that these are possibly all good options.
The decision matrix, as in this case, may produces options that do not differ much from each other. Once you study the chart you will understand why this is helpful when you need to explain your choice. In this example, after some additional discussion with the sales team, option 4 was chosen, which has equal weight to option 1. The decision matrix allows for a much better answer when the boss asks, “Why did you choose an option that reduces product that will be launched?” And you can say, with more wisdom and foresight, that while option 4 would clearly lowered new product releases this year, the fit with the product strategy and projected increase in this year’s revenue, along with other insight contributed from the sale team, made option 4 clearly the best viable solution.
In this example a choice was made between two equal scoring options. Sometimes you may choose a lower scoring option when it is a more viable solution.
Remember, the decision matrix is a tool that helps you make better decisions. The option you ultimately choose is the option that you, with insight and collaboration with cross-functional teams, believe will have the most significant impact on a decision.