What is a Decision Matrix? Definition & Examples💭

  • Remote Working & Freelancing
Contra Tips
· 8 min read

Learn all about decision matrices and how to use them to help choose the best option, no matter the situation.

Life is full of tough choices. Should you take that new job offer or stick with your current role? Which car best fits your needs and budget? And let's not forget what’s arguably the most important question of all: pizza or sushi for dinner? 

In the realm of decision-making, we all crave a magical tool that can guide us to the best option. Enter the decision matrix, the trusty sidekick in the quest for clarity. Think of it as a guide to help cut through the noise and make well-informed choices, whether you need to select the ideal candidate for a job or simply want to pick the perfect vacation destination.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll examine the ins and outs of decision matrices and provide an example that explains how to use them to effectively size up all the options so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

What is a decision matrix? 🤔

Also known as decision grids, grid analyses, or Pugh matrices (named after English design engineer and professor Stuart Pugh), decision matrices offer a structured way to evaluate and compare multiple options by assigning weights to different criteria and assessing them.

Decision matrix example 🔍

Let’s take a look at a decision matrix example where a client has to choose between three designer candidates to collaborate with. 

First, the client identifies their decision matrix criteria: quality of work, creativity, price, and communication. They then assign a percentage that correlates to the criteria’s importance. In this scenario, quality of work is the most important, at 30%, followed by price and communication at 25% each, and creativity at 20%.

Next, the client scores the three candidates 1–5 in each category (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest).

To calculate the scores, the client multiplies the ratings of each option by the corresponding weight of each category and then adds them:

Let’s calculate the scores for Candidate A:

Score for Candidate A = (quality of work rating * weight) + (creativity rating * weight) + (price rating * weight) + (communication rating * weight)

= (4 * 0.3)  + (5 * 0.20) + (2 * 0.25) + (4*0.25)

= 1.2 + 1 + 0.5 + 1

= 3.7

Similarly, the client would calculate Candidate B and Candidate C using the same approach. The option with the highest score would be the most suitable choice based on the specified criteria.

So, with a total score of 3.95, Candidate B would be the best option in this scenario.

When to use a decision matrix 🤓

Whether you’re an Independent sizing up job opportunities or a business owner comparing multiple freelance candidates, you can utilize decision matrices to compare all the options in various situations. Here are six scenarios where they can help you feel more confident when making your final choice:

  • Product or service selection: When choosing among different products or services, a decision matrix helps compare their features, cost, performance, and other relevant criteria.
  • Project prioritization: In project management, decision matrices can be used to prioritize projects based on factors such as potential benefits, resource requirements, risks, and alignment with organizational goals.
  • Vendor selection: When a company needs to choose a vendor or supplier, a decision matrix helps evaluate each vendor based on their offerings, pricing, quality, delivery capabilities, and customer service.
  • Job candidate assessment: During a job hiring process, decision matrices can assist in comparing candidates based on qualifications, experience, skills, and company fit.
  • Investment analysis:  In the finance sector, decision grids can aid in comparing investment opportunities by evaluating factors such as potential returns, risk levels, liquidity, and long-term growth prospects.
  • Problem-solving: Decision matrices can be utilized to assess different solutions to a problem or challenge, considering factors such as feasibility, effectiveness, cost, and impact on stakeholders.

7 steps to create a decision matrix 👷

Creating a decision matrix template involves a few steps. You can use software like Excel or Sheets to organize and analyze the data. Here's how:

1. Think about what matters 🧠

Start by making a list of the things that matter in your decision. Consider things like cost, quality, time, and efficiency. Ensure all factors are present in your alternatives to effectively compare them.

2: Decide what’s important 💡

Once you have your list, give each factor a weight based on how important it is to you. This shows which ones have a more significant impact on your decision. You can use percentages or a scale from one to 10 to assign the weights.

3. Set a rating scale 💯

Create a scale to rate each option against the criteria. This helps you measure how well each option performs. For example, you can use a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest.

4. List your options 📝

Make a list of all the different options you have. These could be other solutions, services, products, freelance opportunities, or job candidates.

5. Evaluate and rate 🖋️

Look at each option and rate it based on how well it meets each criterion. It’s vital to be fair and objective in your evaluation. If you’re having a tough time, consider seeking advice from peers to help you with the ratings.

6. Weigh your options ⚖️

Multiple the ratings of each option by their respective weight, helping you calculate the weighted scores for each option.

7. Find the total scores 🧮

Now, add up the weighted scores for each option — the one with the highest total score is usually the best based on the criteria you set.

12 key considerations ☝️

When creating a decision matrix, there are several critical factors to keep in mind to ensure an effective evaluation:

  • Clear criteria: Having clearly defined criteria allows for focused evaluation and ensures that decisions are based on relevant factors. This reduces ambiguity, improves objectivity, enables a systematic evaluation, and provides a structured approach.
  • Weighted criteria: Assigning weights to criteria reflects their relative impact, helping prioritize factors that matter most in the decision-making process. This helps align decisions with goals and objectives, facilitates resource allocation, enhances consistency and fairness, and highlights key priorities.
  • Consistent rating scales: Using consistent rating scales ensures uniformity in evaluation options against criteria, making comparisons more accurate and reliable. This helps minimize biases, ensure standardized evaluation, and enhance transparency and objectivity.
  • Measurable criteria: Using criteria that are quantifiable and measurable allows for objective assessments and clearer comparisons between options. It provides tangible data, supports evidence-based evaluation, provides a basis for quantitative analysis, and facilitates benchmarking and performance tracking.
  • Trade-off analysis: Considering trade-offs between criteria helps identify potential conflicts and assess how different options perform under different scenarios. This helps determine the best compromise because it considers multiple perspectives, guides in finding the optimal solutions, and enhances understanding of consequences.
  • Stakeholder involvement: Involving relevant stakeholders brings diverse perspectives and insights into the decision-making process. This incorporates different viewpoints, builds consensus and support, enhances the quality of decisions through collective knowledge, increases stakeholder satisfaction and engagement, and promotes effective communication and collaboration.
  • Expert input: Seeking input from experts brings specialized knowledge and expertise, enriching the evaluation of options and criteria. This provides a broader understanding of the subject matter, reduces biases and blind spots, leverages specialized knowledge and expertise, and adds depth and accuracy.
  • Long-term impact assessment: Evaluating the long-term implications of each option against criteria ensures decisions align with future goals and minimize negative consequences. This reduces the risk of short-sighted decisions, considers sustainability, identifies potential risks and opportunities, and maximizes long-term value and benefits.
  • Risk analysis: Incorporating risk analysis as a criterion helps identify and evaluate potential risks associated with each option. This mitigates potential negative impacts, reduces uncertainty and surprises, and enhances proactive decision-making.
  • Manageable complexity: Limiting the number of criteria and options to a manageable level prevents decision overload and maintains clarity in the evaluation process. This helps streamline decision-making by focusing on key factors and reducing decision fatigue to improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Regular review and updates: Periodically reviewing and updating the decision matrix ensures its relevance and alignment with changing circumstances. This allows for continuous improvement by accommodating evolving needs to maintain the accuracy and effectiveness of the matrix.
  • Judgment and intuition: Recognize that a decision matrix is a brilliant tool for decision-making. That said, allowing room for personal judgment and intuition allows a holistic approach to decision-making. It considers contextual factors, allows flexibility and adaptation to unique situations, and incorporates subjective insights.

Find options to fill your decision matrix with Contra 👯

Whether you're a freelancer or a business owner looking to grow with the help of Independents, decision matrices can help assess all the options on the table so that you can ultimately and confidently go with what’s best for you. When it comes to filling your list of options, look no further than Contra. Join our community of Independents to showcase your skills, collaborate with like-minded professionals, and revolutionize your freelance career.

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