Prioritization Matrix

Prioritization Matrix is a graphical tool that provides a way to sort a diverse set of items into an order of importance.

The matrix sorts and ranks various items or options into an order of importance using weighted criteria. By using this technique, you are able to identify which items or options are the most important and which are the least important. Thus, you can get the most important (or priority) items done first. This tool is especially useful in project planning.


About a Prioritization Matrix

A Prioritization Matrix graphically displays options and criteria in row and column format. The matrix ranks options based on criteria that you determine to be important. These criteria are weighted based on their assessed importance. By selecting and weighing criteria you are able to quickly highlight the best options.

Weights are assigned to each criteria. Each criteria will be given a numerical value. By deriving a numerical value for its priority, you are able to identify a criteria or item’s relative importance. Thus, allowing you to select and prioritize certain items or options over others. The process helps you narrow your options and compare choices in a systematic approach.


Steps to Create a Prioritization Matrix

Create the list of items to be prioritized


Determine the criteria which may be used to judge how well each item on the list serves to meet the objective.


Weight the Criteria

  • Compare relative importance of each criterion
  • Judge the relative importance of each criterion compared to every other criterion. To do that, make an L-shaped matrix with all the criteria listed on both the horizontal and the vertical legs of the L.
  • Prioritize the criteria
  • Assess the relative importance of each criterion compared to every other criterion
  • Establish criteria weight

Weight examples:

5 = The criterion is significantly more important
4 = The criterion is more important
3 = The criterion being considered is equally important when assessed against the other criterion you are comparing it to
2 = The criterion is less important
1 = The criterion is significantly less important


Construct a matrix

  • Construct a matrix with options or issues down the left column and selection criteria across the top.
  • In the first column, list down the options which have been identified.
  • From the 2nd column onwards, list down the criteria for evaluation.
  • Add the weights for each criterion


Score the options

  • Assessing one criterion at a time, rate the option on each of the criteria
  • Multiply the rating for each criteria by its weight and record the weighted value.
  • Add up the weighted values
  • After evaluating the items against all of the criteria, add up the weighted values to determine the total score.


Prioritize the list

  • After options have been scored, create a list of prioritized options.
  • The rows with the highest sums are the items of highest priority.


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