A priority matrix is a management tool for determining the development vector where priorities are visually divided into four (or more) quadrants.
There are matrices for personal time management and complex business projects. Most of them have derived from the Eisenhower matrix created to manage personal tasks.
Use an action priority matrix when you have limited resources and you want to distribute them rationally to maximize performance and ROI.
Placing backlog tasks into four quadrants will help you visualize their impact on the main business objectives. Focus the team efforts on one of the four quadrants to have a clear understanding of where you’re heading, what results, and when to expect.
One of the most efficient and easy to use is the 2x2 matrix. It consists of two evaluation criteria: one positive (e.g., Value, Impact, or Revenue) and one negative(e.g., Effort, Costs, or Risk).
Tasks evaluated by the criteria are divided into four quadrants:
Do you have deadlines, and time is critical? Or you must avoid risks at all costs?
Two criteria are enough for a fast and simple prioritization. Yet, they aren’t enough for complex projects where you must consider and juggle multiple stages of user behavior or business objectives. We in Ducalis.io estimate all the vital elements for our product and just filter the matrix by the criteria we need more focus on at some point in time.
What numbers will your team use when estimating the criteria?
Each criterion should be evaluated by the same numbers with prescribed interpretation. We use numbers from 0 to 3 where 0—no impact, 1—low impact, 2—medium impact, 3—high impact.
Who takes part in the project and can bring a unique perspective to the table? Does the project require only engineers or designers and copywriters’ efforts as well?
Considering each task by the whole team strengthens your shared understanding and gives the best prioritization results. In our team, managers evaluate feature Reach and Revenue, engineers and UX/UI—Development Time, and everybody must estimate Activation, Retention, and two product-specific criteria, Speed and Collaboration.
Why have these features made it to the top? Do you all agree they are most valuable now and must be implemented?
Never take the prioritization result into work unquestioningly. Prioritization is a tool to help you make the right decisions and not make them instead of you. Discuss your top priorities with the team at the planning meeting and make sure you all understand what must be done, why this way, and why it’s important.
A priority matrix is simple and efficient. You can make it far more powerful by using automation tools. Ducalis.io allows you to create a complex prioritization framework you can use both as a weighted decision matrix and action priority matrix and switch the criteria focus in no time.
Try our matrix templates. Free to sign up and free to use. No credit cards. Just jump in and prioritize for your growth.
Download the Google Sheets Decision Matrix and learn how to use it for collaborative task prioritization in your team.
In the guide below, learn how to:
Top priority issues appear in the Total tab. The Total Value is calculated by the formula:
Total Value = Criterion 1 * Factor 1 + Criterion 2 * Factor 2 + Criterion 3 * Factor 3 + Criterion N * Factor N.
Issues with a high number of scores will be at the top of the list. Determine the number of tasks your team can add to their future sprint. The weighted decision matrix spreadsheet has 20 issues highlighted in the Total tab. You can change the number of top issues using the conditional formatting function.
Go to your team tab to estimate the issues. Evaluate each issue by each criterion assigning scores from 0 to 3 where:
Decide the evaluation workflow with the teams. We evaluate issues once a week on Fridays—our prioritization day.
This template is set up for Jira. You can customize it for Asana, Trello, or any other issue tracker, but it may require more tweaking from you. Just export the issues from your PM tool in CSV and paste the data into the spreadsheet.
Each issue has a link to Jira so that you can open it and read the description.
You can try connecting the spreadsheet with your issue tracker with some tools. Here is our guide on how to integrate Jira with Google Sheets via Zapier or Automate.io.
Prioritization in the Google Sheets spreadsheets may seem easy at first. But after some time, you’ll probably start having problems like issue import crashing, lots of duplicated or lost data rows, the spreadsheet freezing when several people evaluate at once. Plus, teams forgetting to evaluate at all.
We even had a Google Sheets admin who was continually fixing the formula and all else. After two months of suffering, we’ve made our own prioritization tool—Ducalis.
Ducalis is fast and stable. Formulas never crash, criteria easily edited, and notifications create a prioritization habit for your team. And there are even more features not just to prioritize tasks but to build solid shared understanding in the whole team.
Use Ducalis as a spreadsheet to add tasks manually or import tasks with a csv file. The best option is to integrate your task tracker, and the tasks will get uploaded and updated in Ducalis in real-time.
→Try the Weighted Decision Matrix template straight in Ducalis. Save yourself a few months of struggles with Sheets.
Numerical scoring for prioritizing initiatives by multiple data layers.