How to make impactful things

The best ideas on prioritization and decisions on what to do next.

Weighted Decision Matrix

Weighted Scoring Model

Numerical scoring for prioritizing initiatives by multiple data layers.

Steps:
  1. List the initiatives under consideration.
  2. Devise a set of cost-vs-benefit criteria to score each initiative.
  3. Determine the weights of each criterion by their importance.
  4. Assign individual scores for each initiative by each criterion.
  5. Multiply each score by the criterion weight.
  6. Add up the results for each initiative.
  7. Rank initiatives by their total score.

Weighted Decision Matrix Prioritization

All
Weighted Decision
Features
Marketing

Weighted prioritization based on your business-specific metrics and criteria.

What a priority matrix is

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.

A prioritized backlog visually divided into 2x2 matrix in Ducalis.io

When to use a priority matrix

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.

How the quadrants work

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:

  • Quadrant 1—high positive score and low negative score.
    This quadrant is often called Quick Wins, and its tasks are low-hanging fruit that will bring you positive results immediately. Most likely, you should do these tasks first.
  • Quadrant 2—high positive score and high negative score.
    Here are your Major Projects that won’t bring immediate results but are strategically valuable and should be considered on your roadmap.
  • Quadrant 3—low positive score and low negative score.
    These are so-called Fill-Ins—cheap solutions with no significant impact. These tasks should be further discussed and implemented only when you have extra resources.
  • Quadrant 4—low positive score and high negative score.
    These are Thankless Tasks. They bring little to no value and cost you a lot. Delete them or reconsider the solution to become more valuable.

How to create and use a priority matrix

1. Think of what is currently important to your business to come up with appropriate criteria.

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.

We hide some criteria to consider tasks influencing only the objective important now.

2. Decide on the score range.

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.

We use criteria tooltips so that we don't have to keep in mind what they and the scores mean.

3. Estimate all the necessary tasks together with the team.

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.

Most of the criteria we evaluate together to keep our shared understanding solid, and specific ones we leave to experts.

4. Study and discuss the prioritization results.

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.

To Sum Up

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.
weighted decision matrix template
There are a few example issues in the spreadsheet.
Get the Template

How to Prioritize with the Weighted Decision Matrix Template

In the guide below, learn how to:

  • Customize teams, criteria, formula, and the number of priorities.
  • Add issues from your backlog and evaluate them collaboratively.

1. Customize Teams

  • Rename the tabs with the teams that will evaluate the issues. The template has two teams: Product Managers and Devs.
  • Go to the tab Factors and change the team names there also.

2. Customize Criteria

  • The spreadsheet has example criteria in the Factors tab. You can use them or change to yours. Our criteria examples:
Product Managers Team
  1. Money—Influences the money income.
  2. Activation—Helps to understand how the product works.
  3. Retention—Increase user's motivation to use the product again.
  4. Service—Helps us spend on customer support less time without quality loss.
  5. Ads—Increase the amount of Facebook Ads a user launches via our product. Important for Facebook Marketing Partnership.
  6. Posting—Helps to create more templates or custom posts. Shows the advantage of posting and analysis via the tool. Customers post more via the service.
  7. Reach—How many customers or product units or how much money this feature will affect.
Developers Team
  1. Time—Time spent on development, complexity.
  2. Value—Importance for development and product.
  • Add each criterion a description in the Factors tab using comments. Add the descriptions in each team tab also so that users see them when evaluating. Don’t keep descriptions in separate tabs—no one likes switching.
  • Set each criterion weight from -3 to 3 in the Factors tab. Weight is a ratio showing the criterion's importance regarding the others. Criteria estimating efforts, like Time or Complexity, must have negative weight.

3. Set Up the Formula

  • The evaluation results appear in the Total tab. By default, the data is taken from columns A through O in the Factors tab. If there are more/fewer criteria, they must be added/removed from the formula.
Where the formula is
What should be changed
  • Issues with Done, In Review, Test, Bug, or Epic statuses do not fall into the Total by default. If you need to change this setting, add/remove the required statuses from the formula.

4. Determine the Top Priorities

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.

5. Evaluate the Issues

Go to your team tab to estimate the issues. Evaluate each issue by each criterion assigning scores from 0 to 3 where:

  • 0—No Impact
  • 1—Low Impact
  • 2—Medium Impact
  • 3—High Impact

Decide the evaluation workflow with the teams. We evaluate issues once a week on Fridays—our prioritization day.

How to add existing issues to the decision matrix

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.

For Jira

  1. Go to filters. Create a filter for the project with the issues you need to prioritize. Select all issues and all statuses. Make sure that the columns in the filter match the Google Sheets spreadsheet columns. Save the filter and export in CSV.
  1. Import as a new tab and copy all tasks to the Jira issues tab.

Add Jira Issue Links

Each issue has a link to Jira so that you can open it and read the description.

  1. Open any issue and copy the domain link ending with browse/.
  1. Add the link to the Jira Domain for links field on the Factors tab.

How to automate the weighted decision matrix

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.

Why Ducalis over spreadsheets.

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.

Example of issue evaluation in Ducalis

Read about other useful prioritization techniques