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The Decision Matrix

One of the biggest struggles you might face in running a business or department is decision making. Often you have more than one possibility to choose from, and in those circumstances, a decision matrix can help clarify your options and guide you towards the points that have the most impact on your final decision.

A decision matrix is a way of arranging and analysing all the potential solutions to your issue. It can help you organise and clarify your different options and can remove the subjectivity from your decision. It helps you consider each of the factors and criteria that are used to guide you to a final conclusion.

How to Develop a Decision Matrix

A decision matrix is simply a table, with the different options listed as the rows, and the factors that need to be considered, that might affect your decision are listed in the columns. Examples of these factors might be cost, time or effectiveness. You then need to develop a scale to rate the value of each option and factor combination. You also give each combination a weighted ranking to help you decide how important that factor should be in making your final decision.

Then, multiply your original ratings by the weighted rankings to get a score. All of the factors under each option should then be added up.  The highest scoring option is the decision that should be made or the first item addressed.

Example of Decision Matrix

This is an example taken from work done by author, Nancy Tague on Decision Matrices.

Let us consider a restaurant that is suffering from long waits by customers. In analysing the situation, these delays can be split into four types:

  • Wait to be seated
  • Wait to be served drinks
  • Wait to be served food
  • Wait for the bill

We place these in the rows of the decision matrix.

The different criteria to consider might be:

  • Customer pain
  • Ease to solve
  • Effect on other systems in the restaurant
  • Speed to solve

These are the columns of the matrix.

Then we rate each of the options for each factor from 1 (not important) to 3 (extremely important). You can decide these ratings yourself, you might prefer to use 1-5, but you do need to be consistent. The table below shows our ratings:

Customer Pain Ease to Solve Effect on Other Systems Speed to Solve
Wait to be Seated

   3

High – nothing else to do while waiting

2

Medium – involves front of house staff

 3

High – gets customer off to a bad start

3

High – Observation shows empty tables available

Wait to be Served Drinks

2

Medium – can look at menu

2

Medium – involves front of house staff

2

Medium – customer feels unattended

1

Low – waiters involved in many activities

Wait to be Served Food

2

Medium – ambience is nice

1

Low – involves
kitchen staff

2

Medium – might result in extra trips to kitchen for waiter

1

Low- kitchen
has space issues

Wait for the Bill

 1

Low – can relax with coffee and mints

 2

Medium – involves front of house staff

2

Medium – other customers might notice

1

Low – computer system needs to be updated

 

Now we need to decide how important each of our factors is to us. As a restaurant, the pain of our customers is the most important factor to consider, so that gets a ranking of 5. The ease and the speed of solving the issue are both ranked 2, and the effect on other systems is less important to us so ranked 1.

We multiply the rankings by each rating already decided and then add the rows to come up with a total for each problem.

 

Customer Pain 
Ranking 5
Ease to Solve 
Ranking 2
Effect on other systems 
Ranking 1
Speed to solve
Ranking 2

Total
Wait to be  seated 3 x 5 = 15 2 x 2 = 4 3 x 1 = 3 3 x 2 = 6 28
Wait to be served drinks 2 x 5 = 10 2 x 2 = 4 2 x 1 = 2 1 x 2 = 2 18
Wait to be served food 2 x 5 =10 1 x 2 = 2 2 x 1 = 2 1 x 2 = 2 16
Wait for the bill 1 x 5 = 5 2 x 2 = 4 2 x 1 = 2 1 x 2 = 2 13

 

So having worked through all of our problems and factors, we can see that the one we need to focus on first is the customers ‘wait to be seated’ as this had the highest score. So using the decision matrix technique has successfully helped us to decide where to focus our efforts on improving our restaurant.

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