Prioritisation Matrices

What is Prioritisation Matrice?

Prioritisation Matrices are a useful technique to identify which issues are the most important to work on solving first. Prioritisation matrices help teams rank issues or solutions generated through brainstorming, using criteria that are important to the project and/or service. 

Two prioritisation matrices commonly used are: 

The Action Priority Matrix requires teams to assess issues/solutions against the impact and effort needed, then plot issues/solutions on a 2x2 matrix.  

The Decision Matrix evaluates and prioritises a list of options against criteria the team has established, then evaluates each option against those criteria. A decision matrix is particularly useful when one improvement opportunity or problem must be selected to work on.

When can we use a priority matrix

  • Before implementing change - at the 'define and improve' phases when prioritising or seeking consensus about an issue or proposed solution.  
  • When identifying issues or solutions more likely to lead to improvement.
  • When making decisions about which focus areas need to be worked on.
  • When prioritising effort to ensure long term positive impact.

How do we use an Action Priority Matrix

  1. Brainstorm, then list the issues/solutions for improvement.
  2. Score the activities based on their impact and the effort (0 = none, 10 = max) required to complete them. 
  3. Tally the scores and plot the activities on your Priority Matrix Grid based on their scores.

Prioritise the issues/solutions to work on:

  • Quick Wins get the highest priority.
  • Focus the remaining time on Major Projects.
  • Address the Fill In activities when there is time and capacity. 
  • Outsource or eliminate Hard Slogs.


How do we use a Decision Matrix

  1. Brainstorm, then list the issues /solutions for improvement.
  2. Brainstorm evaluation criteria appropriate to the improivement project. If possible, involve service users in this process.
  3. Narrow criteria down to those that the team believes are most important (through consensus or voting). Aim for 5 or less criteria.
  4. List each issue/solution in a table with the agreed criteria by column along the top row. 
  5. Score each issue/solution against the criteria from 1-5
    (1 = not much or low; 5 = a lot or very high)
  6. Add (or multiply) the scores for each issue/solution. The ones with the highest scores are generally prioritised first.