Logo for usabiliTEST Prioritization Matrix online tool

Using Prioritization Matrix to achieve consensus


Logo for usabiliTEST Prioritization Matrix online tool Prioritization Matrix (a.k.a. Priority Matrix) is often mentioned along Six Sigma set of strategies, techniques, and tools for process improvement. It is widely used by teams and business management alike to number their priorities and optimize available resources. While this sounds very academic, this is a simple, yet effective approach you can use with your current or potential customers or with your team members to achieve consensus about issues, by arranging them in order of importance, based on a weighted criteria.

The tool was popularized by the former the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who used a version of it for prioritizing his tasks on the basis of their urgency. Eisenhower Matrix for Time Management used four quadrants according to what needed to be done at a particular time of day, and they were:

  1. Do
  2. Decide
  3. Delegate
  4. Eliminate

These quadrants were had two axis: Urgent and Important. “Important” and “Urgent” tasks received the highest priority level while the “Not Important” and “Not Urgent” were eliminated altogether.

How to use priority matrix software?

Before we get any deeper into what this simple tool does, and begin to prioritize your own items, please see below a couple of interactive prioritization matrix examples. This is what your test participants will use to layout their preferences. The first demo test is utilizing cards with text labels only and another one is using images. The system will then analyze the criteria matrix and combine individual participants' responses into a total score.

Anyone who has done some project management knows that you often have to consider two important factors: time and money. It is vital for your project success that the method you choose models a user-centered approach that prioritizes the fixes in a systematic and repeatable way. It is also critical that the approach you choose be cost-effective and reliable.

Example
You work on a complex web-based application that still has a few issues that need to be addressed. The project deadline is pretty tight yet it seems that everyone on your team is suggesting to tackle a different issue first, and provide pretty compelling supporting arguments. You can't waste any time and can't afford to make a wrong choice. You need to get everyone on the same page and quick...

Regardless of the method you pick, you have to:

  • Identify the problems
  • Create problem priority matrix based on importance of each criterion
  • Prioritize areas of improvement based on time and effort needed for fixing the problems
  • Design and implement the fixes

Creating prioritization matrices

usabiliTEST makes it easy to set-up your test. You can start with default prioritization matrix template, where the grid has two axix labled Frequesnce and Importance. You can use these or change to something that better fits your project.

The next step in getting your test ready is to collect all the options that we'll be prioritizing. If we go back to our web application example, you would collect all the tasks involved in user's successful usage of the tool, like:

  • Login
  • Update profile
  • Check email
  • Change password
  • Set alerts, etc.

At this point we'll focus on the content and start creating a list of individual articles that our participants will help us compare and sort from top down in the order of priority.

Screenshot of online prioritization matrix sorting exercise
Screenshot of prioritization matrix exercise page.

Once you analyzed the business processes and compiled a list of all user actions, you'll put each individual task into a separate “card” using usabiliTEST’s online Prioritization Matrix admin panel. Then you'll have your participants “drag and drop” those cards on a grid (see demo links above).

For example, you can sort tasks by Frequency and Effort or by selecting criteria applicable to your specific needs based on the knowledge of the process. Once the test is complete you can see clearly which issues are the most important to work on. Our proprietary system helps you rank various criteria by calculating weight scoring and produces a priority list on the fly. If needed, individual selections are also available.

Whatever your goal is, whether it is project prioritization or customer satisfaction, getting everyone's input and sorting it based on full analytical criteria, not only eliminates bias, but gives you certain level of confidence and credibility.