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Decision matrix template

This decision matrix template helps you create a weighted or unweighted decision matrix to make the most optimal decision.
This template was built with Coda, the all-in-one doc that brings words, data, and teams together. Play with the template below or copy the doc to save your edits.

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Making decisions, even easy ones like, “What should I have for breakfast today?” can be one of things that takes way longer than it should. Part of the problem, especially within project management is that if you make the wrong decision, it can haunt you and even ruin the project. It disrupts your workflow, interferes with deadlines, or impacts your budget.

Choose wisely, though, and all is good.

How did your last decision go?

However, good decision-making is never easy. And, the more people you have in a room, the harder it gets to make a decision that everyone agrees with.

That’s where the decision matrix comes in.

No wait, this is a matrix decision and is definitely not what we’re talking about.

What is a decision matrix?
A decision matrix is a grid that is used in the decision-making process to make better decisions. When you set up the decision matrix it allows you to assess the various options you have and balance them against each other. It’s designed to help you make decisions based on their merits, rather than how you feel about something.

The decision matrix is the ideal tool to use for those moments when you have to narrow down your decisions down from many to one and, ideally, the option that is left is the best decision to make.

Decision matrices (or variations of them) can also be referred to as a Pugh matrix, decision grid, (also called an urgent-important matrix) or as grid analysis. And, while there can be some variances in how each operates, at their core, these systems all use grids to help you assess your options and make a decision.

That said, there are two different types of decision matrices, the weighted decision matrix and the unweighted decision matrix.

Weighted decision matrix
With a weighted decision matrix, you’re actively ranking and scoring your options based on certain evaluation criteria. The idea is that the option with the highest weighted score is the obvious choice. The criteria that you use to rank your choices for complex decisions is based on what you’re evaluating.

For example, if you’re trying to choose where you and your team are going to eat for lunch, you might rank the food options based on price, style of food, how quickly you can get it, and whether or not people like it. You attach a numerical value to each of the criteria (say a number from 1 - 5) and when you calculate the final score, the restaurant with the highest score at the end is your best option for your final decision.

You end up with something that looks a little like the image below.

Decision matrix example ()

Unweighted decision matrix
An unweighted decision matrix is similar to the weighted one, but there’s one main difference - rather than assigning scoring the different factors in your decision, you’re assuming all things are equal. In the lunch example above, you wouldn’t need to rank based on who delivered faster, because they would all get the food to you at roughly the same time. The decision, then, is based on whether or not they tick off the various requirements. Rather than looking at a score, you’re essentially looking at a checklist.

A great example of this can be seen on almost every SaaS pricing page, like this example from our pricing page below. The pricing plan you select is often chosen based on the your specific requirements.

Why use a decision matrix template
A decision matrix template helps you break out of the excel spreadsheet and take advantage of a system that uses automation to help you make better decisions. Templates let you quickly draw up your matrix, define the criteria, apply the weighting to the options (if you’re using a weighted decision matrix template), and tally the total score.

What you need before filling out a decision matrix template
Decision matrices take a lot of the guesswork out of making decisions, but they don’t take away all the work. The good news is that it's not hard. All you really need to do is gather up some relevant information, define your criteria, and use that to make your decision. Let’s explore what you need.

A list of decision options
Naturally, you can’t make a decision if you don’t have a list of options. This is the easy part. Before you even draw up your grid, you know what your list of options is. Drop them into your grid and move on to the next step.

Rating scale
After you list your options, it’s time to decide on a rating scale to use for weighing each criteria (assuming you’re going to be using a weighted decision matrix). Choose a scale that’s going to help things rank in a way that’s clear. You really don’t want to have to think about whether something that scores a 7.5 is better than something that ranks 7.6, if only because that means you’re still stuck having to think about the decision.

Decision criteria
Now it’s time to select the criteria for making your decision. This is going to be things like ROI, cost, impact, value, and potential issues with the solution. The more criteria you come up with, the more likely you are to make the best decision for your project, so don’t be afraid to list as many criteria as possible.

Scoring system
Once you’ve ranked everything, decide your scoring system. It’s likely going to be an accumulation of the points awarded by your rating scale, but it also should be something clear. Turn it into a score out of 100 (you know, a percent), so it’s easy to understand when you’re looking through the options. As mentioned above, the last thing you want to do in your decision matrix is to choose between two different close options.

👉 Get started with this Decision Matrix template.
Copy this template
After you copy this template, you can utilize this free decision matrix template for your project planning. This way you can better visualize which options and decision would align with your team’s goals and principles.

How to create decision matrix using Coda's free decision matrix template
Step 1: Defining a Problem & Creating Options
When making a decision for an important project or a problem, the first thing you must do is create a problem statement. In you can input the problem or define a project that your team must make a decision for in . Next you must define a Project Budget to set a max limit on the amount of money to be spent on the decision plan.

Next, before making a final decision, you have to weigh your options in the . By clicking the Add Option button, you can add details about the option such as how much it will Cost, its projected Impact, ROI, and the Risk you may have by taking it on. Based on the choices you have chosen for each option, it will be given a Raw Score, a higher score means a better decision.

Step 2: Weighted Decision Making
There will be times where in some projects you may value certain aspects of your decision making over others.
(For example: There may be a project where you may value Impact a decision can have over how much it will Cost). In , you can re-weight your percentages to add up to 100%. Based on how you value things, the will give Weighted Scores based on each option.

After choosing an option that you wish to move forward with, you can click the Choose Option button to create a where you can further plan your team’s objectives and goals for the project.

Step 3: Rating Criteria & Extra Steps
In you can view the current point system for each Impact, ROI, and Risk. Based on the depth of each criteria, you can adjust the ratings.

Decision matrix template FAQs
What are the benefits of using a decision matrix?
The biggest benefit of the decision matrix is that it gives you a consistent way to make decisions. You don’t have to spend hours or days bogged down and assessing the options yourself. You’re giving a process to follow that, ideally, makes the right decision obvious.

A decision matrix is also helpful because it helps remove personal feelings from decisions that need to be made by a group. A very basic example of this would be trying to decide where to eat lunch with a bunch of friends. Using the decision matrix would help remove a lot of back and forth and frustration that can build up and it would reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth.

Within a group project, the same idea applies. The decision matrix helps ensure that the best option is chosen, without a lot of time spent arguing and without the frustration of making a decision as a group.

What is the difference between a decision matrix and an influence diagram?
The biggest difference between a decision matrix and an influence diagram is that an influence diagram is more focused on showing you what important factors influence the various options you have, rather than arranging your options in a grid. The influence diagram is a good way to map out the path you should take to achieve your goal, as it also has arrows that guide the process.

The decision matrix, on the other hand, helps you make decisions based on how well they score in a grid.

What is a decision tree?
A is a tree-like model of the consequences of a decision. With a decision tree, you list the decision at the top. Then, underneath the decision, you branch out the various outcomes, or consequences, of that decision. The tree grows until you’ve listed out everything. It gives you a way to look at everything, good or bad, that could happen should you make that decision.



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