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What Is Decision Matrix?

Wherever you work, you need to make many decisions every second. Your thoughts start even at the beginning of the day. Should I wear this or that? Should I take the car or the subway? Will the client like this press bulletin version or that? Should I recruit this candidate or the other one? The examples can be increased. The thing is, the decision-making process may be critical sometimes. You are expected to make a good, down-to-earth, effective decision. And to be good at it, you, sometimes, need to use some decision-making tools. Decision matrix is one of these and a very useful one if you know what to do. Reading further, you will get a detailed understanding of what a decision matrix is and how it is used.

Decision Matrix Is…

Decision matrix definition can be done simply like this: a decision matrix is a formula that is used to select among many comparable choices to make a final decision. This formula is practical when there is more than one factor you need to think over. Matrix for decision-making is sometimes given different names such as decision grid, grid analysis, or problem selection matrix. These all refer to the same explanation as above.

Of course, one does not always need to make a decision matrix. The situation involves several components whose evaluation criteria should be the same. That is, you have to compare similar options with the same factors. For example, a decision-making matrix can be useful to:

  • Measure important factors
  • Narrow down your options
  • Weigh many options
  • Make a logical final decision

These bullets will sound more reasonable when you read the related examples in the following parts of this post. Now, there is a little bit more for us to understand what a decision matrix is and how it is done. So, now it is time to list the steps of a decision matrix. The topics here will include clarifying options, identifying criteria, forming the matrix, rating the options, adding weight to each option, and calculating the score. Let’s explain each topic with a solid example.

Decision Matrix Example

This decision matrix example will help you understand the topics included in the steps easily. It can be counted as a type of decision analysis. Our example is about a four-star hotel manager who is indecisive about linen procurement. The hotel is located in a quite busy part of the city, and the general guest profile includes families with children. The manager is about to buy new linens for the hotel but not sure which one to decide over three options. The options are:

  • The first linen option: economic, not long-lasting, more polyester, more acquirable
  • The second option: expensive, good quality, bargain needed
  • The third option: cost-effective, local production, good quality, long-lasting

Now, it is time to state the criteria for these options. The decision matrix criteria here are:

  • Cost
  • Texture
  • Long-term Occupancy
  • Guest Profile

Now that we see the main components of a decision matrix, we can go back to the steps of it.

Clarifying Options

As in the steps of decision-making, clarifying the options will be the first move here as well. It would be best to gather the options you want to include in the matrix. In our example, the options are three different types of linens. As you can see here, the options need to be similar. Only in this way you can compare them and head to a final decision.

Identifying Criteria

The second step is about what we weigh the options against. In our example, the criteria are cost, texture, long-term occupancy, and guest profile. These all will let you find the best decision and stay objective.

Forming the Matrix

Once all the components of your decision matrix are ready, you can start to form the matrix. A grid needs to be shaped to compare important criteria among various options. You can create your own kind of decision matrix template and work on it however you like.

Rating the Options

Decision matrix gains function with this step. Because this step includes filling in the grid with a predetermined scale. It doesn’t make any difference if you use a scale of 1 to 3 or 1 to 10. It depends on the variations your matrix has.

If you do not make a decision matrix, your consideration of different choices will most probably stack up as we did above. However, the advantages of a decision matrix will shine when you start to fill the grid with a logical scale. In the end, you will see the pros and cons of all options and decide accordingly. In our example, the hotel manager gives a scale of 1-5 to each option as follows:

  • The first linen: Cost: 3, Texture: 2, Long-term Occupancy: 2, Guest Profile: 2
  • The second linen: Cost: 5, Texture: 4, Long-term Occupancy: 3, Guest Profile: 2
  • The third linen: Cost: 4, Texture: 4, Long-term Occupancy: 3, Guest Profile: 4

Adding Weight to Each Option

There will be times when filling the matrix is insufficient. Try to give a certain weight to all criteria to find the best option in those situations. For instance, if our hotel manager has to give weight to his criteria, he will use a scale of 1-5, and it can be like this:

  • Cost: 5
  • Texture: 4
  • Long-term Occupancy: 2
  • Guest Profile: 3

This means the cost of the linens is the most important criteria of all and will be the most effective one on deciding process. Then comes the texture, which determines the quality. The guest profile affects the decision-making process but not as much as the first two. Lastly, the less important criterion is long-term occupancy, which is really hard to predict and changeable.

Calculating the Score

This step involves adding all the considerations for each option in the decision matrix. Your grid looks more number-based now.

On the final scene, you need to see the total score of each option. If we go back to our example, the total number for each linen are:

  • The first linen option: 33
  • The second linen option: 53
  • The third linen option: 54

According to all these calculations, the Oscar goes to linen number three! Using the decision matrix, we make the decision-making process smoother and faster. Try to take advantage of the decision matrix to quickly be out of the woods whenever you are stuck in between.