What is Prioritization matrix? | Types of Prioritization matrix

by StarAgile

May 20, 2020
Category Agile and Scrum


Smart work is the key to success. It is important to understand the requirement. It is equally important to plan before starting work. These are the basics that will help the team to complete the task in a phased manner. In turn, the customer will feel satisfied with the results and thus the business will flourish. 

However, we are missing a very vital work in all this process. If you understand the requirement and make a great plan, then it does not mean you are all done. You need to know how to prioritize your work. What needs more emphasis? This is first, next and so forth, an order has to be created. 

How do we do this? Simple, rank your task, and start with the first and the most important. But it is not that easy without the help of a tool when there is a huge task to be connected to reach the end goal. 

This is where the prioritization matrix plays a role. Let us understand what it is? How it helps and how to use it effectively?

What is a Prioritization Matrix?

From an agile perspective, things are dynamic. The product owner has to prioritize the backlogs for every iteration based on the needs and the results. Thus a tool will help speed up the process and offers accurate results as well. As the name indicates it is a matrix form of representation considering many influencing factors to prioritize the backlogs. 

In short, a prioritization matrix is a tool that allows the product owner and the team to prioritize their work.  

Who can use a Prioritization Matrix?

Everyone in the team can use this tool to know the order of their task. In an agile project, in general, a PO is the person who needs to get acquainted with using this tool. This person must collect the entire approved feature and rank them in the product backlog to allow the team to work on them for each sprint. 

Why should you use the Priority Matrix?

It is important to focus and shooting in the air without a target will yield results but that may not align with the goal. When you have a goal it is important to plan based on the priorities. We all know that agile is an iterative process, therefore unlike the traditional method, there is no hard and fast rule to start and end without checking in between. 

During every sprint, it is possible to make independent features and link them whenever required based on the client's consent. Having said this, priority can vary from sprint to sprint. Not all approved features to be added to a product backlog in the same order as approved. 

Thus a prioritization matrix will help in identifying the important feature to be added to the product backlog from time to time. This will avoid rework and hence save time and money. 

Benefits of using a prioritization matrix

In a few words, we understood why we need a prioritization matrix. Now, let us explain in detail about the advantages offered by setting priorities using a matrix. 

1. Time - Manually ranking work might be possible when things are under control and on a small scale. But when the numbers of sprints are more it is not easy to prioritize and reprioritize without the help of the tool. This tool will always help the product owner to quickly find the order of the backlog. Thus it saves time.

2. Accuracy - But saving time alone will not suffice as accuracy is important. Just because a tool is available does not mean that we can quickly prioritize and keep changing them. This matrix representation will provide room for correct decision making. Therefore accuracy is also taken care of creating an order for the backlogs.

3. Clarity - The team will get a clear picture of what is expected of them. They will see the matrix visibly and hence come to consent on why that particular feature is given that ranking. Team with clarity will work efficiently which will lead to ideal results making the customer feel overwhelmed. 

4. Cost – All the above-mentioned factors will zero down to save cost naturally. When the rework is minimized automatically cost factor gets a positive edge. Return on investment increases making the entire team including the organization happy. 

Types of prioritization and how to use the prioritization matrix

We mentioned that it is a matrix. Now, let us explain how this matrix looks and what the different types of matrix are. 

Steps to use the matrix 

In general, the simplest prioritization matrix will look as given below with four QUADRANTS called a 2 X 2 matrix.  

Not urgent

Important

Urgent

Important


Not urgent

Not important

Urgent

Not important


1. Select the criteria. Based on the criteria we select we may fill in the quadrants. 

2. For instance, let us assume we have 4 features and how do we prioritize them? Choose which is important and urgent based on that you can prioritize them. 

3. Important means it is a must to have it in the product backlog and urgent means how soon it must be completed. 

4. Remember this will vary from time to time and all you need to do is to arrange them in the quadrants and it will become easy to provide a ranking. 

When it is a matrix with more rows and columns you must remember to follow the 4 steps given below to choose the priority feature. 

I.Assign scores to each feature

II.Arrange them after rating them based on the requirement

III.Calculate the scores

IV.Compare the results and announce the ranks

Therefore we can classify the prioritization matrix based on the following factors 

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Business Value
  • Complexity
  • Risk & Opportunity
  • Cost

You can choose the different factors to form different types. Let us see how we can do it. 

Complexity and Value prioritization matrix – Based on the difficulty and the value it delivers we will place them in the quadrants to rank them. 

Risk, Value, and Cost prioritization matrix – Here we need to consider the risk involved, but the value it produces and the cost factor. All three will decide to prioritize the feature. 

Customer need and business value prioritization matrix – This will emphasize on the need of the end-user and the organization value. For instance, a customer might expect including some features which may not be ethical to the company value system. Under such a situation there needs to be weightage assigned before prioritizing. 

Final takeaway

 Thus the types of matrix depend on the situation, company policy, end-user need, team strength, time availability, and cost factor. You can choose two or more factors to form a matrix and allocate the features to the backlog. 

We also recommend you to attend a Scrum Product Owner Certification to see how this prioritization matrix is handled by our trainer. You will be on the job to execute a few tasks to master how to use the matrix effectively. This will provide you in-depth knowledge about what are features, which is important, when to give importance to them and how to assign product backlogs to the team.