There are a number of decision-making tools for evaluating your ideas. One I prefer is the impact/effort analysis for looking at the cost and benefit. It is the process of using a matrix-style tool to evaluate several options against the impact gained and effort required for each option or idea. Each idea is placed in one of the quadrants shown below, based on group assessment of the impact and effort required to implement the idea.
• Ideas placed in quadrant 1 are easy and cheap but produce minimal benefit. They are appropriate when they can be included in annual plans or address existing problems.
• Ideas placed in quadrant 2 are easy and cheap and produce significant benefit. They are easy to implement quickly.
• Ideas placed in quadrant 4 are difficult and expensive and produce minimal benefit. Ideas from this quadrant should generally be discarded.
• Ideas placed in quadrant 3 are difficult and expensive but will result in significant benefit. If these ideas are considered, appropriate time and resources should be made available for their exploration.
Impact/effort analysis is a powerful approach for prioritizing and choosing from multiple options.
While the matrix tool is described using impact and effort as evaluation categories, the same matrix – and approach – may be used to evaluate options against other categories, such as cost/benefit, impact/risk, value/effort, etc. The matrix indicates that the options are evaluated from a low, medium, and high perspective, yet the criteria may be replaced with elements based on specific and organizational needs. For example: Low, medium, and high may be replaced with appropriate dollar values, if the matrix would be used to do a cost/benefit analysis, rather than an impact/effort. As you can see, the matrix categories and criteria may be tailored to your organizational needs.