Lean Management Systems


Prioritization Matrix

aka Project Priority Matrix or Project Prioritization Matrix Excel template for decision making

What is a Prioritization Matrix?

An L-shaped matrix using weighted paired comparisons of alternatives and rating criteria.

When and why to use your

Prioritization Matrix template

Priority Matrix

– When there are serious consequences for a wrong choice

– When all decision makers must agree with and support an important decision

– When there is substantial disagreement between decision makers

This is the most rigorous and time-consuming of the decision-making tools and methods.

Use this time-consuming decision-making method only for your very most important decisions.

Most decisions can be made more easily using other decision-making tools.

How to use your

Prioritization Matrix template

Systems2win menu > Systems2win templates

Find and open your template

Find and open your Prioritization Matrix template (DecisionPriorities.xlsx)
in the same way that you find and open
your other 150+ Systems2win templates.

Save your working document, following the usual
document storage and naming conventions
established by your leaders.

If English is not your native language

Switch to your language, just like every Systems2win Excel template.

Open a Blank Sheet

Systems2win menu > Open a Blank Sheet

When you're ready to start doing your own real work...

click the button to 'Open a Blank Sheet'

Excel Ribbon bar > Systems2win tab > Open a Blank Sheet

This blank sheet is where you will do your real work

(not on the Sample sheet)

Rename your new sheet

Analytical Criteria Method

Although this flexible tool can be used in many creative ways,
the classic way to use it is the Analytical Criteria Method.

Video Help

Training Video:
Decision Making Tools

Define the decision that needs to be made

Succinctly summarize the problem in the Title near the top of the page.

Ensure that everyone understands and agrees upon what is to be decided.
Define Operational Definitions if needed.

Define the focus of THIS worksheet

The focus of the first worksheet should be
to brainstorm and prioritize potential Evaluation Criteria.

Then create 1 worksheet per Evaluation Criterion —

where you will compare each Alternative based on just that 1 Evaluation Criterion.

To create a new worksheet —

use the 'Open a Blank Sheet' button in the Systems2win menu

(as instructed above)

List your unprioritized options — in no particular order

In the top section, list your options with no attempt to prioritize them.

Do not leave blanks between line items, but it is okay to leave blank rows at the end of the list.

Perhaps use brainstorming to generate robust options.

If you come up with more than 24 choices,

either combine or eliminate some choices, using List Reduction methods,
or if you need more choices — see advanced training for How to expand the list.

Rate each paired comparison

For each pairing of items on your list, ask

"Which is more important, and how much more?"

In the dropdown list, select your rating for the ROW as compared to the COLUMN.

In the corresponding grey cell,
it will automatically populate the inverse rating for the column as compared to the row.

Notice that almost everything in section 2 auto-populated when you completed section 1.

The only data that you enter is your forced choice paired comparison values.

The Prioritized List (in the bottom section) will auto-populate as you complete the other sections.

Do not edit anything in that bottom section.

The focus of the first worksheet should be
to brainstorm and prioritize
potential Evaluation Criteria

Unprioritized List - Potential Evaluation Criteria

Prioritization Matrix - Evaluation Criteria

Prioritized List - Evaluation Criteria

Then create 1 worksheet per Evaluation Criterion —
where you will compare each Alternative
based on just that 1 Evaluation Criterion

Unprioritized list - 1 sheet for each evaluation criterion

Prioritization Matrix - for each Criterion

Prioritized List - 1 sheet per Evaluation Criterion

Make your final decision

Using the Decision Matrix template (Decision.xlsx)

(NOT the Prioritization Matrix template)

compare all Alternatives against all Objectives (Evaluation Criteria)

From the Prioritized List section of the Evaluation Criteria sheet in the Prioritization Matrix:

Decision Matrix - Final Decision

This example was created using the old version of the Decision Matrix.
Objectives are now in columns and Alternatives are now in rows.

Copy the Prioritized List
to the Objectives header row
in the Decision Matrix.

And copy Weights
for Evaluation Criteria,
to the Importance header row in the Decision Matrix.

Because those are merged cells, you can't use simple copy & paste.
You need to copy and paste each Objective and Weight one at a time
using the formula bar. (Don't edit directly in the cells themselves)

From the Unprioritized List section
in any one of your other sheets
in the Prioritization Matrix:

Copy the Unprioritized List
of Alternatives,
and Paste Special > Values
to the Alternatives column of the Decision Matrix.

From the Comparison Grid section of each sheet in your Prioritization Matrix:
(1 sheet per Evaluation Criterion)

Copy Weights for each Alternative,
and Paste Special > Values to the Rating grid in the Decision Matrix.

Tip: You might make the columns wider, and adjust the number format to display 2 decimal places, like we did in this example.

The Adjusted Scores in the Decision Matrix will contain your final ranking of your Alternatives —
prioritized using the detailed weights that your team took so much time to thoroughly consider.

Then your team makes your final decisions for Our Priority Ranking.

Bookmark = advanced

Advanced Training for your

Priority Matrix template

Print Areas on your Prioritization Matrix


To print different Print Areas,
use the special Print Area buttons.

Learn more about how Systems2win Print Buttons
extend the standard features of Microsoft Excel.

How to Expand the List if you need more options

In each of the 3 sections — you must have the same number of rows of options.

Copy similar rows or columns

Do NOT simply insert rows or columns.
You must instead copy similar rows or columns, using Insert Copied Cells

In the grey column just to the left of the Prioritized List —

edit the numbers so that the numbering sequence continues correctly in your newly copied rows.

The comparison table must have the same number of columns as rows,

and your inserted columns must be to the left of the thin gold line that defines the boundary of the table.

The ID numbers for both rows and columns must continue the sequence.

You will need to manually copy & paste similar cells to keep the pattern or diagonal grey cells separating the editble white cells from the non-editable grey cells containing the formula.

Tip: Copy the (bottom) white cells first, then the (top) grey cells.

Re-protect your sheet as soon as possible,

so that you don't accidentally damage formulas

Bookmark = Reading

Suggested Reading and Resources

Did we mention that the Prioritization Matrix is (by far) the most thorough and time-consuming
of the decision-making tools?

Are you interested in exploring easier, faster ways?

Learn about other decision-making tools,
and see suggested reading for decision-making methods.


This Prioritization Matrix template comes with
many other useful tools for Continuous Improvement



priced low enough to empower every team member



Decision Matrix template


This Prioritization Matrix template does not come as a free trial...

but the Decision PICK Matrix does


Download a dozen trial templates



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