An introduction to the weighted decision matrix

Reading time: about 7 min


  • Organization and evaluation

Before you started work today, you made several decisions: which clothes to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what time to leave the house, whether to drive yourself or take mass transit, what to listen to on the way, and more. These decisions are mostly inconsequential and don’t require a lot of thought to make.

When you’re at work, there are decisions that you might need to make that are more consequential to the success of your business. When making these decisions, you should take more time to weigh and evaluate various options. This will help you to make rational and informed decisions.

In this post we’ll look at a weighted decision matrix—what it is, the pros and cons of using it, and how its systematic and structured approach to decision-making can help you to make the right decisions. 

What is a weighted decision matrix?

A weighted matrix is a decision-making tool that can help you to compare and assess multiple options against a set of criteria that are weighted by level of importance. This is a great tool to use when you need to find the best option out of many good options. After you’ve established a weighted list of factors, you can compare and contrast each option against those factors. This helps you to find the best option to use for what you are trying to accomplish.

When should you use a weighted decision matrix?

A weighted decision matrix is a powerful tool that you might consider using in the following situations: 

  • Project selection: The weighted decision matrix lets you assign weighted criteria like cost, time, available resources, and alignment with goals to several project proposals. Then you can evaluate each project proposal against these criteria to determine which is the most viable to begin working on.

  • Vendor selection: When choosing vendors or suppliers, the weighted decision matrix can help you to make the right decision based on criteria such as price, quality, reliability, customer service, etc.

  • Deciding who to hire: Weighted criteria such as skill level, experience, enthusiasm, growth potential, and so on can help you to determine which applicant might be the best fit for an open position.

  • Selecting locations: As your company grows, you may need to decide where to locate satellite offices. You can weigh your site choices against criteria like population, workforce availability, infrastructure, proximity to suppliers and vendors, etc.

What is the difference between a weighted decision matrix and an unweighted decision matrix?

The main difference between a weighted and unweighted decision matrix is the level of importance given to the criteria being considered. 

In a weighted decision matrix, each criterion you’re considering is assigned a different weight that reflects its importance for making your decision. The higher the weight, the more influence that criterion has on the overall decision.

In an unweighted decision matrix, all criteria are of equal importance. This means that each criterion has the same potential impact on the final decision.

What are the pros and cons of using a weighted decision matrix?

Using weighted decision matrices can offer you a lot of advantages. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t come with some challenges. Here we explore a few of the advantages and disadvantages of using a weighted decision matrix.

Pros of using a weighted decision matrix

  • Objective decision-making: Assigning weights to the criteria helps to reduce individual bias and subjectivity. This leads to more objective and rational decision-making.

  • Comprehensive evaluation: Evaluations tend to be more comprehensive and nuanced as you consider multiple choices against the relative importance of each criterion.

  • Transparent decision-making process: The weights assigned to the criteria in the decision matrix help management, executives, and other stakeholders to understand why an option was chosen and how you reached the decision.

  • Consistent decision-making process: The decision-making process is structured and systematic. This ensures consistency in the evaluation process no matter how small or large your team is.

Cons of using a weighted decision matrix

  • Subjectivity of weight assignments: There is a degree of subjectivity involved in assigning weights to the criteria you want to evaluate. Be sure to involve key stakeholders to get a better understanding of what they consider to be most important so you can assign more accurate weights.

  • Accuracy of data: The conclusions you make in your decision-making process are only as accurate as the data you use for evaluation. Make sure the data is reliable and up to date.

  • Complexity: If you are dealing with a lot of data, criteria, and options, creating a weighted decision matrix can be time consuming and complex. If new options emerge, you might need to rework the matrix or create a new one, which can introduce complications and delays to the analysis.

How to make a weighted decision matrix

Like other decision matrices, a weighted decision matrix is laid out in columns and rows. The choices you are considering are generally listed in rows on the left side of the matrix. The criteria you want to use to assess your options are listed in columns at the top of the matrix. 

Here are some steps you can follow to help you start creating a weighted decision matrix. These steps are not set in stone. As you work with decision matrices, you might find that there are times when you’ll need more, or fewer, steps than are outlined here. 

Step 1: List your options

Start by identifying the different options you want to consider. List each option in a row to the left of your canvas. Your goal is to decide which of these options is the best for your needs.

Step 2: Identify the criteria

Work with your team to determine which criteria should be used to evaluate each option. Then place each criterion at the top of its own column at the top of the canvas. These criteria should be relevant to the decision you are making. The right criteria can help you to avoid subjectivity when making your final decision.

For example, if you are trying to decide which vendor to use, you might want to consider things like cost, reliability, quality, and customer service.

Step 3: Assign weights to each criterion

Establish a rating scale to use for the criteria. It can be as simple as 1-5 with 1 being the least important and 5 being the most important. Assign one of these weighted numbers to each criterion. This helps you understand the impact each criterion has on your final decision.

Step 4: Rate each option for each criterion

Evaluate each option against the criteria. Assign a rating to each option using the same rating scale you used for the criteria (for example 1-5). Unlike the criteria, the ratings assigned to each option don’t need to be different. 

Step 5: Calculate the weighted score

Multiply the weight assigned to each option by the rating assigned to each of its corresponding criteria. Then add together the totals in each row. This will give you the total weighted score for each option. 

Weighted decision matrix example (click to use template)

Step 6: Make your final decision

Review the total scores in each row to identify the option with the highest score. Based on the information you have and the weights assigned to each option and criterion, the row with the highest score represents your best option. You would typically choose the option with the highest score as your final decision.

Other types of decision matrices

You don’t always have to use a weighted decision matrix to make important decisions. There are many alternative matrices that can help you to make informed decisions. A few examples include:

  • RICE matrix: The RICE matrix helps you to prioritize items to work on based on reach, impact, confidence, and effort.

  • Eisenhower matrix: The Eisenhower matrix is a 2x2 matrix that helps you to prioritize work based on how important and urgent it is to complete it.

  • Stakeholder analysis: This project management tool can help you in the process of determining who your stakeholders are. This includes understanding their interests, needs, and expectations.

  • RASCI chart: This RASCI chart template can help you to identify team members who are responsible, accountable, supportive, consulted, and informed in relation to different parts of a project.

Let Lucidspark help

Lucidspark is a virtual whiteboard that lets teams collaborate and visualize ideas no matter where each team member is physically located. You can create your own weighted decision matrix using Lucidspark’s virtual canvas, or you can simply start with a template and customize it to your use case.

Try this free weighted decision matrix template in Lucidspark.

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About Lucidspark

Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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