Prioritisation Matrix

A Prioritisation Matrix is a table that lets you rank ideas or projects in order of importance, using pre-defined criteria and weightings.

What is it?

The Prioritisation Matrix is a structured visual tool to help you decide which improvement ideas to test first and how to focus your activity and energy.  It works best in a collaborative environment and can help to build buy-in and communicate why you have chosen to test certain ideas before others.

They come in many different forms, but the simplest and easiest to use is the 2 x 2 matrix. The axis of the matrix are usually labelled to enable you categorize the priority of each change idea.  Usually the horizontal axis is labelled with a concept such as “effort” or “willingness to adopt”.  The vertical axis is usually “impact” or “value”.

What does this tool look like?
Images shows an example of a Prioritisation Matrix
Why use this tool?

In any improvement project there will be a number of different change ideas that could help you to achieve the desired outcome.  Prioritisation Matrices help you decide which change ideas are to test first.

Where does it fit in the improvement journey?


This tool is relevant at this stage of the Quality Improvement Journey.


It is also relevant to the this theme that supports your journey.

How to use it

The prioritisation matrix is most often used as a tool to facilitate a team discussion about prioritisation.  Here is a step-by-step guide for how to use it.

1. Draw a large 2 x 2 matrix on a whiteboard or a piece of flipchart paper

2. Label your horizontal and vertical axis.

3. Write all your improvement ideas down on post-it notes

4. Once all the ideas are gathered, don’t waste time – start placing them on the matrix deciding as a team where they should sit.

5. At the end of the process you should see your priorities sitting towards the upper half of the matrix.

6. Items on the top left are your quick-wins – lower effort, high impact ideas.  As you move across to the right the ideas require more effort or will to test.

7. Its worth remembering that in reality very few changes are “easy”.  The 2 x 2 matrix can help you to decide which ideas require a relatively lower degree of effort to test and implement.

Top Tips

1. Work as a team – the framework is a great tool for collaboration. Having a diverse range of perspectives is of value will improve the placement of features in the matrix

2. Work quickly – this doesn’t need to be a work of art

3. Remove emotion – take each idea in the abstract and compare against other ideas

4. Try to avoid putting everything above the line

5. Don’t try to do too much from the top-right of the matrix.

6. Re-visit the matrix regularly.  You should be continuously learning from your testing and this may mean changes to your priorities.

Resources to download