Continuous Improvement Decision Matrix


During Lean and Continuous Improvement initiatives, teams are challenged to find alternative ways to design a product, a process, or solve a problem.  Alternatives can be identified using the “7-Ways” approach by ‘noodling’ in Powernoodle. Once alternative solutions have been identified, they must be evaluated against one another. The ideal tool used in this process is a Decision Matrix.  

A Decision Matrix is a multi-criteria rating activity which evaluates each alternative solution based on a pre-defined set of criteria, including:

  • Schedule
  • Product Cost
  • Cost to Implement
  • Usability
  • Safety
  • Manufacturability
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Inventory Impact
  • Serviceability


A Decision Matrix allows each alternative solution to be evaluated in an objective way.  Giving stakeholders time to apply critical thinking skills results in carefully considered evaluations (rather than decisions being based on one criterion, or stakeholders being influenced by the group or biased toward their own designs). Decisions Matrices provide consistency in evaluating alternative designs throughout a project – letting designers know what is important in evaluating designs.


Getting Started: This template is designed for product development. If using for a different application, review and edit the template to customize to your own criteria and rating evaluation scale, if necessary. You can also apply weighting factors to any criteria to reflect importance.

1) SETUP: Each tile represents one of your alternative designs. Edit each tile to describe each of your alternative designs. Further explanations can be added to the comments, or files can be added to the tiles.  Delete any extra tiles. 

2) MULTI-CRITERIA RATE how well each design meets the criteria, using the following evaluation scale:

9 = excellent
3 = average
1 = poor
*This scale is used to quickly differentiate the ‘excellent’ designs


3) COMMENT: Provide rationale for why you rated the way you did.

4) FILTER RESULTS: Reveal the rating results, and discuss/agree on the top three.

5) NEXT STEPS: Mock up the top three designs, then evaluate again using the same criteria.


  • Ranked list of the alternative designs
  • Comments containing the rationale for why designs were rated the way they were
  • Quick and objective decision


This exercise will enable:

Quality - Conversation analytics allow stakeholders to know how they evaluated versus how the group did, sparking rich discussion to build confidence in the decisions being made.

Efficiency - Engage busy subject matter experts and stakeholders when it is convenient for them to contribute - 24/7, reducing meeting times and bringing the right people into the process. 

Engagement - Enable an inclusive decision making process which provides a safe space for stakeholders to evaluate based on how they truly feel, and provide honest rationale. Perspectives from all stakeholders are valued in the decision making process.

Agility Make decisions quickly by ‘ruthlessly prioritizing’ options and focusing on the right things, maximizing the return on your valued and limited resources.


American Society for Quality. (2017). Project Planning Tools: Decision Matrix. American Society for Quality.

Okada, Hideo. (2011). 3P and Lean Manufacturing.  [Lectures and Interviews]. Shingijutsu USA Consulting, Various locations.

Salustri, F. (2015). Weighted Decision Matrix. DesignWIKI.

University of Cambridge (2017). Criteria Rating Form, Weighted Ranking. Institute for Manufacturing. osing/criter.html