Evaluating Program Alternatives


Evaluating Program Alternatives is a method of analyzing the expected effectiveness and efficiency of a program, project, or policy to aid in selecting the best option for your organization to pursue. This model allows all stakeholders to be easily involved in the process and accompanying discussions.

To use our Evaluating Program Alternatives model:

1) List and describe your potential programs.
2) Rate each program based on the six supplied criteria.
3) Allocate a percentage of your total resources to the programs as you see fit.
4) List the specific next steps that should be taken in launching each program.


Evaluating Program Alternatives can be used by strategy managers, business unit leaders, and project managers.


When making a choice where to invest time, money, and resources among various program alternatives, it is critical to do a comprehensive assessment in order to make an informed, meaningful decision. A key part of this assessment is ensuring that stakeholder voices are included and heard; rather than indirectly discovering stakeholder issues and concerns (e.g., through reports, or communicating with other units that have dealt with the stakeholders; Sperry & Jetter, 2014). With the Evaluating Program Alternatives model, stakeholders can contribute directly to the process and participate in the anonymous discussions with candor and honesty; this involvement ensures a shared understanding and greater acceptance of the decision (PMI, 2013).

Often, evaluation methods have limited capability to investigate the tradeoffs, interdependencies, and indirect effects of project decisions from a holistic view that accounts for the organizational objectives as well as stakeholders – leaving decision-makers with the risk of unintended or unexpected consequences, and potentially a project failure (Sperry & Jetter, 2014). A comprehensive assessment that includes ratings on multiple criteria, candid discussion, and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders allows for evaluation of a program’s effectiveness and value while also considering the impact on the organization as well as its stakeholders.


1) NOODLE: List the potential programs. Supporting documents about each program can be attached to each tile.

2) RATE each program based on the supplied criteria:

  • How closely aligned is this program to our strategic direction?
  • How fast is the expected rate of return of this program?
  • What is the expected financial return of this program?
  • Is this program essential for meeting legal, compliance, or regulatory mandates?
  • How valuable will this program be to our customers/partners?
  • How easy is it to implement this program?

You can adjust the weight of each criteria according to your unique needs.

Use an XYZ graph to display the rating results to participants and discuss alignment.

3) PRIORITIZE: Allocate a percentage of your total resources to the programs as you see fit.

4) ACTION: List the specific next steps that should be taken to launch each program.


  • Comprehensive evaluation of the program options and visual display of results.

  • Candid discussion and rationale for ratings and resource allocation choices.

  • Action plan to launch the selected program(s).


This model will enable:

Quality  Perform a comprehensive analysis of all program alternatives to ensure the best choice is made for your organization with a shared understanding and acceptance from all those involved.

Efficiency – Easily rate the alternatives and visualize the results with all stakeholders.

Engagement – Engage all the relevant stakeholders in candid, anonymous discussion for ruthless prioritization.

Agility Keep a logged record of the evaluations for future reference and understanding, and avoiding any back-tracking or confusion about how and why the decision was made.



Project Management Institute (2013). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK®Guide) - Fifth edition. Newton Square, PA: Author.

Sperry, R. C. & Jetter, A. (2014). Incorporating stakeholder input for assessing alternatives: a novel approach using fuzzy cognitive mapping. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Research and Education Conference, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/incorporating-stakeholder-input-assessing-decisions-1922