E6S-006 Project Prioritization & Selection Tools- Part 1

Common prioritization Tools

Affinity Diagram

If starting from scratch... didn’t do the first of the       E6S-Phases (Seek, See & Strategize) to Project Identification. Brainstorming technique. Allows for free flow to open up ideas anonymously.  Foster discussion and coming to a consensus

Steps to the Affinity Method

  1. Give each committee member a finite amount of sticky notes (5 for example).  This will limit those with many ideas to their top 5 or so, and force those with few ideas to think outside the box to come up with extra ideas.
  2. Instruct each member to write one idea on each note.
  3. Have the team group the ideas into common themes (or affinity).  This fosters discussion
  4. Once the group agrees on the Affinity categories, each category can be defined as a project, or project group.

Benefits: Quick and Easy.  Can work well if management team is very in-tune with VOC and VOB.  This method can be a good technique to lead into prioritization technique, or it’s possible this can act both as brainstorming and prioritization. The stack of sticky-notes usually present themselves in a pareto. Larger stacks represent the most common perceived issue. 

Pitfalls: Outputs from this method will require considerable follow-up to put definition to these perceptions.  Scoping out projects may split Affinity categories into numerous projects, for which further consensus building may be needed.  This method may result in several “just-do-it” options. Participant are influenced by what is the most critical in their mind without actually considering on weighing in what’s important for the organization.

Free Template Download on Products Page

Free Template Download on Products Page

Cause & Effect Matrix

“Mathematical” technique. Cuts through some biases. Fosters discussion, and rates project ideas relative to Critical to Quality (CTQ) drivers (preferably annual goals and/or strategic vision)

How To:

1.      Agree on Strategic CTQs that correlate to VOC and VOB.

  a.       KPI Metrics: (OTD, NPS, Inventory Levels, Customer Complaints)

  b.      Strategic Initiatives: (Growth in XYZ Market, Pillars of Excellence, Company Refocusing Initiative, Margin improvements)

2.      Agree on a relative weight between the CTQs.  Typically 1-10. Higher score corresponding to greater importance.

3.      Agree on a Rubric Scoring Scheme.  (Definitions corresponding to each number).With the highest number corresponding to the largest positive impact on

  a.       Typically 1 to 10.  Often simplified to 1-5-9 scoring.  (0 if no impact).  Have seen “negative“ score rubric option for the rare occasion where a project may detract from an objective.

  b.     Recommend 1-3-9 scoring

Really separates “medium” from “high” impact by off-setting the center.  (make non-normal). Cuts down on some NVA discussions that may just be splitting hairs between a 7 or an 8 on a rubric. Allows the best to rise to the top.

(Note: recently found an article supporting this in ASQ Six Sigma forum magazine.... August 2013 “As Easy as 1-3-9?” by Dan Zwillinger...Claims 1-3-9 as optimal, and demonstrates it statistically.)

4.      List your project options

5.      Score your project options relative to the rubric.

6.      Multiply each score for each CTQ with the weight of the CTQ.

7.      Add up the weighted scores of the projects for a final score for the project

  a.       TIP: Get familiar with Excel’s formula option “SUMPRODUCT”.  It correctly multiplies and adds the arrays for you.  Much simpler than some C&E matrices that do all this work individually.

8.      Sort highest to lowest.  The highest score projects are most impactful toward the CTQ.

Sometimes use a Standard Deviation to measure how much a CTQ is impacting the overall score.  If each project is basically the same score in a CTQ category, either the CTQ isn’t important, or the right projects may not be on the list.

Benefits: Fosters significant discussion.  Keeps team in the CTQ thought framework. Forces members to slow down and think about each score.

Pitfalls:  Takes Time. High D personalities are low in patience for this level of detail.  High “C” personalities may take this to an extreme of debating over minute details with diminishing returns.  Works best if a living document, and committee is familiar with the scoring scheme and revisits the priorities often, monthly or quarterly.  Too time consuming if recreating every time.