Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix)

Prioritization of Experiments
Contributed by

Val Yonchev

Published November 08, 2018

What Is Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix)?

This is a decision-making / prioritization practice for selection of ideas (feature ideas, performance ideas, growth ideas). It is a 2 by 2 matrix comparing Impact vs Effort. A variation of the matrix may consider Effort+Costs or Complexity as representation of both effort and costs.

  • Best Ideas - High Impact / Low Effort
  • Research required - High Impact / High Effort
  • Things to avoid - Low Impact / Low Effort
  • Bad ideas - Low Impact / High Effort

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Why Do Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix)?

  • This practice opens up the product development for the whole team
  • Developing new products goes hand in hand with generation of ideas, hypothesis and their testing/validation. Unfortunately, it is mostly impossible to test and evaluate all ideas and hypothesis we can come up with. This requires us to filter and prioritize which of them to work on
  • It is a simple, easy to understand, very visual and can include the whole team in the process of transparent selection of ideas/hypothesis to work on first
  • Helps the Product Managers (Product Owners) in prioritisation, building the product roadmap/backlog and explaining priorities to stakeholders
  • It helps identify directions and ideas for pivoting

How to do Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix)?

The source of ideas and hypothesis are practices like Event Storming, Impact Mapping, HMW, User Research, Empathy Mapping. While we perform those aforementioned practices, often ideas would emerge for possible improvements or new hypothesis may form. Some of them may be already formulated as HMW questions.

Before adding any of them as items on the Product Backlog these ideas & hypothesis would typically need some research, analysis and further elaboration. As any team has a limit of bandwidth and attention, prioritisation is required and any activities would be added as items in the Product Backlog.

Once prioritised these ideas & hypothesis may lead to:

  • New stories being added
  • Complete new features being broken down into new stories
  • User Research
  • Design of Experiments
  • Spikes

Look at Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix)

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Impact & Effort Prioritization (Matrix) practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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