A Step-by-Step Guide for Using a Weighted Scoring Model

Need to make a multifaceted decision for your project? Use a weighted scoring model to help prioritize your choices and actions for a more desirable outcome.

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Who really knows what the right decision is when faced with multiple options? Unless you fully understand each option, the costs, the risks, the benefits, etc., then you can’t possibly know what the right decision is off the top of your head.

Luckily, you don’t have to become an expert in every option or make an off-the-cuff decision when there are tools to guide you, such as weighted scoring models.


Overview: What is the weighted scoring model?

A weighted scoring model (aka weighted scorecard) is a project management technique used for weighing certain decisions, such as prioritizing project actions, prioritizing the development of product features, purchasing new software, etc.

You might even remember weighted scoring back from your years in school when your teacher would weigh certain assignments based on their importance to the class.

While a weighted scoring model can be used for all kinds of decisions and actions, in terms of project management, this model will help you figure out your priorities during the planning phase of the project life cycle.

The Six Sigma prioritization matrix is one of the most well-known weighted scoring models in project management. For the most part, I will be using elements from this system to demonstrate how a weighted system works.


How to create and use a weighted scoring model

Now that you understand what a weighted scoring model is, I’ve put together a list of easy-to-follow steps for creating your model, and how to use it once you’ve constructed it.

All of my values were made up for this example, so you don’t have to follow my weights and scores when incorporating this matrix into your own project framework.

Step 1: List out your options

This is the easiest step in the process. All you need to do is list out all the options you’d like to incorporate into your project or product without regard to the difficulty, priority, or any other factor. These options can include:

  • Product features
  • Project steps
  • Software options
  • Potential candidates for hire

As I said, this list is not based on any particular value judgement since you’ll weigh them later. All you have to do is gather up viable options that are within your consideration.

Step 2: Brainstorm your criteria

Now that we have a list of everything you’d like to accomplish, it’s time to figure out the criteria that will impact the weight of each option. These criteria include:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Risk
  • Quality
  • Return on investment
  • Effort

The criteria you use in your weighted scoring model is unique to your project or product, so if you’re dealing with a social media project, the criteria will differ from a software product development project.

Nevertheless, there will always be consistent measurements you’ll want to take into consideration, such as cost management and return on investment. It all depends on the projects you’re working on.

Step 3: Assign weight values to your criteria

No two criteria carry the same importance, which proves the usefulness of a weighted scoring model. That’s why you must assign specific weight values to each criterion in the form of a percentage. A great example of weighted values is the way we at The Blueprint score the software we review:

Blueprint score for ease of use, support, pricing, and features

The Blueprint scoring is based on for ease of use, support, pricing, and features.

It might seem we average these individual scores to come up with an overall Blueprint Score, but the truth is these scores are actually weighted like this:

  • Ease of Use (40%)
  • Support (20%)
  • Pricing (20%)
  • Features (20%)

As you can see, we weigh ease of use at 40%, while the other four categories are weighted at 20%, giving ease of use more power to sway the overall score.

This is because we value ease of use a little more than we do the other three criteria. After all, what good are all of those features and support if you can’t figure out how to use the software?

This is exactly how you weigh out your criteria. You start with 100% and then assign weighted percentages based on your own priorities, like so:

  • Return on investment: 20%
  • Cost: 20%
  • Effort: 15%
  • Sustainability: 15%
  • Risk: 10%
  • Time: 10%
  • Quality: 10%

I just made up these values off the top of my head, but this is what these weights might look like once you’ve assigned them.

Step 4: Create your weighted scoring chart

Now that you have your options, criteria, and weights, you can begin creating your weighted matrix, like this:

ROI Cost Effort Sustainability Risk Time Quality
Weight .20 .20 .15 .15 .10 .10 .10
Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4
Option 5

Once you’ve created your chart, you can fill in your options with whatever it is you are looking to prioritize, then score each option with a value of 1 through 5, or whatever range you wish to use.

ROI Cost Effort Sustainability Risk Time Quality
Weight .20 .20 .15 .15 .10 .10 .10
Option 1 3 2 5 2 5 1 3
Option 2 2 2 4 2 5 2 1
Option 3 3 4 1 4 5 1 3
Option 4 1 1 5 2 3 4 5
Option 5 3 2 5 5 3 2 3

Now that you’ve scored each option, you’ll want to multiply each score by the weight, and then calculate the total score average for each one, like so (weighted scores are in bold):

ROI Cost Effort Sustain- ability Risk Time Quality Total Score
Weight .20 .20 .15 .15 .10 .10 .10 1.00
Option 1 3 * .20 = 0.6 2 * .20 = 0.4 5 * .15 = 0.75 2 * .15 = 0.3 5 * .10 = 0.5 1 * .10 = 0.1 3 * .10 = 0.3 0.42 * 100 = 42
Option 2 2 * .30 = 0.4 2 * .20 = 0.4 4 * .15 = 0.6 2 * .15 = 0.3 5 * .10 = 0.5 2 * .10 = 0.2 1 * .10 = 0.1 0.35 * 100 = 35
Option 3 3 * .20 = 0.6 4 * .20 = 0.8 1 * .15 = 0.15 4 * .15 = 0.6 5 * .10 = 0.5 1 * .10 = 0.1 3 * .10 = 0.3 0.44 * 100 = 44
Option 4 1 * .20 = 0.2 1 * .20 = 0.2 5 * .15 = 0.75 2 * .15 = 0.3 3 * .10 = 0.3 4 * .10 = 0.4 5 * .10 = 0.5 0.37 *100 = 37
Option 5 3 * .20 = 0.6 2 * .20 = 0.4 5 * .15 = 0.75 5 * .15 = 0.75 3 * .10 = 0.3 2 * .10 = 0.2 3 * .10 = 0.3 0.47 * 100 = 47

After you’ve completed these calculations, you’ll find the weighted order of importance for each option. In this case, the order of options is:

  1. Option 5
  2. Option 3
  3. Option 1
  4. Option 4
  5. Option 2

What’s fantastic about this system is the numbers-backed methodology for making project decisions, rather than relying on your gut. These systems are best developed in committee with other decision-makers, since you’ll want their perspective on certain value judgements such as cost, effort, and time.

Now you have a basic understanding of a weighted decision matrix and how it is used to calculate priority in projects.


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