Prioritization and Visualization
Using a Four-Field Matrix
If you have to overview a lot of similar information and threaten to lose the overview, it is helpful to visualize it with the help of a four-field matrix and thus be able to evaluate it more easily. To do this, arrange them in an axis cross in 2 dimensions. Of course, four fields cannot solve all problems, but they have a lot of advantages:
- They force you to bring order into complex data.
- They help to derive strategies or make decisions.
- The methods are quickly applicable without preparation.
- They represent relationships graphically.
There are various examples where a four-field matrix is used:
A simple four-field matrix is a good basis for evaluating projects. Necessary resources are related to the expected resulting effects. Projects are classified as Cash Cows, Stars, Poor Dogs or Question marks.
One of the classics in time management is the Eisenhower matrix. It compares importance and urgency. Tasks are prioritized according to what is important and unimportant, urgent and not urgent.
The stakeholder analysis or matrix identifies the most important stakeholders for a project, a project or a product development with their interest, their power, their attitude and their influence. The stakeholder matrix visualizes these stakeholders relative to each other, taking into account their influence and interest.
What applies to stakeholders also applies to risks. You get a clear overview of the risk situation of your project by comparing the probability of occurrence with the effects of the risks.
The finer the matrix structure, the better the overview. Often the colours green (low probability and small effects), yellow to red (high probability and large effects) are used for the display.
The SWOT analysis helps to draw a picture of the company or project team. The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are sorted into a matrix.
With the Product Market or Ansoff matrix, markets and products are closely examined and visually presented. In this way, decision-makers can develop a growth-oriented future strategy for their company.
The portfolio analysis of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG matrix) also known as the growth-share matrix uses the same comparison as for project prioritization, but draws conclusions for the further corporate strategy. Products are sorted according to their life cycle into the four fields Cash Cows, Stars, Poor Dogs or question marks and relative market share and market growth are considered.
Of course, the four fields cannot solve all problems. Sometimes it even makes more sense to work with more fields to get an even finer overview. However, a matrix represents complex facts in a simple way and is a good starting point for deeper analyses.