Prioritization Matrix Template Excel : Set Task and Project priorities


What is a Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a simple tool which is designed to compare between the proposed projects or tasks, giving them all the same criteria and weighted grades. Once all of the proposals have been graded, it is easy to see which one should impact the company most positively.

Prioritization Matrix tool is important because deciding which project should receive a green light to go ahead and start is hard work, with a profound impact on the company’s bottom line.

Task Priority Matrix Excel Template Free Download
Task Priority Matrix Excel Template Free Download

Many executives which are tasked with making these decisions rely on their experience and instincts, which don’t always lead to the most promising projects being given the go-ahead.

The Prioritization Matrix tool can also be used to decide which tasks should be prioritized, in case the resources are limited (time, experts, machines, etc.).

How to Create a Prioritization Matrix ?

Putting together a solid matrix is a team effort, and needs to get input from all of the stakeholders and team members. The following steps need to be taken in order to put a matrix together – 

Step 1 : Agreeing on the criteria - Which criterion will be scored and measured for each proposal
Step 2: Setting the grading values: Each criterion must receive a grade, which depicts how it aligns with it. For example: If the criterion is “aligns with strategic goals” then the grades may be: “0 – not at all”, “3 – with 2 or less goals”, “6 – with the majority of goals”, “9 – with all of the goals”
Step 3: Assigning weights to each criterion: Agree on which criterion has the largest impact on the company
Step 4: Create the matrix: List the criterion in the left row, their weight in the next column and the values in the following column.
Step 4: Column wise: Add the projects from the fourth column on wards
Step 5: Calculate the grade: Multiply the weight of each criterion by the grade value for each project

Add up the grades for each project, and then list them from the highest grade to the lowest

Task Prioritization Matrix Excel Template

Task Priority Matrix is a approach of categorizing the tasks you have into Critical, High, Medium and Low. The categorization helps you to address the tasks on priority basis. This priority matrix build in excel helps you to manage your tasks and priorities.

Task Priority Matrix Excel Template Free Download
Task Priority Matrix Excel

How to prioritize your tasks? 

An alternative task prioritization method is called the “Important / Urgent” decision making matrix. This method splits the tasks into four different quadrants, and the responsible party should complete the tasks in the top left quadrant first. 

Once these are done, move to quadrant two, three and finally to four and complete the tasks there. This method is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, and was used by him to prioritize his multiple tasks. The definition of these classifications is as follows – 

Important: A task which when completed has a positive impact on achieving the goals (either the company’s or personal).

Urgent: A task which demands immediate attention, and is more often than not associated with achieving someone else’s goals. Not completing these asks are usually associated with immediate consequences.
The quadrants are determined as follows – 
  • First (Upper Left) - Important and Urgent: These are the tasks which both positively impact the goals and are important to someone else. These tasks should take precedent over any others.
  • Second (Upper Right) – Important but not Urgent: These are the tasks which positively impact the goals of either the company or personally, and should be completed after the tasks in the first quadrant are done.
  • Third (Lower Left) - Urgent but not Important: These are the tasks which require immediate attention, but do not impact our goals. These are mostly tasks which are asked of us by other people in the organization, and are important to them.
  • Fourth (Lower Right) – Not Important and not Urgent: These tasks usually don’t get completed (or started for that matter), since they aren’t important to anyone.

Features of the Task Priority Matrix Excel Template

  • Allows task prioritization based on four categories - Critical, High, Medium and Low.
  • Has a backlog section which can be used to list the tasks which need to be done.
  • Task have to be created once in the backlog and then moved to the required categories by simply entering task ID.
  • Critical tasks should be done immediately, High tasks should be done ASAP, Medium and Low can wait for a bit more time.
  • The matrix highlights tasks which are not assigned in any category.
  • Duplicate tasks are highlighted in red bold in all the categories.
  • Each task has a score which can be used to signify the priority.
  • Using CTRL + Q will execute the sort which will sort the tasks based on their scores. Higher the score higher the task is listed.

Project Prioritization Matrix Excel Template

In an ideal world, organizations would have all the budget and resources they need to carry out all projects in their pipeline – and I would be happily rich. Unfortunately for all of us, we don’t live in an ideal world and organizations are always constrained in the number of projects they can deliver with limited resources.

Project Prioritization Process
Project Prioritization Process

Why Prioritize Projects?

  • In a nutshell, in the same way project management is all about doing projects right, portfolio management is about doing the right projects, that is, the ones that align to strategy.
  • However, most of the time, resources, not strategy, determine what gets done and when and most organizations still rely on rudimentary approaches to select their projects, namely, “first-come-first-served”, “who-shouts-the-loudest”, the well-known “gut feel” or even the “eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. 
  • I’m certain there may be advantages in following your instinct but, overall, not only are those emotional, biased, and subjective approaches, they also miss consistency, transparency, and alignment. 
  • At the end of the day, you end up with nothing more than pet projects, fashionable projects with the word “strategic” on it, and a couple of projects that are not aligned to what you wanted to achieve in the first place.
  • Defining how to prioritize projects can be a daunting task (and you may even upset a person or two in the beginning). 
  • Fortunately, we’re here to suggest you a prioritization model that you can take away and use on your own.

Features of the Project Prioritization Matrix

From the rigorous Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP), to sophisticated PPM tools, and the entertaining priority poker, there are plenty of techniques out there for portfolio prioritization but perhaps the one that is more commonly used and easy to implement and tailor is the prioritization matrix.

Project Prioritization Matrix
Project Prioritization Matrix

Identify your criteria

  • What matters to your business? Is it the return on investment? Customer satisfaction? Improving operational efficiencies? All of them? 
  • Gather your senior leadership team, discuss your strategy, and agree what criteria should projects be evaluated against. 
  • As a best practice, my recommendation would be to, at least, include ‘strategic alignment’ and the 3R’s of portfolio management – risk, resources, and return.

Establish the weight of each criterion

  • If achieving cost-efficiencies is more important than protect reputation risk, this should be made clear for all so that projects that contribute to this objective can be pursued and others that don’t can be moved to the bottom of your list of priorities. 
  • The different criteria weight should sum up 100%. 

Define the rating scale of each criterion

  • Each criterion should have a scale – usually comprising 3 or 5 levels – that defines how it can range. 
  • For instance, if the criteria in analysis is “Strategic Alignment”, then the question to ask would be “to what extent is the project aligned with our strategic objectives?”, whose answers could vary from “1 – does not align”, to “2 – aligns to a minimum”, “3 – somewhat aligns”, “4 – strongly aligns”, to “5 – fully aligns”.

Score your projects against each criteria

  • Grab your list of projects, sit your Exec team, and start evaluating each project to each criterion, scoring them using the scale previously identified. 
  • Some projects may be easier to score than others but you will soon realize that the discussion started by the prioritization exercise is what matters the most to align expectations and clarify the strategy to be followed.

Calculate the project total score

  • Simply put: just do the maths. Your project total score is a sum of the scoring for each criterion x the weight of that criterion. 
  • The higher the score, the higher the priority of the project. Simple, right? I told you so.

Project Prioritization Matrix Example

The following example compares between three proposed projects for a local private (for profit) hospital. The board can budget only one of the projects.

Prioritization Matrix Example 

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