Weighted Scoring Model
A weighted scoring model is a means of prioritizing tasks and making decisions by using a set of scoring criteria, each of which has a varying impact on the final score.
Prioritization is one of the core skills involved in product management. However, it can become a very complex task when managers must consider several factors of varying importance. To help make decisions in those scenarios, a weighted scoring model can help in objectively determining a prioritization order.
In this article, we look at weighted scoring models, their benefits, as well as how to use them to aid teams in making various decisions.
Table of contents
- What is a Weighted Scoring Model?
- What Are the Benefits of a Weighted Scoring Model?
- How Do You Use a Weighted Scoring Model?
- The Weighted Scoring Model: Flexible, More Objective Prioritisation and Decision-making
What is a Weighted Scoring Model?
A weighted scoring model is a method of numerically grading tasks, features, and other initiatives based on their costs and benefits. Each entry is plotted into a matrix that assigns a value to each task against set criteria. Each criterion in turn has its own “weight,” representing its relative importance to overall goals.
One real-world example of weighted scoring that most people have encountered is the distribution of points in school exams. Multiple-choice questions are often just one or two points each because they often only require memory work. Meanwhile, essay questions that require knowledge synthesis and analysis are often worth several points.
Though weighted scoring sees a lot of use in prioritization, it can also be used to determine how to proceed with a certain decision. You can apply weighted scoring to tasks, like evaluating hires, selecting options for new tools to integrate into your software stack, and cutting down on ideas generated in the ideation stage of the product development process.
What Are the Benefits of a Weighted Scoring Model?
The weighted scoring model provides several advantages that make prioritization and general decision-making easier and more reliable.
The main benefit of using a weighted scoring model is that it helps you make prioritization decisions objectively. Weighted scoring involves establishing a set of criteria before scoring each task. This allows you to grade and prioritize every feature objectively, with minimal interpretation or personal bias.
Because you grade every task against the same criteria, weighted scoring also ensures that you view every task using the same standards. This has the benefit of making the grading consistent and much more efficient. In contrast, certain other prioritization models, such as the Eisenhower Matrix or the MoSCoW Method, often require subjective consideration to determine which category each feature belongs to.
In weighted scoring, you decide your own criteria against which features and tasks are judged. This affords you more flexibility in how to gauge your rankings than other frameworks, which already have their own preset criteria.
How Do You Use a Weighted Scoring Model?
Maximizing the use of weighted scoring involves several steps besides the actual grading process. This step-by-step process can help you design your own model.
1. Identify Your Options
Prioritization always begins with listing down the items that need to be considered for your project. Examples include the following:
- Prospective hires
- Brainstormed ideas for product development
- New projects
- Next steps in current projects
- Marketing campaigns
While you’re listing these items, they should not yet be put in any particular order.
2. Select Your Criteria
In this stage, you should decide on the criteria against which each initiative, feature, or option will be judged. This is where the flexibility of weighted scoring comes in. You can create unique criteria for each project or initiative, depending on the goals you want to achieve. Of course, some criteria will maintain their presence across many projects, such as cost and ROI.
3. Establish the Weight of Each Criterion
The most unique part of the weighted scoring model is the weighting itself. Every criterion will have varying importance to the overall project or initiative. For example, depending on your values, you may judge the development of new product features in the following way:
- Cost: 50%
- ROI: 25%
- Sustainability: 15%
- Stakeholder Preference: 10%
In this case, the weight of the “Cost” criterion is as high as all the others combined. That means that it has the biggest impact on the final weighted score. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the list is stakeholder preference, which has the smallest (but still significant) impact on the score.
4. Fill in a Weighted Scoring Matrix and Calculate Your Weighted Scores
With all the pieces in place, it’s time to finally complete the matrix. Using our examples above, we can design a matrix with four criteria. Let’s imagine that we’re scoring four separate features as well.
This is what the weighted scoring chart looks like without any ratings, just features, criteria, and weights.
Now, fill in the ratings based on your evaluation of each feature against the criteria. You may opt to choose a simple rating system with a small range of numbers, like 0 to 5, for convenience.
With these ratings in place, multiply them by the weight of the criteria in the column. Then, sum up the final weighted figures for each feature to get the weighted score.
In this example, we see that Feature 1 has the highest weighted score. Even if it scored very low on Sustainability and Stakeholder Preference metrics, these were not extremely significant criteria. In contrast, Feature 1 scored high on the high-impact Cost and ROI metrics.
The Weighted Scoring Model: Flexible, More Objective Prioritisation and Decision-making
Prioritization is a critical but difficult task that you must approach with utmost care and objectivity. The weighted scoring model allows you to conduct this task, as well as other decision-making processes, in an efficient, repeatable, and objective way. These key features of weighted scoring make it a valuable ally for any product manager.