How to prioritise solutions based on an impact vs effort matrix?

In the real world resources (i.e. time, money, personnel etc.) are limited. Therefore you need a way to prioritise what solutions get implemented. An impact effort matrix is a decision making framework that is used to determine which solutions should be tackled first.

How to prioritise solutions?

To do this we will create an Impact / Effort Matrix. This helps us develop this shared understanding amongst the team by providing a collaborative visual tool for assessing what the impact will be for solving a particular issue and the effort that will be required by the specialists who will be tasked to solve it.


The objective of the exercise is to create an impact / effort matrix for each solution identified in the pain vs frequency matrix by ranking:

  1. the impact of a solution against (the impact is determined by the pain vs frequency matrix)
  2. the effort required to implement the solution.
  3. Plotting the impact and effort for a given solution onto an impact effort matrix to determine how to phase project implementation. 


  • 3 different coloured sticky notes 
  • Permanent marker 
  • Process stakeholders
  • Empathy Mapping Canvas template (optional)
  • RealtimeBoard Software (optional)


  1. Stakeholders take the user needs sticky note from a value chain map and place it in the user needs field. Specialists take the solution type sticky note and place it in the solution type field. Note that solution types can be:
    1. Legal Solutions
    2. Policy Solutions
    3. Procedural Solutions
    4. Technology Solutions
  1. Stakeholders rank the impact that the user need would have on the Key Performance Indicators of a process if it was solved. The impact can be ranked either as Low Impact or High Impact.
  2. Specialists from Legal, Policy, Operations and IT take each component of the solution from the value chain map and rank the effort it would take to solve the issue. The effort can be ranked either as either Low Effort or High Effort.
  3. Using the impact / effort matrix, stakeholders plot the impact against the effort of each solution on to an impact / effort matrix to determine how to prioritise project implementation activities.

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