Six lessons on using criteria to choose "best fit" processes

Craig Reid

How easy would life be if we only ever had one option? Remember Henry Ford?

OK, I'll have a black one Mr. Ford - thanks very much, next please. Sometime life is complicated and throws up more than one option, particularly for processes.

For example, in the morning I have two options of getting to work: car & train.

Actually I have many more options than that, don't I? I could walk, cycle, run, hang-glide, helicopter it, swim, etc. So there's the first lesson when choosing a process:

Lesson 1: Consider ALL the options, not just the ones you think might work (because you just never know what might work out best)

OK, so am I going to swim 14k to work? Probably not. Am I going to hangglide? Not unless I want to die a hideous death.

Lesson 2. Eliminate all options that definitely won't work

So when all is done and said I have a few options: Car, Bus, Train, Bike and Ferry. But how do I decide? There are several factors in the decision - it isn't just a matter of how expensive it is or how fast it is. So how do I take that into account?

Lesson 3: List your criteria for the decision

So I come up with my criteria: Journey Time, Comfort, Price, Productivity (to explain that am I able to do productive stuff like work at the same time I travel).

But once I have those criteria decided I need to work out how important each of them are to me.

Lesson 4: Give the criteria weightings

I come up with what is most important to me, so for example I rate each score out of ten. Next it's time to score each and come up with the totals. But wait have I forgotten anything, have I missed anything? Yes, I've realised that I've forgotten a criteria score that covers risk! Which form of transport am I likely to be bombed by terrorists on? Or exposed to swine flu!?? So before you rate, you need one more lesson:

5. Review all options from the start

This is a bit like agile software development where you loop round and pick up what defects you've missed on the first pass. Then it's just a matter of:

6. Adding up the scores

So once you've got all your criteria sorted, you plug in your scores, multiply the weighting by the rating, sum the totals and you should have what is the "best fit" process option.

This technique can be used for any method of comparison - choosing software, a vendor, a process - anything! It's remarkably simple and remarkably effective.

Just shows you - not everything needs to be complicated...


First published on Reprinted with permission.