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What Is a Weighted Scoring Model and How to Use It Effectively?

Every product boasts more than one feature. Even a humble water bottle could have an extensive list of them, like an ergonomic grip or BPA-free materials. So, if you’ve got a much more complex product on your hands, how do you sift through your laundry list of features and prioritize? Say hello to our little friend, the Weighted Scoring Model – a systematic approach to weighing your options.

Facing decision fatigue? Read on to learn:

  • What this decision-making tool is all about and how it calculates the perfect mix of factors.
  • How to create your very own weighted scoring model.
  • The full scoop on the model’s strengths and weaknesses.

What Is the Weighted Scoring Model?

The weighted scoring model is your golden ticket to an objective prioritization process. It’s a prioritization framework that helps you make informed decisions within the project management or product management sphere. Although this model could sound math-heavy, it’s more focused on assigning a number to each feature or option based on a criterion. These criteria could be things like customer impact or time to market.

And the best part is – it’s not as rigid as you might think. It’s actually an extremely customizable model that lets you choose what criteria are most valuable to you, adjust the weights, and how you want to visualize that data. It’ll take the bias out of the equation so you can figure out your next course of action.

What Is the Difference Between the Unweighted and Weighted Scoring Framework?

Now, there’s a difference between unweighted and weighted scoring frameworks. The unweighted version treats each criterion equally, with no regard for their individual importance. It’s sort of like going to the dollar store back in the day, where every item is priced at $1, no matter what it is.

The weighted scoring framework, on the other hand, does consider each item’s independent factors. That’s like going to a buffet and seeing extra costs for some of the premium items – those items likely cost more and take more effort to prepare and thus, need to be reflected in the price tag.

How Is Weighted Scoring Calculated?

A product manager wrestling with which features to prioritize for a project management software might pick technical viability, user satisfaction, and business impact as their three criteria. These criteria cover a lot of ground and reflect the most important aspects of the project.

Weights are then assigned to each criterion based on how important they are and need to tally up to 100%. User satisfaction might be assigned 50%, technical viability might get 20%, and business impact could be 30%. Let’s use Fibery to illustrate:

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If your two features are task tracking and collaboration features, you’d then score each criterion on a scale of your choosing. For this example, we’ll use a simple 1 to 10 scale.

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Once all those figures are assigned, it’s time to do the calculations. Here in Fibery, we’ve used the formula feature to perform the calculation based on the numeric fields in our databases.

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For the task tracking feature, the weighted score would be:

(7 x 0.5) + (8 x 0.3) + (7 x 0.2) = 3.5 + 2.4 + 1.4 = 7.3

For the collaboration features, the weighted score would be:

(8 x 0.5) + (7 x 0.3) + (5 x 0.2) = 4 + 2.1 + 1 = 7.1

In this case, the task tracking feature wins as a first priority.

How Are Weighted Scoring Results Analyzed?

Weighted scoring isn’t just a game of numbers, however. The scoring results have to be analyzed further if you want them to be meaningful. It can help to backtrack and go back to those individual scores you assigned to each criterion and how each feature performed across those criteria. 

The fact that collaboration scored high on user satisfaction and low on technical viability might mean there’s great user demand, but technical challenges are in the way. That’s considered a trade-off, where something comes at the expense of another. 

In certain circumstances, differences between final scores could be more statistically significant than the results we got in our example. A wider difference could mean one has a clear preference or has an obvious advantage to the project, while in some cases where differences are miniscule, the broader context could take over.

When to Use Weighted Scoring Method in Product and Project Management?

Feature prioritization isn’t the only area that could benefit from the weighted scoring method – although it’s one of the most common. Here are a couple of other scenarios in which it could work wonders:

  • Allocating resources
  • Selecting a vendor or supplier
  • Calculating risk management
  • Strategic planning
  • Making just about any decision

How to Create a Weighted Scoring Model?

Before you start any calculations, it can be extra valuable to take the time to craft your own personal model. It can be easy to go with an overly simple template, but it pays off once you receive your outputs.

  1. What’s the Decision? – Start by pinpointing what you’re trying to do with this scoring model. There needs to be a real reason why you’re going with this framework and the choices, features, or objectives you’re deciding between.
  2. Brainstorm Your Criteria – The criteria you choose should be closely relevant to those objectives you just chose. Do you truly care about cost-effectiveness at the moment, or do you have ample funds to fund each and every initiative? Don’t just stick to solely qualitative or quantitative criteria either – aim for a mix for best results.
  3. Pick a Suitable Scoring Option – With a variety of scoring options out there, you could go for a scale of 1 - 5 or 1 - 100, a percentage scale, or even assign numbers to qualitative descriptors if that makes more sense to you. 
  4. Iterate – Sometimes, it takes a little trial and error to work out what’s most effective for the decision-making process. After your calculations, you might realize that the scoring option you’re using isn’t giving you the right outcomes or certain criteria don’t capture context well enough. That’s a sign that you need to go back and reiterate so you can try again.
  5. Make Your Findings Communicable – Everyone else that’s involved in the project needs to stay in the loop. Especially if you’ve reached a few revelations with the weighted scoring model, you’ll want to communicate this to the wider team and any stakeholders. Fibery can give you a detailed breakdown of your features and criteria and let you craft your own formulas to calculate your weighted scores.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Weighted Scoring Model

As useful as the weighted scoring model is, it still has its downsides, just like any other framework or tool.

The weighted scoring model is good for:

  • Staying aligned – Every decision will link back to the priorities of your project and business, so all outcomes make an impression.
  • Making decisions objectively – Weighted scoring models let calculations do the talking. With all the prioritizing done in an objective manner, the final decision is less influenced by biases and opinions.
  • Coming to a consensus – As everyone can play a part in defining objectives, criteria, and weights, there’s a highly collaborational aspect with the scoring model. All parties enjoy a shared understanding of priorities through their collective involvement.

It’s not so good:

  • If you just can’t come to a consensus on weights – Weights very much determine the outcome. And especially if you’ve picked a small and simple scoring option like a scale of 1 - 5, there’s limited wiggle room and stronger potential disagreements over weights. For example, what would tip the scales between a 3 and a 4?
  • If you need lots of quantitative context – Although you can use quantitative measures to a small degree, this model prioritizes the quantitative. That leaves a lot of important aspects to the wayside, such as brand perception and cultural fit.
  • If you need flexibility – Once you’ve created your custom weighted scoring model, it can easily become obsolete if there are profound changes to stakeholder or audience preferences or changing project requirements.

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Use the Weighted Scoring Model

It’s nice to have options – but sometimes, having too many options puts us at a standstill. The weighted scoring model is one of those valuable tools that give us clarity when we’re stuck and uncertain. It can get us out of a rut and put us back on a road full of opportunities.

Fibery is the perfect platform if you’re looking for a place to experiment with all sorts of frameworks in product management. It can help you track your progress, organize your ideas, manage your tasks, and visualize all your decisions in whatever way you find most suitable. The software also integrates seamlessly with existing tools and workflows so you can consolidate all your activities. 

With a 14-day trial, you can discover just how simple and effective your project and product management initiatives can be.

Giving your entire product management strategy an overhaul? Delve into more insights and product strategy frameworks on our blog.

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