Decision-Making Techniques

Decision making is used in all aspects of project management for example approval of a business case, evaluating proposed solutions, choosing a vendor or resources to work on a project, mitigating risks and approval of change requests. The decisions that are made have wide-ranging effects on the project and can mean the difference between success and failure.

There isn’t one single Decision-Making Technique that can be applied to all decisions made on a project, instead, there are a variety of techniques that can be used. Choosing the correct technique is as important as the outcome of the decision-making process. Having access to many different techniques will allow a project manager to choose the appropriate one for the decision that is being made.

For example, using Decision Making Techniques for choosing team members to work on a project could be based on the following criteria:

  • The skills, knowledge and experience of a candidate
  • Available at the times required by the project
  • Whether the cost will fit within the project budget
  • Attitude towards the project or other team members

The decision needs to be based on more than one of those criteria, so a scoring system could be used where each candidate is scored on each of the factors and a decision is made based on the highest score. Weighting can be applied to emphasise the importance of any of those factors if required.

When managing risks, the criteria used to form a risk response strategy might include:

  • Ranking risks on the basis severity and likelihood of occurring
  • Cost of the mitigation or avoidance of the risk
  • Effectiveness of the risk mitigation
  • The effect of the mitigation on other areas of the project

Some of the Decision-Making Techniques that can be used are:

  • A scoring matrix based on predefined criteria with weighting for more important factors
  • Voting on the decision and deciding based on a majority
  • Autocratic decisions – a senior member of the project team makes the decision