Evaluating Alternative Solutions for a Decision Analysis
Published: Feb 4, 2005
Updated Jan. 2, 2012
This is Part 2 of the Alternative Solutions section in the Decision Analysis unit. It contains the evaluation
of the alternative solutions listed in Part 1 and is an addition or extension of the solutions section of the Decision Analysis.
For a more complex decision you may prefer to separate listing from assessing the worthiness of each solution. This is similar to brainstorming where
ideas flow much more freely before any opinions are expressed or judgements made.
Adjusting your decision making mindset
- Try to eliminate personal feelings, prejudices and preferences.
- Avoid wasting time seeking a perfect solution by concluding you can only do the best you can.
- Establish the criteria for your area of concern.
- Consider the effectiveness of group decision making.
- Advantages - range of knowledge & experience, more energy and resources, more motivation and participation and more support during the implementation.
- Disadvantages - group think, time consumption, reconciliation delays and possible relying on others to do work.
- Make yourself aware of relevant trends in your community, your industry and other surrounding conditions.
- Separate the workable alternative solutions from the worthless.
- Ensure whether you are addressing one or more problems and if there is a need to separate or differentiate.
- Identify your alternatives by such attributes as constraints, feasibility, practicality and affordability.
- If appropriate, perform a simple sort on a sheet of paper or on cards or in a word-processing file. This could be an initial sort for subsequent and more
- If possible, quantify the advantages, disadvantages and SWOT analyses.
- Prioritize or ascribe a rank order to the alternative solutions.
An example of a simple matrix for ranking a number of alternatives.
| ||A||B||C||D||Row Sum||Rank|
|Alternative A|| ||1||0||0||1||3rd|
|Alternative B||0|| ||0||0||0||4th|
|Alternative C||1||1|| ||1||3||1st|
|Alternative D||1||1||0|| ||2||2nd|
How it works
- The letters A, B, C and D identify your various alternative options.
- Starting with Alternative A row, compare its preference with each of the other alternatives.
- Enter a score of 1 when the row "Alternative A" is more preferred and a score of 0 when the column alternative is more preferred (A is less preferred.)
- Continue scoring for each row alternative.
- In the "Row Sum" column, enter the total of scores for each row.
- Give the highest score top or "1st" ranking. Rank other scores accordingly.
Theoretically, there is no limit to the number alternatives in each matrix. Practically, you may have to split the matrices by some classification.
This type of matrix is extremely helpful when more than one decision maker is ranking the alternatives.
For an example of ranking alternative options refer to Using a Decision Ranking Matrix.
Or, for a more complex weighting of alternatives refer to our Decision Making Chart for Small Business Decisions where
you can ascribe scores to qualitative attributes.
You can also use diagrams, mind maps or charts if these suit your way of visualizing and thinking.
- Look for various combinations for compromise, hybrids or merging.
- Consider opportunities that will be foregone if a solution is adopted.
- List alternate uses of financial or other resources that will be claimed by each solution.
- Calculate the short (lease / contract out) or long (purchase / hire new staff) term benefits.
- Look for opportunities for trial runs, hedging, delays, backups, fallback positions or incremental implementations.
- Determine if all required resources are available including reserves for possible mishaps.
- Match and compare solution with your goals and objectives.
- Anticipate your degree of control over the outcomes.
- Identify if a solution is considered a temporary or permanent solution.
- Identify alternatives which are irreversible.
- Anticipate any possible internal or external opposition.
- Consider the ethics and public perceptions.
- Forecast possible future cost changes (computer hardware, equipment, peripherals, etc.) and estimated shelf life.
- Calculate competitors' reactions and counteractions.
- Weigh the validity of third party opinions and intuition.
- Whenever possible, suggest a "sleep-on-it" delay for contemplation.
Decision Analysis Sections