In September 2008 I wrote an article on Analytic Hierarchy Process - a method to prioritize and evaluate the weight of factors in a complex decision. Basically it works like this: you come up with the factors for your decision. Rather than trying to figure out their individual weight you pit each factor against any of the other factors. The mathematical model then calculates the weights for you.
Read more in this article
I recently made good use of this method: I am a member of a panel of judges for an international competition for business innovation and quality. We wanted to have a structured way to weigh the factors in deciding the score of an application for the award in one of several categories. This would help create a standardized scoring sheet in which a judge has to decide a "grade" for each factor and that grade is multiplied by the weight to generate a weighted overall score for the applicant.
In each award category we had between 4 and 6 factors: e.g. "strategic impact on the organization", "leadership participation, etc.". With a panel of over 10 judges it would be difficult to agree that "strategic impact" should carry a weight of precisely 40%. Instead we used the AHP process and voted on pairs of factors and weigh them against each other.
I have updated the excel template and enhanced the VBscript code to support the following:
1. The template now allows for as many as 6 factors
2. You can have up to 4 tabs of AHP factors to work with in a single workbook. This was helpful to us because we worked out the weights for 4 categories in the competition, each with 4-6 factors.
Read the original AHP posting and download the updated excel spreadsheet there.