The functionality of a characteristic selection matrix is very similar to that of other matrices like a project priority matrix or prioritization matrix.

What is a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM)?

A characteristic selection matrix is a table used to identify, analyze, and evaluate the relationship strength between various sets of data.

3 benefits of a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM)

There are some key benefits to utilizing a characteristic selection matrix that are worth noting:

1. Assessment

This matrix can be particularly useful in the examination of a wealth of decision factors and then in assessing their relative importance.

2. Supplier evaluation

This matrix can be an ideal tool for evaluating suppliers in relation to how in sync they are with the goals and values of the company.

3. Alternative solutions

This matrix can be beneficial in weighing alternative solutions to problems beyond the present course of action.

Why is a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM) important to understand?

Understanding a CSM is important for the following reasons:

1. Decision-making

Sometimes there can be way too many factors at play that can make it difficult to assess what is important and what is the best decision to make. A CSM can help make sense of all of these factors for you.

2. Saving time

Understanding how to utilize a CSM can save you a great deal of time in making sense of information, thereby cutting back on waste.

3. Recognizing relationships

Having a working knowledge of a CSM provides you with a tool that can help you recognize relationships that may not be clear otherwise.

An industry example of a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM)

A company is having an issue with its current policy of how to collect from customers that they are working with on a consignment basis. A team of employees uses a characteristic selection matrix in order to weigh possible alternative ways of handling business with customers that do not pay upfront. They come up with various criteria that should be met by the alternatives, rank the criteria by their degree of importance, and determine how well each potential alternative meets each of the criteria. When the team leader adds the scores up, it is determined that gradually moving this section of their customer base into Net 30 accounts is the best course of action.

6 best practices when thinking about a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM)

Here are some practices to keep in mind when putting together a characteristic selection matrix:

1. Identify potential alternatives

These can be anything from project features to process steps, depending on the needs of your team. These should go at the top of your matrix.

2. Criteria

This can come from an affinity diagram or from a team brainstorming session. Be sure that everyone on the team has a clear understanding of what each criteria item means. A high score for each criterion will be favorable, and a low score will be unfavorable. You will put these on the left side of the matrix.

3. Assigning of importance

If some criteria are clearly more important than others, agree among the team on what the appropriate rating is to assign them.

4. Scoring system

Agree on a scoring system where the entire team has a common understanding of what the scores represent.

5. Evaluate the alternatives

Assign a consensus score to each alternative when compared to how well they serve each criterion. Come up with a consensus score for each or average out the individual scores given by each team member.

6. Getting the total scores

Multiply each criteria’s degree of importance by the scores given to each alternative. Take these results and add up the scores for each alternative. The top score is which alternative is the best at meeting the most important criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about a Characteristic Selection Matrix (CSM)

What is a limitation of this kind of matrix?

The criteria could be arbitrary or biased.

Can this matrix be used outside of business decisions?

Absolutely. It can be used in evaluating decisions big and small, as well as personal or business-related.

What materials are needed to create this type of matrix?

You could do it on a whiteboard, with a spreadsheet, or even just with a piece of paper. There are also several online templates available.

Using a CSM whenever it can help

Whenever you need to make a decision and are having a hard time deciding between your options, creating a CSM and evaluating your alternatives can be extremely helpful in evaluating what will best meet your needs.

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