Resource Page: Pugh Matrix

During the month of August – while many are taking time off to enjoy summer – we will be offering a resource page on a different topic each week. The resource page features an overview of the week’s topic and links to the best related content across iSixSigma. This week’s topic is the Pugh matrix.

The Pugh matrix was developed by, and named for, design engineer Stuart Pugh. A criteria-based matrix, it is used to help a team quantitatively determine from several alternatives the “best” solutions for a given problem. Commonly used for product design, it can be applied to virtually  any decision making.

Often used in a team setting, a Pugh matrix facilitates the evaluation of various solutions with respect to defined selection criteria – requirements or desired characteristics of the solution, generally as defined with voice-of-the-customer input. Those solutions can then be compared to a baseline or to one another, blends of ideas can be explored, and the best of all options can be determined by the group.

Consider a family that wants to buy a new car. A simple Pugh matrix analysis of their choices would look like the following.

 Solutions Selection Criteria Baseline – Current Car Car A Car B Car C Fuel system -2 2 -1 Four-door 2 2 -2 Miles per gallon 2 2 Sound system 1 2 -1 Warranty plan 2 -1

The family’s current car is the baseline for this decision and is marked with all zeros. Each of the alternative car options are evaluated against the criteria in the far left column on a range from -2 to 2, with -2 being a poor match to a given criterion and +2 being the best match to a criterion. Car B, with all best match marks, is the best solution based on the specified criteria.

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In more complex analyses, selection criteria can be weighted to more accurately reflect the varying importance of different solution requirements.

To learn more about the Pugh matrix, refer to the following articles and discussions on iSixSigma.com, several of which include real-world examples of this tool’s application: