Impact/Effort Matrix


To help you prioritise ideas, features or solutions through a visual aid.

When To Run This


1 - 1.5 hours


  • List of ideas or features
  • Data from earlier research


  • A team of experts 
  • Tape
  • A large wall space
  • Or butchers paper
  • Markers
  • Post-it notes or A4 paper
  • Blu-tack



  • Choose your team. You’ll need people who are across the research, and ones who have a deep understanding of how to implement your ideas, such as programmers, back of house staff, or managers.

  • Gather data from earlier research to help inform the session. For example, this could be information from Quantitative Research sessions or insights distilled from In-Depth Interviews and Affinity Mapping.

  • Prepare your ideas or features. These can be from a Rapid Ideation session, or a set of features from Rapid Prototyping.

Action It:Action It:

  • Mark out two lines (vertical and horizontal) on your work space. You can use tape if it’s a wall or draw it on your butchers paper.

  • Plot “impact” on the vertical line. This line represents how much an idea will improve the lives of the users or how important a feature is for helping the user complete their task.

  • Plot “effort” on the horizontal line. This represents how much effort the idea takes to implement. For example, a high effort feature might need a restructure of back end systems, whereas a low effort one is easily be released without affecting too many.

  • Break down your ideas or features into stand alone pieces, i.e. one feature per post-it.

  • Talk through and place them directly on the matrix.

  • Discuss and adjust as you work through them. Make sure your “impact” placements are accurate by basing them on your research data.

Next Steps:Next Steps:

  • Recap the outcomes for your team. 

    1. The low effort and high impact ideas should be the first to be released. These are quick wins that could significantly improve the lives of your users.
    2. You should think about where the low effort/low impact and high effort/high impact ideas fit in the Future State.
  • Make the idea happen. Considering doing Rapid Prototyping or Live Prototyping to make your innovation real so that you can test and learn from it.

  • Choose the necessary features. Which ones does your innovation need to be able to help a user complete the main task that it was designed for? These should be placed as highest on the impact scale and will form your MVP feature set.

  • Consider which features aren’t needed. These would be the features not identified in Step 12. Prioritise them in order of effort and add them to your future initiatives. When you’re ready to implement these, start with lower effort features before you move onto higher ones.



  • To realistically benchmark the amount of effort your idea will take, your team needs to have people who understand how to implement it.
  • To realistically benchmark how much impact an idea or concept will have, you’ll need data to back it up.


It's Going Well When:

  • You know where to place each item - the effort and impact are easy to estimate
  • There’s an even distribution of all the items (they don’t group in one area)

Watch Out For:

  • Items grouping in the high impact area - make sure you have the data to measure exactly how much a solution will impact the users
  • Items clustering in the middle of the effort scale - make sure you have the people who know how to implement it making these decisions e.g the relevant tech lead to advise on digital solutions.