Drill Down Into Decisions Using Visualizations

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Decision Lens excels at taking a decision involving a large array of options that overwhelms unaided human cognitive capabilities, and boiling it down to a much smaller set of decisions that humans can comfortably process. In some cases, stakeholders may want to "drill down" into specific decisions involving a handful of alternatives from a much larger set of alternatives. This “drill down” process is easy to achieve using a few simple visualizations.

In many cases, simple prioritization or budget allocation decisions can be completed using a few basic visualizations, mainly Sensitivity Analysis (prioritization), Value-ROI (budget allocation), or Bubble Charts (both). In some cases, a deeper dive is necessary when stakeholders need to compare individual alternatives in greater detail. Decision Lens has several visualization options to support this.

Trade Off Analysis

Trade Off Analysis focuses stakeholder attention on the specific sources of value among a small set of competing alternatives. Because it focuses on value (benefit) and ignores cost, it might be most applicable in situations where the alternatives being compared are of comparable costs, or where cost is not relevant.

There are a few ways to arrive at Trade Off Analysis in leading stakeholders through analyzing a portfolio. In a simple prioritization, stakeholders viewing rankings in Sensitivity Analysis might identify a few alternatives that yield comparable overall Priority Value scores, but that derive their value from different criteria. With a few alternatives to compare, the Analyst can quickly take stakeholders to a more detailed comparison.

The same approach applies to budget allocation decisions where the Value-ROI Chart suggests competing options for the last bit of funding where the VROI Index (benefit - cost ratio) is very comparable. This is typically an area on the Value-ROI Chart where the VROI Index orange trend line flattens, and the funding cuts off. This is illustrated below.

These projects represent the “margin” of the decision, and where the stakeholder team might focus its attention as it reviews the allocation results. These projects are comparable from a “bang for buck” perspective, but individually offer different costs and benefit profiles. Zooming in on this segment of the VROI Index highlights the competing alternatives, at which point stakeholders might opt for a more detailed comparison. The zoom result is pictured below.


Once stakeholders have zeroed in on relative few choices for completing their decision, Trade Off Analysis can be applied with ease. A few pointers for leading stakeholders through this analysis:

  • Start with displaying all scored criteria using unweighted scores (see below). This provides a slightly stronger visual.
  • As you compare each project’s relative performance on each criterion, eliminate the criteria where project scores (dots) overlap, as these criteria do not differentiate the options. This should simplify your "spider web" diagram.
  • The remaining criteria on the "spider web diagram" are the true differentiators among the subset of alternatives. At this point, you can set priorities to "weighted" to account for stakeholder priorities.

At this point you have narrowed down the Trade Off Analysis to the projects and criteria that truly define the choices for stakeholders and differentiate the options.


Compare Scenario and Trade Off Analysis

A budget allocation decision that employs Resource Balancer and multiple scenarios can use the Compare Scenario visualization to enable stakeholders to easily drill down into more detailed trade off comparisons. Compare Scenario is a powerful visualization that quickly identifies how different funding strategies produce different outcomes, and enables stakeholders to easily understand these differences (and commonalities) in order to make a final decision.

Use the “always funded” and “never funded” filters to show where the scenarios agree. “Always funded” projects are the most competitive projects as they receive funding under any set of assumptions, “Never funded” projects are the least competitive, and can be discarded unless they require funding for strategic reasons.

Use the “sometimes funded” filter to focus stakeholders on the true decision frontier, or “trade space” where individual project funding options can be assessed comparatively side by side.  This microeconomic level of analysis may not always be necessary, but the Analyst should make stakeholders aware that the decision to allocate the final remaining resources can be optimized according to whatever assumptions stakeholders feel are most appropriate.

In the examples below, a Fund by Priority Value funding strategy and Fund by VROI strategy are compared, with the scenario results filtered to “sometimes” funded projects impacting one division. Imagine the division managers in the room being presented with these options. They decide to focus on Economic Value (performance metric displayed on left) and see two options of varying costs. They cannot afford both projects. Which one is best?


While project 18 costs more than project 46, it also delivers relatively higher value in terms of end user impact and overall outcomes. Project 18 is worth the incremental investment!






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