Pugh Matrix

Pugh Matrix
  • Also known as Pugh Method, Decision Matrix, and Criteria Based Matrix.

    Variants include Solution Desirability Matrix and Pairwise Comparison Matrix.

    A Pugh Matrix is a decision method that is used to compare and select the best option from a set of alternatives. It helps determining which alternative is more valuable than the others based on predefined criteria. One advantage of this method is that it does not require a great amount of quantitative data. Furthermore, subjective opinions about one alternative versus another can be made more objective.

    The Pugh matrix is a form of prioritization matrix in which the candidate alternatives are compared against a reference or standard. This reference or standard can be either the current solution that already exists, or a goal or benchmark to be reached in the future. The Pugh method allows for example to compare multiple design concepts versus a baseline design using customer requirements as the criteria for comparison.

    The Pugh matrix is often used by engineers when making design decisions to evaluate multiple design concepts during the product development cycle. It can in fact be used in a number of other applications, such as deciding which investment to take, which vendor to select, and which improvement project to initiate. It can also be used when improving or redesigning processes to select the solution that will achieve the best performance results.

    Developing a list of evaluation criteria is the first step before evaluating the candidate alternatives. Each criteria can optionally be given a weighted value to indicate its importance as perceived by the team and other stakeholders. The more important the criteria, the higher the weight it can be. The evaluation criteria and their weights can be set by the team members working to select the best alternative or by a group of experts in a dedicated session.

    An evaluation criteria development session
    An evaluation criteria development session

    After developing the evaluation criteria, the team has to work through the matrix and determine how each alternative is compared with the baseline solution using pluses and minuses. The final scores can be obtained by adding up the weighted scores for each alternative. The selection of the best alternative is then made based on the obtained scores. Typically, the best alternative is the one with the most pluses and the fewest minuses. Further solutions can be developed by combining the positive aspects of a number of options.

    Scoring is applied in the form of pluses and minuses
    Example of a Pugh Matrix Template

    Constructing and Using the Pugh Matrix

    A Pugh matrix exercise is best when it is conducted in team. It is important however to include people with enough knowledge of the situation to avoid missing any critical point. The following steps describe how to construct and use the Pugh matrix.

    1. With your team, clearly explain the purpose for constructing the Pugh matrix.
    2. Prepare the list of candidate alternatives and identify the relevant evaluation criteria.
    3. Draw a table, then place the evaluation criteria in the left-hand column and the candidate alternatives in the top row.
    4. Select a baseline solution or benchmark to be used as the standard for comparison.
    5. Ask the team to indicate how the baseline solution is compared with each of the alternatives by placing a plus, minus, or zero.
    6. Notice the highest score solution, the one with the most pluses and the fewest minuses.
    7. Look for opportunities to combine the best aspects of different solutions.


    The following is an example of a Pugh matrix that was created to select the best concept from among three candidate alternatives.

    Pugh Matrix Example

    The following is the same example after applying a weighting factor.

    Pugh Matrix Example

    There are many tools that can help you to select the best solution from a set of alternatives. The simplest way is to use this Pugh matrix template.

    Other Formats

    If you want to use the following three documents in your training courses, the PPTX versions are available to buy from our Shop page.

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