Paired Comparison Analysis

When you aren’t certain how to make a decision because you can’t seem to identify good criteria, a paired comparison analysis can be useful. It allows you to compare each item on your list with every other item on the list in order to determine which are the most important. It is also very useful when you are trying to compare things that are completely different from one another.

Let’s imagine that you can’t decide which of the following to focus on first:

• Customer service
• Employee training
• Increasing sales
• Decreasing lost revenue

You start by creating the paired comparison chart. Assign a letter (in this case, A-D) to each of the four items you are trying to prioritize. Then create a grid with each item as a row heading and a column heading. See Figure for an example.
You need to ignore the blocks that have you comparing the item to itself, since there will not be anything to prioritize in those cases. You should then ignore the boxes that are repeating a comparison such as Employee Training vs. Increasing Sales and Increasing Sales vs. Employee Training. Now you can determine the results by adding up the importance scores for each item.

From this analysis, we can determine that increasing sales has the highest priority, followed closely by decreasing lost revenue. These would be the two items to give the most priority to according to this tool.
It’s important to note that although employee training received no rating, that doesn’t mean that it is not important at all – it may already be of high quality or it might just not be as large an area of concern as the other three items.


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