Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

EXSITE! Using the "high-low importance/easy-difficult' matrix


Continuous Improvement and Planning Team

EXSITE! Using the "high-low importance/easy-difficult' matrix

Using this matrix, you can plot where each of the major items of stakeholder feedback might fit, and then make decisions on those you will address and the way in which you might address them.

Obviously, if improvements are seen as having low importance to the stakeholder, they are not worth doing, unless they are very simply addressed and can enhance service.

Those improvements of high importance to the stakeholder that are easy to do may be in short supply–if they were easy to fix, the chances are you would already have fixed them.  However, if there are issues in that quadrant–then just fix them!

Improvements of importance to the stakeholders that you see as difficult to address are often issues that have been seen (particularly by stakeholder contact staff) as problems for some time, but for some reason or other have not been satisfactorily addressed.  The fact that stakeholders are now saying improvement is needed provides a strong case for their resolution, even if the solution is hard to find or implement.

With the ‘high leverage’ issues you have identified, consider the following possibilities:

  • A longer-term continuous improvement process may be needed.
  • In some cases a policy change may need to be effected.
  • Stakeholder education, alternative service delivery processes, or a demand management strategy may be called for, where there are intractable service issues or limited resources, policy issues or so on. 
  • Where multiple causes for low performance are evident, several interventions may be needed. 
  • Where incremental improvement in performance is needed, such as reduced response times, improvement targets may need to be incorporated into the business plan.  These targets need to have some ‘stretch’ in them, without being unrealistic, and without compromising performance on other key service attributes.  Try to make these targets quantifiable, (for instance, turnaround times, queue duration), so that you can measure progress.

The benefits of obtaining importance/performance feedback and conducting a gap analysis become clear at the improvement planning stage.  Without a clear sense of priorities, it is impossible to select where improvement efforts should be directed, especially if many opportunities for improvement are indicated.  In fact, if the gap analysis shows areas of 'over servicing', that is, where performance exceeds expectations, then resources can possibly be redirected to areas that need them more.

Plotting stakeholder feedback on an importance/performance matrix, shown below, can help guide improvement work.  Those service elements that are seen as of high importance but rate low on service performance should be singled out for improvement.  The highlighted area below shows the services or service attributes that should be addressed.Importance/Performance Matrix 

The main areas that tend to be addressed when planning service improvements are:

  • Ensuring frontline service and delivery processes are capable
  • Developing and maintaining healthy stakeholder relationships 
  • Encouraging and responding to stakeholder complaints 
  • Managing and improving service

Other issues that you may need to address before even beginning to move on these areas may be the development of a service vision, constructing a stakeholder service policy, ensuring the commitment of staff at all levels, providing appropriate service leadership and so on.

Once you have agreed on the key service improvements you will implement, you could use an improvement project plan such as the following, to record your plans and ensure coordination.

 

Task
Summary

 

Step/Task

 

Resources

 

Pre-requisites

 

Person
Responsible

 

Start/Finish

 

Outcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Adapted from 2004 Monash University ABN 12 377 614 012  Last updated: 23 May 2005 – Maintained by cheq@adm.monash.edu.au
 


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