value-vs-complexity-framework

Value vs. Complexity Framework

The Value vs. Complexity framework is a prioritization model. It allows product teams to evaluate ideas based on how much value they add and how difficult they are to implement. The Value vs. Complexity framework helps businesses prioritize product feature lists during development.

Understanding the Value vs. Complexity framework

In an ideal world, features that provide the most value to the business and customer are rolled out first. But this process ignores their inherent complexity. In other words, how much time, effort, or cost is associated with rolling out each feature?

The Value vs. Complexity framework helps product managers objectively allocate resources to a product initiative based on its perceived benefit. Indeed, the framework offers a standardized decision-making process for many parameters, including product enhancements and fixes.

Completing a Value vs. Complexity analysis

To determine which initiatives to shelve and which to move ahead with, the product team must create a matrix of four equal squares. On the y-axis, value is represented from low to high. On the x-axis, complexity (of implementation) is represented from low to high.

For each feature being considered, the team must then consider the:

  • Anticipated value. For example, will the initiative reduce user pain or improve efficiency? Does it add value to the business through customer acquisition or retention? Will the initiative enhance brand image? Will it impact a large enough audience to make it viable? Value can also be assessed by considering how urgently the market wants it.
  • The effort required to realize this value. Complexity may include operational costs, developer hours, customer or employee training, and risk.

For both axes, the business must determine a consistent and weighted scoring system according to how important it deems each feature attribute. 

Then, each feature is plotted on the matrix in one of four quadrants:

  1. High value/low complexity – initiatives falling into this quadrant are the top priority. Though it is worth noting that most of the tasks occupying this category have likely been completed already.
  2. High value/high complexity – initiatives in the second quadrant have the potential to deliver high value, but their complexity prohibits their implementation. On occasion, these initiatives may be broad, strategic initiatives that require a long-term investment of time and money.
  3. Low value/low complexity – these initiatives are low value, but they may still represent desirable features, nonetheless. Their low complexity makes them attractive to product teams, particularly during transitional periods between projects.
  4. Low value/high complexity – or initiatives that should be avoided completely. This is one of the core strengths of the Value vs. Complexity framework, helping businesses identify initiatives that are likely to represent low ROI.

Key takeaways:

  1. The Value vs. Complexity framework is a feature prioritization model based on the likely value and complexity of implementation of each feature.
  2. The Value vs. Complexity framework allows product managers to implement a standardized, objective decision-making process for new initiatives.
  3. The Value vs. Complexity framework is represented on a matrix of four quadrants. Using a weighted, customized scoring system, a business determines which initiatives are worthy of further exploration.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Related Business Matrices

SFA Matrix

sfa-matrix
The SFA matrix is a framework that helps businesses evaluate strategic options. Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes created the SFA matrix to help businesses evaluate their strategic options before committing. Evaluation of strategic opportunities is performed by considering three criteria that make up the SFA acronym: suitability, feasibility, and acceptability.

Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix

hoshin-kanri-x-matrix
The Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix is a strategy deployment tool that helps businesses achieve goals over the short and long term. Hoshin Kanri is a method that seeks to bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Strategic objectives are clearly defined and the goals of every level of the organization are aligned. With everyone moving in the same direction, process coordination and decision-making ability are strengthened.

Kepner-Tregoe Matrix

kepner-tregoe-matrix
The Kepner-Tregoe matrix was created by management consultants Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe in the 1960s, developed to help businesses navigate the decisions they make daily, the Kepner-Tregoe matrix is a root cause analysis used in organizational decision making.

Eisenhower Matrix

eisenhower-matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that helps businesses prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, the matrix helps businesses and individuals differentiate between the urgent and important to prevent urgent things (seemingly useful in the short-term) cannibalize important things (critical for long-term success).

Decision Matrix

decision-matrix
A decision matrix is a decision-making tool that evaluates and prioritizes a list of options. Decision matrices are useful when: A list of options must be trimmed to a single choice. A decision must be made based on several criteria. A list of criteria has been made manageable through the process of elimination.

Action Priority Matrix

action-priority-matrix
An action priority matrix is a productivity tool that helps businesses prioritize certain tasks and objectives over others. The matrix itself is represented by four quadrants on a typical cartesian graph. These quadrants are plotted against the effort required to complete a task (x-axis) and the impact (benefit) that each task brings once completed (y-axis). This matrix helps assess what projects need to be undertaken and the potential impact for each.

TOWS Matrix

tows-matrix
The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

GE McKinsey Matrix

ge-mckinsey-matrix
The GE McKinsey Matrix was developed in the 1970s after General Electric asked its consultant McKinsey to develop a portfolio management model. This matrix is a strategy tool that provides guidance on how a corporation should prioritize its investments among its business units, leading to three possible scenarios: invest, protect, harvest, and divest.

BCG Matrix

bcg-matrix
In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Growth Matrix

growth-strategies
In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Ansoff Matrix

ansoff-matrix
You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Read Also: RAPID FrameworkRACI Matrix3×3 Sales MatrixValue/effort MatrixSFA matrixValue/Risk MatrixReframing MatrixKepner-Tregoe Matrix.

Read Next: Root Cause Analysis5 Whys.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF FrameworkBCG MatrixGE McKinsey MatrixKotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

Main Free Guides:

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA