Impact-Effort Matrix

What is an Impact-Effort Matrix?

The Impact-Effort Matrix is a prioritization technique that makes it possible to evaluate the merits of working on one feature versus another, taking into account the relative importance (in terms of impact) and the relative importance of working on any given feature. 

What’s the Benefit?

The benefits of this technique:

  • Makes it easier to identify “quick wins”
  • Helps avoid situations where a significant amount of work is invested in something with little to no business impact 


Impact-effort mapping tends to be particularly helpful when a team needs to make prioritization decisions under circumstances such as the following:

  • When getting ready to work on a new project, product, or initiative
  • When planning the work over the short to medium term, for example, in an Agile Release Planning context

Who Attends?

The following people would typically be present

  • Facilitator (often a Scrum Master, for a Scrum team)
  • Product Manager / Product Owner
  • Team members


  • A list of features (or similar work items, e.g., user stories)
  • A basic understanding of each of the features, in terms of the technical approach to be taken, and the business context


  • A re-sorted list of features, taking into account relative impact, and relative effort

Preparing for Success

To prepare to facilitate a session where an Impact-Effort is intended to be used, it’s helpful to put some thought into the following in advance:

  • Have a basic understanding of what the impact is expected to be of each item that is to be discussed (which is another way of saying what the desired outcome is from each item) 
  • You will need to have a shared understanding of what the relative size is of each item to be discussed (for instance, the T-Shirt size is a reasonably simple representation of relative effort) 


Complete steps similar to the following to use the Impact-Effort Matrix:

  1. List the things to be prioritized in a visible place 
  2. Either using physical media (e.g., Post-it Notes or index cards), or an electronic tool, such as Miro or Mural, as a group, place each of the items to be prioritized into quadrants, based on two considerations: 
    • The expected impact (high or low) of each thing 
    • The relative effort (high or low) of each thing 
  3. Focus the initial conversation on items that fall in the upper left quadrant (high impact, low effort) 
  4. Then talk about items that fall in the either the low effort/low impact quadrant (lower left), or those that fall in the high impact/high effort  quadrant (upper right) 
  5. Use the completed matrix to inform current and future planning conversations