What is the GUT Matrix and How to Use it with Agile?

If you have the challenge of prioritizing tasks, a GUT Matrix is what you need.

Making efficient and intelligent management of any company can be a mission not as easy as it seems.

It may even require the work of specialized professionals, which generates expenses that are not in the budget of small businesses.

The issue becomes even more serious when we talk about the planning and controlling sector, as a small problem can be synonymous with a hole in the budget.

Without the correct budget data, for example, analysis reports will be poorly prepared, will not contain accurate information, and, as a result, will lead managers to make wrong decisions.

In this article, you will understand what means GUT Matrix is and how you can use it with Agile to make priority decisions for your teams.

What is the GUT Matrix?

The GUT Matrix is ​​a tool that helps in problem-solving prioritization (that’s why you can call it a Priority Matrix).

The GUT analysis is widely used in those issues where guidance is needed to make complex decisions and which require the analysis of various problems. For this, with the GUT system, it is possible to classify each problem according to Gravity, Urgency, and Trend.

In most cases there is an association of the GUT Method with the SWOT Matrix, as it is commonly used to analyze the priority of problem-solving both in the internal and external environment (you can use it with PDCA Cycle, Pareto Diagram, or Diagram of Ishikawa).

The main advantage of this prioritization matrix is ​​that it provides a quantitative assessment of the problems of an area or the organization as a whole, enabling corrective and preventive actions to be prioritized so that the problem is eliminated (partially or in its entirety).

How do the 3 elements of the GUT array work?

The key to understanding and using the GUT matrix effectively lies in knowing its 3 problem classification criteria.

Gravity (G)

Represented by the letter “G”, gravity is the criterion that assesses the impact or intensity that the problem can generate if it is not resolved. You can assess damage both quantitatively and qualitatively, depending on the subject and context.

Here, it is necessary to analyze all the points that could be affected, such as employees, results, processes, etc. Other serious effects can include the loss of important customers or even damage to the brand image.

The gravity score ranges from 1 to 5, according to the following scale:

  • 1 -Weightless;
  • 2- Not serious;
  • 3- Serious;
  • 4- Very serious;
  • 5- Extremely serious.

Urgency (U)

Symbolized by the letter “U”, urgency is related to time. The faster a situation needs to be resolved, the more urgent it is. Therefore, this is a factor that takes into account the deadline and the “pressure” to solve a problem.

Urgent problems are usually those that have deadlines defined by law, or those that depend on the response time for customers.

The urgency score ranges from 1 to 5, as follows:

  • 1- It can wait;
  • 2- Not very urgent;
  • 3- Urgent, it deserves attention in the short term;
  • 4- Very urgent;
  • 5- Need for immediate action.

Trend (T)

Represented by the letter “T”, the trend refers to the pattern of evolution of the situation. In other words, it indicates whether the problem tends to get worse quickly, or whether it should remain stable if left unresolved.

Therefore, a subject with a high trend score should get bigger all of a sudden.

You can analyze problems based on the development they will have in the absence of effective action to resolve them. The growth potential of the problem represents the probability that it will become larger over time.

The trend score also ranges from 1 to 5. The criteria are:

  • 1- It won’t change;
  • 2- It will get worse in the long run;
  • 3- It will get worse in the medium term;
  • 4- It will get worse in the short term;
  • 5- It will get worse quickly.

When to use GUT Matrix?

In general, you can use the GUT Matrix in any situation in which it is necessary to make decisions that require a more careful analysis of certain scenarios.

Because the result of applying the tool is a list of prioritized items, it makes it possible to know what to do first. Information that is often crucial for the effectiveness of solving a problem.

In addition, it is still possible to know where to allocate resources to avoid further damage to the organization. There are some applications of the GUT Matrix:

Problem prioritization

The main use of the GUT Matrix is ​​to guide problem-solving through prioritization.

Often, in certain contexts, it is necessary to analyze a very large set of complex problems. This is the best time to apply the tool, to clarify the decisions. And solve the problems that will have the greatest impact on the organization.

Process prioritization

An organization’s processes must always be clear and objective. However, keeping them up to date and organized is a big challenge.

Poorly reasoned decisions can ignore improvements that would bring more results for the company or even extend losses to avoid.

Thus, applying the GUT Matrix can guide this work, clarifying the importance of each process and guiding the work systemically and assertively.

Risk prioritization

Regardless of the risk analysis approach chosen by the company, at the end of this process,  you will generate a list of risks and actions for the negotiation.

You can apply the GUT Matrix in this scenario. At the end of the application of the tool, it will be possible to see in an orderly way which risks are more serious and need work on first, directing the treatment efforts.

Prioritization of Non-Conformities

Some organizations face situations in which the volume of non-compliance is very high, making it impossible to deal with them all at once.

What usually happens is the definition of some criteria to, for example, deal first with non-conformities related to a customer’s complaint and then those related to process improvement.

However, even establishing these criteria, the number of occurrences can be high and complex to prioritize. Thus, the GUT Matrix is ​​a tool that can help make this decision.

How to assemble your GUT matrix?

1. List of problems

The first action to take in the GUT Analysis is to list the problems that need solutions in a certain activity, area, project, etc. At this stage, the SWOT Matrix can be very useful.

2. Definition of Severity, Urgency, and Trend (GUT)

For each problem listed in the GUT Table, give a score, remembering that less favorable situations receive a maximum score (5) and the most favorable ones receive a score of 1.

Therefore, if the problem is extremely serious, extremely urgent, and with a very high tendency to get worse over time.

3. G x U x T calculation and problem classification

With issues listed and grades assigned, it’s time to multiply the values ​​for each of the attributes: Severity, Urgency, and Trend.

The problem that gets the highest score on the GUT Table will have priority in solving as it will be more severe, urgent, and more likely to get worse.

4. Preparation of action plans

Generally, you create action plans in spreadsheets (electronic or even paper). They contain information such as objectives, actions, and persons responsible for their respective delivery dates.

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