Improvement tools: Eight criteria technique

Page last updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2017 - 11:58am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Eight criteria technique is used to compare different options for achieving a goal. It also highlights issues that need to be managed when implementing the selected option.

The tool uses these eight criteria: expected benefit, expected cost, the cost of not implementing the option, risk, ease of implementation, motivation, time needed for implementation, and the term to payoff.

The eight criteria are described in more detail below.

Expected benefit

  • This is the value that is expected from implementing the option. It can be economic, environmental, social or personal value.

Cost of not implementing the option

  • Sometimes there are negative consequences from not doing something. For example, if you do not maintain your car, sooner or later it will break down and you could be stranded or the repairs could be more expensive than having the car serviced regularly.

Ease of implementation

  • Will it be easy or difficult to implement the option? This could depend on the number of people involved, the complexity of the operations and the level of skills needed.


  • This is the level of enthusiasm, energy or urgency to make things happen.

Expected cost

  • This is the financial cost of staff, materials, equipment and other resources. It could also include environmental and social costs.


  • This is the likelihood that something will go wrong and impact on the results being achieved.

Time needed for implementation

  • This is the amount of time it will take for the option to be fully implemented. For example, ten days or one year.

Term to payoff

  • This is the length of time between starting to implement the option and starting to achieve the results. Sometimes there is a long delay between when investments are made and when you get the benefits.

These eight criteria fall into two categories. The positive criteria include expected benefit, cost of not implementing the option, ease of implementation and motivation.

The negative criteria include expected cost, risk, time needed for implementation and term to payoff. Options are scored for each criteria.

A good option will have high scores for the positive criteria and lower scores for the negative criteria, like in the table below.

Good option

Positive criteria Score Negative criteria Score
Benefit High Cost Low
Cost of not implementing High Risk Low
Ease High Time Low
Motivation High Term Low

A poor option will have low scores for the positive criteria and high scores for the negative criteria, like in the table below.

Poor option

 Positive criteria Score Negative criteria Score
Benefit Low Cost High
Cost of not implementing Low Risk High
Ease Low Time High
Motivation Low Term High

The easiest way to understand how to use the Eight criteria technique is to see the steps of how to use the tool along with an example. The example is provided after the steps.


  1. Write the goal at the top of a scoresheet (see the example and the worksheets in the 'Documents' section on the far right).
  2. Write the options that you want to compare in the spaces provided on the scoresheet below the goal.
  3. Score option 1 for each of the eight criteria. Score from 1 to 10, for example 1 = low, 5 = medium and 10 = high.
  4. Write the scores in the impact and influence columns under option 1.
  5. Add the scores for the criteria in the first column (expected benefit, cost of not implementing, ease of implementation, motivation) and write the score in the total box.
  6. Add the scores in the second column (expected cost, risk, time needed for implementation, term to payoff) and write the score in the total box.
  7. Score option 2 for each of the eight criteria and write the scores in the boxes.
  8. For option 2, total the scores for each of the columns and write them in the total boxes.

Example: Beef business

This example is based on a hypothetical beef enterprise in sub-tropical Australia.

Goal: To achieve a 5% improvement in the profit of our beef enterprise per year.

Option 1: Improve average annual growth rate from 120kg/head to 190kg/head within 3 years.

Positive criteria Score Negative criteria Score
Benefit    9 Cost    6
Cost of not implementing    9 Risk    3
Ease    8 Time    4
Motivation    9 Term    5
Total                                          35 Total                         18

Option 2: Improve calving percentage from 75% to 85% within 3 years.

Positive criteria Score Negative criteria Score
Benefit 9 Cost 6
Cost of not implementing 7 Risk 6
Ease 6 Time 8
Motivation 8 Term 7
Total 30 Total 27

Understanding the results

In the example above, the benefit and cost scores are similar in both options, however option 1 is the better choice for two reasons. Option 1 has a higher total score on the positive criteria (score of 35) than option 2 (score of 30). Option 1 has a lower total score on the negative criteria (score of 18) than option 2 (score of 27).

If resources were available it is possible that option 2 would also be implemented because of the high expected benefit. Doing Eight criteria assessment highlights things that need to be managed when implementing the option, such as risk.

Other tools to use with the Eight criteria technique

The Eight criteria technique can be used in step 3 of the CI&I - Continuous improvement and innovation process.

If you have a lot of options to choose from, use the Impact and influence tool first to quickly identify the higher priority options. Then use the Eight criteria technique to make comparisons between the higher priority options. Gross margin analysis can help with assessing the benefits and costs of different options.

After you have selected options using Eight criteria, you can use the Action design tool or Five Ws and one H to plan implementation.

You may want to use tools such as gross margin analysis or cost benefit analysis to help with your assessments.

Support to use the tool

Please contact us if you would like help to use the Eight criteria technique.

A worksheet to help you use the tool can be found in the 'Documents' section on the far right.