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    Thread: "What Car Do I Buy?" Answering your question with Grid Analysis!

    1. #1
      Gears in head!!!
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      rksingh1's Avatar
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      Feb 2012
      Chennai, Tamilnadu
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      "What Car Do I Buy?" Answering your question with Grid Analysis!

      According to a study, when it comes to decision making, most of us listen to our heart and go by it. I tend to agree with it. When it comes to which phone to pick Ė we normally go with the one that has stolen our heart. The decisions done by heart are more likely to remain intact as we have personal liking for it.

      This method is not going to work all the time though. Not for everyone for sure. Some critical decisions ask for a calculative approach than a simple ďoh-man-this-is-awesome-lets-do-itĒ method. Here in this thread, I am going to talk about decisions that are done systematically and based on logic to ensure we reach to a better decision. By taking an organized method, you're less likely to miss important factors, and you can build on the approach to make your decisions better and better.

      There are number of decision making tools, however the approach we are going to talk about is called Grid Analysis. Some of you who have been to decision making sessions / training would have heard about it. Here, weíll see it with some relevance and understand how this method can be applied to various things here at Gearheads.

      Grid Analysis

      Grid Analysis is a useful technique to use for making an effective decision. It's particularly powerful where you have a number of good options to choose from, and many different parameters to take into account. This makes it a great technique to use in almost any important decision where there isn't a clear and obvious preferred option.

      Grid Analysis works by getting you to list your options as rows on a table, and the factors you need consider as columns. You then score each option/factor combination, weight this score by the relative importance of the parameter, and add these scores up to give an overall score for each option. This may sound little complicated, but itís actually very easy.

      Well, enough of preaching. Letís get into business now. Itíll be clearer if I take help of an example.


      Its going to be a very raw example, but letís hope it brings some sort of sense to what I am trying to explain. A long travel enthusiast is about to replace his car. He needs one that not only cruises comfortably for long drives, but also one that will be good for short business travels. He has always loved open-topped sports cars, but no car he can find is good for all the things.

      After much work, he came up with below option :

      1. An SUV/4x4, hard topped vehicle.
      2. A comfortable "'family car."
      3. A station wagon/estate car.
      4. A convertible sports car.

      Factors that he wants to consider are:

      • Cost.
      • Mileage efficiency.
      • Good storage space for long drives
      • Comfort over long distances.
      • Fun!
      • Look, and build quality.

      Now when we have understood the options and parameters, lets try and build the grid chart for it. Steps for building the chart are:

      1. List all of your options as the row labels on the table, and list the factors that you need to consider as the column headings. We can swap them if required in the table. Idea is to create a grid with options and parameters
      2. Next, work your way down the columns of your table, scoring each option for each of the factors in your decision. Score each option from 0 (poor) to 5 (very good). Note that you do not have to have a different score for each option - if none of them are good for a particular factor in your decision, then all options should score 0.
      3. The next step is to work out the relative importance of the factors in your decision. Show these as numbers from, say, 0 to 5, where 0 means that the factor is absolutely unimportant in the final decision, and 5 means that it is very important. (It's perfectly acceptable to have factors with the same importance.)
      4. Now multiply each of your scores from step 2 by the values for relative importance of the factor that you calculated in step 3. This will give you weighted scores for each option/factor combination.
      5. Finally, add up these weighted scores for each of your options. The option that scores the highest wins!

      Letís build this grid for our fictional person now: [Post step 2, weíll get this grid]

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      So our fictional buyer created this grid with the options he had. He thinks that Sports car will look great but wonít have any storage space. SUV will have good storage space but will be costly. Family Car will be cost effective to buy but may not be very comfortable for long run. Well, letís respect his choices and options and assume that after much deliberation, he finalized the grid above.

      Now next step is to prioritize your parameters. Is looks of the car more important to you than storage of it? So depending upon which feature is more crucial and critical, you need to rate the parameters with 0 being least important and 5 being the most critical one. After the work, letís assume that below is how it worked out for our fictional buyer:

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      So he is giving priority to Comfort during long drives and storage to cost and looks. He is rich, so cost is not an important factor at all and he can compromise on looks and mileage if need be, but Storage space and comfort over long drives and very critical for him.
      Letís use their weights in the grid and see what happens:

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      So as per the Grid Analysis, and the parameters defined, SUV is coming as the recommended car for him (with 51 points), followed by Family Car and then Station Wagon. Sports car is least recommended option.

      This is, as I already have mentioned is very raw example to illustrate how this work. I hope with the help of this example, we managed to catch the essence of this Grid analysis and its usefulness in decision making process. If we manage to identify the critical parameters and their criticality, then this tool can really help us answer some queries around decision making process. One point to remember, we can switch the rows and columns, however, it will not change the way we are capturing and displaying the information.

      I have gone ahead and defined the excel sheet for some of the common questions that we keep hearing on gearheads. To start with, Iíll do it for cars in the next post. Iíll start working on other similar situations in future and upload them in respective threads.

      Questions / comments / feedbacks are whole heartedly welcomed!

    2. #2
      Gears in head!!!
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      rksingh1's Avatar
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      Applying Grid Analysis to help picking the right car from options!!

      In this post, weíll look at decision making parameters while buying a car. The requirements vary from person to person, and if we can jot down a comprehensive list, then itíll enable us to capture the requirement of every buyer out there. With little search on Gearheads, I managed to find the below list of parameters. Let go through them and see how we should score them.

      Weíll make the same grid. Remember, all the scoring to happen from 0 to 5 with 0 being the least and 5 being the highest.

      • Cost : Cost of the vehicle always plays a vital role while deciding which car to pick. If it is very critical, pls assign a higher weightage point to it at the last column. If the car price is closure to affordable range of user, give it a higher value. If the car price is not within the range, you can accordingly decrease the value with least affordable car can be rated as zero.

      • Handling : If the handling of the car is good, give it a higher number. Subsequently decrease if the handling is coming down.

      • Exterior Looks : Higher point for better exterior looks. Low if you donít like it.

      • Interior Looks : Points for interiors of the car. Give higher value if it is good, lower if it not up to your mark. Normally for Indian buyer, interior looks arenít of high importance, thus typically the weightage for it is in the range or 1 to 3.

      • Mileage : Give the rating dependent upon user understanding of the mileage of the car. Higher mileage, higher points.

      • Power : BHP, Torque, displacement, peppy engine etc., everything is getting captured here. You can form your own judgment of how you should rate it. Remember, give higher points to the car whose power is up to your requirements.

      • Maintenance Cost : Car with higher maintenance cost should get lower point here. You are free to rate it in any ratio you feel comfortable with.

      • Fuel Option : Diesel / Petrol / CNG / LPG etc. Higher points if your preferred fuel option is available.

      • Brakes and Suspension : How comfortable you are with the brakes and suspension of the car. Higher point if they are good, lower if they arenít meeting your expectation.

      • Safety : EBS / ABS / Child Lock / Air bags or any other safety feature which you are looking for. Give proper weightage to ensure it highlights your priority in this.

      • Color Options : Higher points if desired or better color options are available.

      • Space : Interior space of the car with boot. Can it seat 5 people? Does it have enough boot? How is the leg room? Score accordingly.

      • A. S. S. : Serviceability of the car. Higher if it is better. Give proper weightage to highlight its priority for you.

      • Others : Any other important thing that is not mentioned here, you can assume it to be here. If there is nothing, you can skip this like and leave it blank.

      • Heart Says: This is the overall thing Ė basically asking you of your personal preference. See if you can quantify this. Iíd suggest to go with 2 or 3 weightage with this to ensure it doesnít dominate other calculations

      This is how the grid for car purchase decision making is looking like:

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      Youíll notice that I have reversed the column and row entries Ė that is absolutely fine till we follow the method of Grid Analysis. Car options at the top is the place where youíll need to put your own option from many that youíd have at your disposal. Youíll need to feed in numbers for each car option and its respective parameter. The weightage is something that youíll need to fill as well.

      Once youíve completed the exercise, look at the total numbers and the option with highest number is your car. Numbers at "Total" will get automatically calculated based on formula and your input. You need not to do anything with value at "Total".

      I am going to upload the excel file with this post for you to download and use it. Do let me know if there are any tweaks required in the file and anything needs to be added / removed from the list of parameters.

      Remember, more the better. If any parameter is not applicable to a user, he can just ignore it by giving a zero weightage point Ė indicating itís not at all important for him.

      Hope this is of some use to you!

      What Car to Buy - Grid.xlsx

    3. #3
      No Commerce, Just Fun
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      May 2012
      Hi rksingh1.

      That is a wonderful and simple tool and process for making any complex decision. I have often tried to use such method for decision making. It does not work under following circumstances.

      1. When we have already made a decision and try to justify it using the tool
      2. Boss at Home have already liked a car and has declared it as mera wala car.

      But large acquisitions viz Home, Car, Land etc are never a rational decisions. one can not take away the possibility of heart ruling over the head.
      Last edited by Nomad; 1st Apr 2013 at 07:23. Reason: correcting spelling error

    4. #4

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      Thanks for putting this up. I did a similar exercise almost two years back when I was trying to decide which sedan - the second part, not the first one. I have a spreadsheet somewhere - let me fish it out.
      Nomad has a very very valid point though - many a times it's a decision by the heart, and then the head tries to justify it.

    5. #5
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      Thats a very nice analysis, Ravi

      Will definitely try to make more of my non-forum friends use this to help them with their car buying decisions. Sometimes it's tough to explain to them!
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