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Paired Ranking

Paired Ranking is a technique to enable a group of people to assess multiple items in ranked order on the basis of one criteria.


If a group of employees was asked the following question, they would all come up with a different order and there would be no way of rationalizing their differing opinions.

Place the following projects in order of their importance to the marketing department:

  • Upgrading the company website
  • Developing new marketing materials
  • Achieving ISO 9001 accreditation for company
  • Migrating existing customers to enhanced products
  • Launching upgrade product line
  • Performing primary customer research
  • Developing new overseas markets
  • Running TV advertising campaign

The paired ranking concept asks a group to vote on only two items at a time, stating their preference based on the selected criteria. The system continues to ask the group to vote for a preference on pairs of items until a ranked order for the entire list can be created. The software has the capability to omit unnecessary questions in order to expedite the process.

For example, if Tom is taller than Dick, and Dick is taller than Sally, then there is no need to ask if Tom is taller than Sally.

For the example about the marketing projects, the question would be re-phrased along the lines of:

To determine a ranking of importance of marketing projects, is:

  • Developing new marketing materials

    More important than

  • Launching an upgraded product Line

(Vote Y or N)

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