Step 5: Evaluate, Select, and Refine Alternative or Option

The process of analyzing and evaluating alternatives applies evaluation criteria to alternatives or options in a way that facilitates decision making. This may be a one-step or multi-step process, depending on the complexity of the alternatives and the decision. The evaluation process may include refining alternatives to develop the final alternative or option. A critical element in this step is the evaluation of all ideas using all previously established criteria.

Effective use of criteria in the evaluation and selection of alternatives applies the criteria at appropriate levels of the decision-making process. If the decision or the criteria are complex, the process may be iterative, applying a series of criteria at differing levels of detail. For example, a three-level process may use broad criteria to screen out unrealistic or unfeasible alternatives and apply more detailed evaluation criteria in subsequent evaluation steps. This helps to streamline the evaluation by focusing data collection and analysis on viable alternatives. Multi-level evaluation also provides an opportunity to refine options or alternatives to meet the desired goals or outcomes more effectively with a greater understanding of the alternative’s strengths and weaknesses in each criterion.

The Project Staff must clearly document how evaluation criteria are applied to all ideas to provide an easily accessible record of how each idea generated through brainstorming was evaluated and possibly modified.