Use the C&E Matrix to quantitatively evaluate a set of Xs (inputs) against a set of Ys (outputs) to determine their likely relationships. This investigation frequently minimizes the need for more expensive statistical evaluation of inputs that are unlikely to have an impact on the output. A C&E matrix is also called a cause-and-effect matrix or an X-Y matrix.

Answers the questions:
  • What are the quantitative relationships between inputs (causes) and outputs (effects)?
  • Which inputs are likely to have an effect on the desired process improvement?
When to Use Purpose
Pre-project Assist in project selection by focusing on areas of a process that have greater potential for improvement; showing links between process inputs and outputs.
Start of project Assist in project scoping by focusing on the areas of the process that have greatest potential for improvement.
Mid-project May be used to help identify potential inputs (Xs).
Mid-project Screen inputs to identify likely vital Xs (primary use).


This form has no data requirements because you use it only to collect and organize data.


  • A C&E matrix is a very flexible tool. For example, it provides the structure behind the project prioritization matrix.
  • A C&E matrix is heavily used in the initial evaluation of potential Xs, especially in transactional or business projects.
  • A C&E matrix is frequently used in process-improvement projects (for example, Six Sigma and DMAIC projects) to evaluate the net impact of potential Xs versus various Ys or goals in order to make a first pass at setting aside potential Xs that are not likely to impact the Ys. This step eliminates the need for more expensive statistical evaluation.
    • Example 1: The Xs of drill sharpness, drill-bit angle, and drill revolutions per minute (RPM) could be evaluated against the Y values of hole location, hole straightness, and hole surface finish.
    • Example 2: The Xs of location of loan application, value of loan requested, day of week, and time of day could be evaluated against the Y values of cycle time, accuracy, and approval rate.


  1. Develop a list of all the Xs (inputs) you want to evaluate.
  2. Develop a list of Ys (outputs) that are important to your project or activity.
  3. Enter the inputs down the left side of the matrix and the outputs across the top of it.
  4. Apply a weighting factor to all the outputs. Typically, you use a 1-to-9 scale for weighting the contributions of the outputs. For example, hole location is critical so you set it to 9; however, surface finish is not as critical, so you set it to 4.
  5. Using team consensus and the following scale to rate the impact of each input on each output:
    • 0 = No impact
    • 1 = Little impact
    • 3 = Moderate impact
    • 9 = Strong impact
  6. Review the calculated results in the table and in the Input Effect Pareto chart. Inputs that have the highest values have the greatest impact on the output.

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