Product Management

RICE Scoring Model: Your User-friendly Prioritization Framework

By
Ewell Torphy
.
8 min

There are multiple ideas. But which one should you start working on first?

When building a product roadmap, prioritization is a challenge for product managers and development teams.

Lack of information, relevant metrics, intuitive and emotional decision-making are a few of the challenges faced during prioritization.

But prioritization tools or frameworks like RICE (stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort) can help you make informed prioritization decisions.

To know what RICE score is and how you can use the RICE formula for product management, then stay tuned!

What is the RICE Scoring Prioritization Model?

The RICE scoring method is a simple prioritization framework that helps product managers to determine the order of priority for ideas, features and other initiatives when including them in the product roadmap.

The method is used by product management teams for prioritizing backlogs when creating product roadmaps. It encourages the development teams to make data-driven decisions.

Further, the RICE scoring method also helps the product development teams to focus on the main tasks of product management, maintaining transparency, and boosting motivation. 

Using the RICE model can help you solve prioritization-related issues such as;

  • It allows assessing feature ideas, product updates, enhancements, and projects for better prioritization.
  • It keeps estimations out and encourages informed prioritization decision-making based on relevant data.
  • It helps reduce personal biases in decision-making. A RICE score informs stakeholders about the several factors considered for making the product decisions.
  • Also, the model helps in evaluating the right metrics. It enables product teams to reassess the metrics that define business success.

How Does the RICE Model Work?

The RICE scoring method is based on four factors – Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.

RICE Scoring Technique

To use the model, you must assess each new product idea, feature, or modification by scoring them against each of the above-mentioned factors.

Here’s how you can use the RICE prioritization formula.

1. Reach

Reach refers to the estimated number of people your idea or initiative will reach in a specific timeframe. It is the first factor to determine your RICE score.

Here, you must decide what reach specifically means in your business context. It may refer to the number of registrations, free-trial signups, number of sales made or transactions, or even the number of existing customers trying the new product feature.

Also, you must pick a timeframe to measure the reach of your product initiative. It may be one month, six months, a quarter, etc.

For instance, you estimate that your product initiative will result in 100 new customers within a month. Then, your reach score will be 100.

Again, suppose you estimate that your initiative will generate 1500 prospects within the next quarter. And 35% of new prospects will sign-up for the free trial. Then your reach score would be 35% of 1500, that is, 525 per quarter.

2. Impact

The next determining factor of the RICE matrix is impact. The impact is challenging to measure accurately as it can reflect a qualitative or a quantitative metric.

For instance, the quantitative goal for a project could be the number of conversions. On the other hand, a project could also have a qualitative objective like maximizing customer satisfaction.

Even when you measure impact using a quantitative metric (like the number of conversions or sales) it would be quite difficult. It is because you can never be sure that the new product initiative has led to an increase in sales or conversions.

Due to the lack of precision in measuring impact, you can use a multiple-choice scale for its estimation like;

  • 3 = Major Impact
  • 2 = High Impact
  • 1 = Medium Impact
  • 0.5 = Low Impact
  • 0.25 = Minimum Impact
  • Similarly, you can create a standardized scale to measure your project’s impact.

For example, take a new product feature initiative.

What is the likelihood of the new feature converting prospects into long-term customers?

If you think that the likelihood of conversion is massive, the impact score would be 3.

Similarly, if the impact is high, the score would be 2, and so on.

3. Confidence

This RICE score metric lets you curb the enthusiasm for gripping but vague and ill-defined ideas. It keeps in check the level of confidence in your estimates.

Suppose you assume that a product initiative can make a significant impact.

But do not have relevant data to back up the estimate.

Here, confidence helps you control it.

Confidence is calculated as a percentage. So, to avoid discrepancies in decision-making, most product teams use a multiple-choice scale. For instance;

  • 100% = High Confidence
  • 80% = Medium Confidence
  • 50% = Low Confidence
  • Below 50% = No Confidence

Example:

You may be 100% confident about a new feature because 100% of the customers have successfully used the feature. Further, you may have 80% confidence in an idea because you did not consider the cost factor in your estimations. Again, you may also have 50% or below confidence in an idea because you aren’t sure about the customer issue that it addresses.

4. Effort

To understand the effort factor, consider the RICE model as a cost-benefit analysis. The three factors (reach, impact, and confidence) are potential benefits while effort represents costs.

You can quantify effort in the same way as scoring reach. Simply estimate the total resources (like product design, testing, engineering, etc.) required to complete an initiative within a limited timeframe.

Now, ‘person-months’- the work that a team member can perform within a month- will be your score.

Example – A project will take 7 days of planning, 2 weeks of design, and 3 weeks of engineering. You give it an effort score of 2 person-months.

While the other RICE model factors are positive, effort is not. If the effort is more, it isn’t good news. Hence, it divides the total impact of the project.

How to Calculate RICE Scoring?

After you estimate the four factors of the RICE model, here’s the simple RICE prioritization formula to calculate the score.

Reach x Impact x Confidence / Effort = RICE Score

The RICE Score measures the total impact of the project per time worked.

Consider this RICE prioritization example.

Suppose you have received three product feature requests. Using the RICE scoring method, you can identify the order of priority.

Feature 1

Reach = 500

Impact = 3

Confidence = 100%

Effort = 2

RICE Score = 750

Feature 2

Reach = 1500

Impact = 2

Confidence = 80%

Effort = 4

RICE Score = 600

Feature 3

Reach = 700

Impact = 1

Confidence = 50%

Effort = 1

RICE Score = 350

Now that you’ve got the RICE scores. Prioritize the features based on the highest score. Here, the order of priority would be features 1, 2, and 3.

How To Use RICE Score Effectively?

While the RICE scoring method makes prioritization structured and effective, there’s no hard and fast rule for using the RICE scores.

There are several reasons why you may choose to start working on a product feature with a low RICE score first. The feature may be a must to sell the product to certain customers. Also, there may be dependencies of one project on another.

With a prioritization framework like the RICE model, you can always determine when to consider these trade-offs in your projects.

The bottom line is that you may use the RICE matrix when starting your prioritization journey. You can make better decisions, resulting in some quick wins. The RICE model also saves brainstorming time and enables prompt decision-making.

Here are a few best practices to use the RICE method effectively.

  • Focus on a single goal. Narrow down your goals list and identify the most important goal to work on within the considered timeframe. Once you have made sufficient progress, jump to the next goal.
  • Give the freedom to make decisions. Let your team members decide which project to pick up first even if you are using RICE scores. Don’t make the prioritization tool dictate every decision without any thought.
  • Set sub-goals for team organization. When you have a larger team, make sub-teams. Let each of the sub-teams focus on a different goal. This way you can motivate the team members by setting a clear goal.

However, you may consider not using the RICE scoring method over time. When the project is a complex one, RICE may not be enough. It makes you focus on a single objective. Hence, when you have other goals involved, then complement RICE with other frameworks.

Pros and Cons of Using RICE Scoring Model Over Other Prioritization Techniques

For a better understanding of the RICE model, here are its pros and cons.

Pros

  • The RICE scoring method is easy-to-use. No technical knowledge is needed to understand the tool.
  • The RICE scores can be used as input for product roadmap planning. It will clarify the prioritization order and enable quick decision-making.
  • The framework helps teams to understand user goals and impact when using a new product or product feature.
  • The model allows you to set realistic and SMART goals after calculating your RICE score. It will help in improving efficiency.

Cons

  • The RICE model may not be a good fit for complex projects with too many goals and a smaller team. You may need other prioritization frameworks along with RICE.
  • The RICE estimations – reach, impact, confidence, effort - may be inaccurate. Hence, the quantification of features may also lack accuracy.
  • RICE does not consider the dependencies of the product teams or projects. You may need to complete a low RICE score task before working on a high RICE score task.

Try Out the RICE Model with Zeda.io

With Zeda.io, you can create well-planned live product roadmaps containing ideas and feature requests related to real customer needs.

The good news is that you can share these product roadmaps with your team, other stakeholders, customers, etc. They can be easily updated and customized as per requirement.

But before making product decisions, prioritization is a must.

Decide what to do and their order of completion with the RICE prioritization formula.

Product Management

RICE Scoring Model: Your User-friendly Prioritization Framework

RICE scoring method is a simple prioritization framework that helps product managers to determine the order of priority for ideas, features and other initiatives when including them in the product roadmap.
Ewell Torphy
8 min

There are multiple ideas. But which one should you start working on first?

When building a product roadmap, prioritization is a challenge for product managers and development teams.

Lack of information, relevant metrics, intuitive and emotional decision-making are a few of the challenges faced during prioritization.

But prioritization tools or frameworks like RICE (stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort) can help you make informed prioritization decisions.

To know what RICE score is and how you can use the RICE formula for product management, then stay tuned!

What is the RICE Scoring Prioritization Model?

The RICE scoring method is a simple prioritization framework that helps product managers to determine the order of priority for ideas, features and other initiatives when including them in the product roadmap.

The method is used by product management teams for prioritizing backlogs when creating product roadmaps. It encourages the development teams to make data-driven decisions.

Further, the RICE scoring method also helps the product development teams to focus on the main tasks of product management, maintaining transparency, and boosting motivation. 

Using the RICE model can help you solve prioritization-related issues such as;

  • It allows assessing feature ideas, product updates, enhancements, and projects for better prioritization.
  • It keeps estimations out and encourages informed prioritization decision-making based on relevant data.
  • It helps reduce personal biases in decision-making. A RICE score informs stakeholders about the several factors considered for making the product decisions.
  • Also, the model helps in evaluating the right metrics. It enables product teams to reassess the metrics that define business success.

How Does the RICE Model Work?

The RICE scoring method is based on four factors – Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.

RICE Scoring Technique

To use the model, you must assess each new product idea, feature, or modification by scoring them against each of the above-mentioned factors.

Here’s how you can use the RICE prioritization formula.

1. Reach

Reach refers to the estimated number of people your idea or initiative will reach in a specific timeframe. It is the first factor to determine your RICE score.

Here, you must decide what reach specifically means in your business context. It may refer to the number of registrations, free-trial signups, number of sales made or transactions, or even the number of existing customers trying the new product feature.

Also, you must pick a timeframe to measure the reach of your product initiative. It may be one month, six months, a quarter, etc.

For instance, you estimate that your product initiative will result in 100 new customers within a month. Then, your reach score will be 100.

Again, suppose you estimate that your initiative will generate 1500 prospects within the next quarter. And 35% of new prospects will sign-up for the free trial. Then your reach score would be 35% of 1500, that is, 525 per quarter.

2. Impact

The next determining factor of the RICE matrix is impact. The impact is challenging to measure accurately as it can reflect a qualitative or a quantitative metric.

For instance, the quantitative goal for a project could be the number of conversions. On the other hand, a project could also have a qualitative objective like maximizing customer satisfaction.

Even when you measure impact using a quantitative metric (like the number of conversions or sales) it would be quite difficult. It is because you can never be sure that the new product initiative has led to an increase in sales or conversions.

Due to the lack of precision in measuring impact, you can use a multiple-choice scale for its estimation like;

  • 3 = Major Impact
  • 2 = High Impact
  • 1 = Medium Impact
  • 0.5 = Low Impact
  • 0.25 = Minimum Impact
  • Similarly, you can create a standardized scale to measure your project’s impact.

For example, take a new product feature initiative.

What is the likelihood of the new feature converting prospects into long-term customers?

If you think that the likelihood of conversion is massive, the impact score would be 3.

Similarly, if the impact is high, the score would be 2, and so on.

3. Confidence

This RICE score metric lets you curb the enthusiasm for gripping but vague and ill-defined ideas. It keeps in check the level of confidence in your estimates.

Suppose you assume that a product initiative can make a significant impact.

But do not have relevant data to back up the estimate.

Here, confidence helps you control it.

Confidence is calculated as a percentage. So, to avoid discrepancies in decision-making, most product teams use a multiple-choice scale. For instance;

  • 100% = High Confidence
  • 80% = Medium Confidence
  • 50% = Low Confidence
  • Below 50% = No Confidence

Example:

You may be 100% confident about a new feature because 100% of the customers have successfully used the feature. Further, you may have 80% confidence in an idea because you did not consider the cost factor in your estimations. Again, you may also have 50% or below confidence in an idea because you aren’t sure about the customer issue that it addresses.

4. Effort

To understand the effort factor, consider the RICE model as a cost-benefit analysis. The three factors (reach, impact, and confidence) are potential benefits while effort represents costs.

You can quantify effort in the same way as scoring reach. Simply estimate the total resources (like product design, testing, engineering, etc.) required to complete an initiative within a limited timeframe.

Now, ‘person-months’- the work that a team member can perform within a month- will be your score.

Example – A project will take 7 days of planning, 2 weeks of design, and 3 weeks of engineering. You give it an effort score of 2 person-months.

While the other RICE model factors are positive, effort is not. If the effort is more, it isn’t good news. Hence, it divides the total impact of the project.

How to Calculate RICE Scoring?

After you estimate the four factors of the RICE model, here’s the simple RICE prioritization formula to calculate the score.

Reach x Impact x Confidence / Effort = RICE Score

The RICE Score measures the total impact of the project per time worked.

Consider this RICE prioritization example.

Suppose you have received three product feature requests. Using the RICE scoring method, you can identify the order of priority.

Feature 1

Reach = 500

Impact = 3

Confidence = 100%

Effort = 2

RICE Score = 750

Feature 2

Reach = 1500

Impact = 2

Confidence = 80%

Effort = 4

RICE Score = 600

Feature 3

Reach = 700

Impact = 1

Confidence = 50%

Effort = 1

RICE Score = 350

Now that you’ve got the RICE scores. Prioritize the features based on the highest score. Here, the order of priority would be features 1, 2, and 3.

How To Use RICE Score Effectively?

While the RICE scoring method makes prioritization structured and effective, there’s no hard and fast rule for using the RICE scores.

There are several reasons why you may choose to start working on a product feature with a low RICE score first. The feature may be a must to sell the product to certain customers. Also, there may be dependencies of one project on another.

With a prioritization framework like the RICE model, you can always determine when to consider these trade-offs in your projects.

The bottom line is that you may use the RICE matrix when starting your prioritization journey. You can make better decisions, resulting in some quick wins. The RICE model also saves brainstorming time and enables prompt decision-making.

Here are a few best practices to use the RICE method effectively.

  • Focus on a single goal. Narrow down your goals list and identify the most important goal to work on within the considered timeframe. Once you have made sufficient progress, jump to the next goal.
  • Give the freedom to make decisions. Let your team members decide which project to pick up first even if you are using RICE scores. Don’t make the prioritization tool dictate every decision without any thought.
  • Set sub-goals for team organization. When you have a larger team, make sub-teams. Let each of the sub-teams focus on a different goal. This way you can motivate the team members by setting a clear goal.

However, you may consider not using the RICE scoring method over time. When the project is a complex one, RICE may not be enough. It makes you focus on a single objective. Hence, when you have other goals involved, then complement RICE with other frameworks.

Pros and Cons of Using RICE Scoring Model Over Other Prioritization Techniques

For a better understanding of the RICE model, here are its pros and cons.

Pros

  • The RICE scoring method is easy-to-use. No technical knowledge is needed to understand the tool.
  • The RICE scores can be used as input for product roadmap planning. It will clarify the prioritization order and enable quick decision-making.
  • The framework helps teams to understand user goals and impact when using a new product or product feature.
  • The model allows you to set realistic and SMART goals after calculating your RICE score. It will help in improving efficiency.

Cons

  • The RICE model may not be a good fit for complex projects with too many goals and a smaller team. You may need other prioritization frameworks along with RICE.
  • The RICE estimations – reach, impact, confidence, effort - may be inaccurate. Hence, the quantification of features may also lack accuracy.
  • RICE does not consider the dependencies of the product teams or projects. You may need to complete a low RICE score task before working on a high RICE score task.

Try Out the RICE Model with Zeda.io

With Zeda.io, you can create well-planned live product roadmaps containing ideas and feature requests related to real customer needs.

The good news is that you can share these product roadmaps with your team, other stakeholders, customers, etc. They can be easily updated and customized as per requirement.

But before making product decisions, prioritization is a must.

Decide what to do and their order of completion with the RICE prioritization formula.

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