As a product manager striving to boost user engagement for your company, you’ve likely found yourself in the midst of numerous ideas and strategies. These ideas range from introducing new features to giving your website a makeover.
But how do you navigate this sea of possibilities and decide which ideas deserve your immediate attention? That’s where the RICE scoring system and model come into play.
The RICE model is a fantastic tool for prioritizing your projects. It allows you to assign scores to potential initiatives based on four essential factors: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.
By incorporating RICE into your decision-making process, you can make more and better-informed decisions and choices, minimize the influence of massive impact of personal biases, and effectively communicate your priorities to other team members and stakeholders.
With RICE, you’re better equipped to make sound decisions, ensuring that your efforts have the most substantial impact on your product’s growth.
RICE prioritization is a strategic framework used in project management and product development. It helps teams evaluate and prioritize various initiatives, features, or tasks by considering four key factors: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.
These factors are assigned numerical scores, and the RICE formula calculates an overall score, which aids in determining the priority of each item.
RICE is a valuable prioritization framework in the field of Product Management, and it all started at Intercom.
The brainchild of this very prioritization framework is Sean McBide, a Product Manager at Intercom at that time. He and his peers created RICE to tackle several challenges faced by Product Managers.
One significant issue was that their previous prioritization method tended to favor “pet projects” rather than ideas that could have a more widespread impact on customers.
Additionally, there was a lack of scrutiny regarding how proposed project ideas were aligned with the company’s goals. Sean McBide, in his original article on RICE Prioritization, also highlighted that many existing prioritization frameworks rarely considered factors like confidence.
In response to these challenges, McBide and his colleagues decided to craft their prioritization framework, giving birth to the RICE Prioritization model.
This framework revolves around four key criteria: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, neatly forming the acronym RICE.
In practice, each of these attributes is assigned a numerical value, resulting in score measures. These numbers are then combined to calculate the final score, the RICE Score, providing a clear picture of each initiative’s priority.
From its inception at Intercom, the RICE framework has gained popularity and is now one of the most widely used prioritization methods in Product Management.
In a survey conducted by ProdPlan in 2020, it was found that RICE ranks as the fifth most utilized prioritization framework, a testament to its effectiveness and wide adoption within the industry.
The RICE Score Framework offers several advantages for prioritizing tasks, making it a valuable tool for teams.
First and foremost, it introduces a systematic and data-driven approach to evaluating various initiatives.
By assessing attributes like Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, teams can make well-informed decisions about the allocation of their valuable time and resources.
This method ensures that teams do not end up investing in low-impact initiatives that demand a considerable amount of effort.
Furthermore, the RICE Score Framework enhances the efficiency of task prioritization. Effective prioritization is essential for teams managing multiple concurrent initiatives.
With the RICE Score Framework, teams can steer clear of becoming entangled in low-priority tasks and instead concentrate their efforts on initiatives that promise the most significant impact on the business.
This efficient approach to prioritization fosters productivity and ensures that teams concentrate on high-value activities, making it easier for them to stay on track with their tasks and achieve their goals.
By incorporating the TimeTracks Time Tracking tool, teams can further enhance their task management and stay organized.
REACH X IMPACT X CONFIDENCE/ EFFORT X100
Let’s take a closer look at each:
In the RICE framework, the first factor we consider is “reach.” Reach is all about estimating how many individuals your idea or initiative will impact within a specified timeframe.
Understanding reach is pivotal because it safeguards against the tendency to focus on projects that cater to a vocal minority of users. These vocal users might not accurately represent the broader user base.
When gauging a feature idea, it’s important to ask yourself, “How many users or customers should be anticipated that will be affected by this within a defined time frame?”
It’s crucial to establish a consistent enough period. For instance, you might assess how many users your idea will influence in the upcoming month or possibly over the next quarter.
Once you’ve established the timeframe, the next step is quantifying this reach. This involves translating user numbers into concrete quantities.
For a practical example, let’s assume your product has 7,000 monthly active users (MAUs).
If you believe your idea will influence approximately 60 percent of them over the course of a month, your reach figure would amount to 4,200 users.
If you’re looking at this over a quarter, the calculation would be 4,200 users per person-months multiplied by 3 months, giving you a total of 12,600 users per person month.
The concept of “impact” is best understood in the context of a larger goal or key objective, such as one project, such as “increase conversion rates by 10 percent.”
In assessing impact, it’s essential to ask yourself, “How will this initiative affect individual users?” For example, when considering conversion rates, you should determine the extent of the impact and by how much.
The original formula developed by Sean McBride at Intercom used a scaling system ranging from 0 to 3 to measure impact:
However, it’s worth noting that you have the flexibility to establish your own scale. There are scales that use values from 1 to 5 or even 1 to 10, and occasionally custom scales like:
The key is to define a scale that suits your needs, but it must remain quantifiable. For instance, you cannot employ non-quantifiable measures like T-shirt sizes (S, M, L).
Confidence plays a crucial role in the RICE framework, and it’s a dimension that should arguably be a part of all prioritization frameworks.
The nature of product work is inherently uncertain, and factoring in confidence allows us to acknowledge and address this uncertainty when making prioritization decisions.
When evaluating increase confidence, you should ask yourself, “How confident you are about this idea? How sure are you about the reach and impact of increase confidence scores assigned to pet ideas?”
You can break down confidence into categories four factors such as:
However, you aren’t limited to this specific scale.
There are scales often used calculating confidence in, such as 25% intervals (25 %, 50 %, 75 %, 100 %) or even 10 % intervals (10 %, 20 %, 30%, and so on) for assessing confidence.
Because confidence is expressed as a percentage, it acts as a counterbalance to lower confidence scores.
For instance, if you’ve assigned high scores for reach and impact but have low confidence, it reflects your uncertainty about whether the idea will truly achieve the expected impact or reach the intended number of users.
Confidence plays a pivotal role in recalibrating the the final score and RICE score accordingly. Moreover, confidence serves as a catalyst for fostering a culture of discovery and ensuring that decisions are rooted in data and insights.
When assigning a confidence score, you should consider, “How much data or supporting evidence is needed to substantiate this idea and the scores assigned?”
For instance, if your reach scores are based on findings from user research on the extent of the problem’s impact, and you’ve conducted user testing that validates the solution, you may confidently assign a high confidence rating.
This high degree of confidence is underpinned by tangible evidence and data.
Conversely, if you have an idea that relies on rough estimates with minimal supporting data or research, it’s challenging to argue for anything beyond a low confidence rating.
It’s important to note that the confidence rating isn’t set in stone; it can prompt further questions, such as, “How can we enhance our confidence in this idea?” This may lead to additional discovery efforts, ultimately resulting in an increased confidence rating (as well as potential adjustments to reach and impact scores).
The final piece of the RICE scoring system puzzle is the assessment of effort. Effort comes into play to ensure that the potential benefits of an idea significantly outweigh the costs involved.
When evaluating effort, the key consideration is the amount of the effort estimates and the period required to complete the initiative.
Effort can be quantified in person hours, or it can be expressed in terms of days, weeks, sprints, or any relevant time unit for your team.
For instance, let’s say you estimate that a particular project idea would necessitate a team of 5 individuals working for two weeks to complete it. In person-weeks, this would translate to 5 x 2, equating to one team member every 10 person-weeks.
Effort estimation isn’t intended to be an exact science. It’s an estimate, and you need not obsess over obtaining precise figures or invest an extensive amount of time in soliciting estimates from your other team member.
Effort assessment is an important aspect of the RICE model because it ensures that you’re not just focusing on the potential reach and impact but also considering the feasibility of execution.
It helps in gauging whether the resources and time required for the project idea align with the expected benefits.
In essence, by factoring in effort alongside reach, impact, and confidence, the RICE framework provides a more comprehensive view of the potential impact of an idea while promoting balanced decision-making.
This multifaceted approach allows you to prioritize ideas effectively and make informed choices about where to allocate your resources and efforts.
Once you have the individual scores for reach, impact, confidence, and effort for each idea, calculating a RICE score is a straightforward process.
The RICE model combines the impact confidence effort scores for these four factors to provide a comprehensive prioritization score.
The RICE formula is expressed as:
To leverage the RICE model effectively, follow these steps:
It’s crucial to understand that your RICE score serves as an input to your prioritization process. The final decisions still require your judgment. When evaluating ideas with similar RICE scores, consider other factors that could influence your priorities.
For instance, suppose the top two ideas have RICE scores that are only slightly different.
Upon closer examination, you discover that the idea with the highest score has a low confidence rating (50 %), while the second-highest idea has a much more robust confidence rating (80 %).
In this scenario, it would be prudent to prioritize the idea with the second-highest RICE score. You might also explore avenues to bolster the confidence of the scores associated with the top idea.
Now, consider another scenario where there is a small difference in RICE scores but a significant contrast in effort required for implementation.
Depending on the size of this effort gap, it may make sense to prioritize the idea with the lower effort, even if it has a slightly lower RICE score.
The versatility of rice scoring model in the RICE Score Framework allows it to be applied consistently to a wide array of initiatives. Let’s explore a few examples to see how this scoring method can help in decision-making:
Product managers frequently employ the RICE framework to prioritize new product features.
For instance, consider two proposed features – Feature A and Feature B. Feature A could potentially impact 100,000 users (Reach 7), have a high impact on user experience (Impact 9), but requires significant effort (Effort 8).
However, there is uncertainty about its success (Confidence 5). Feature B, on the other hand, might only reach 10,000 users (Reach 4), have a moderate impact (Impact 6), but demands fewer resources (Effort 4) and is backed by high confidence (Confidence 9).
By applying the RICE Score Framework, it becomes evident that Feature B should take precedence due to its higher Confidence score and lower Effort score, despite its lower Reach score and Impact scores.
In the context of developing new products, a team must decide between Product A and Product B.
Product A could significantly boost company revenue (Impact 9) and reach a broad audience (Reach 8), but it requires substantial effort (Effort 7) and faces medium confidence (Confidence 6). Product B, while having a moderate impact on revenue (Impact 6) and a smaller reach (Reach 3), requires less effort (Effort 4) and enjoys high confidence (Confidence 9).
Applying the RICE Score Formula reveals that Product A has a higher score (55.71) compared to Product B single score (40.5), indicating that Product A is the more critical project despite its higher Effort score.
To further enhance the decision-making and management processes, teams can incorporate the TimeTracks Project Controlling tool. This tool aids in efficient time management and control, ensuring that projects like Product A are executed seamlessly, making the most of the available resources and time.
A marketing team is deliberating between launching a social media campaign, an email marketing campaign, and an influencer marketing campaign. Using the RICE score framework, they compare these options.
The social media campaign has a potential reach of 10,000 customers and an impact score of 5 out of 10. The email marketing campaign boasts an impact score of 8 out of 10 and the potential to reach 5,000 customers.
Meanwhile, the influencer marketing campaign has an impact score of 9 out of 10 and could reach 2,500 customers.
In terms of confidence, social media scores 7 out of 10, email marketing 9 out of 10, and influencer efforts 8 out of 10.
As for effort ratings, they are 3 out of 10 for social media, 6 out of 10 for email marketing, and 8 out of 10 for influencer marketing.
By calculating the RICE score using the RICE Score Formula, the social media campaign emerges as the top priority, followed by email marketing and then influencer marketing.
Keep in mind that the ultimate RICE score isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for perfect prioritization. Instead, view the RICE framework as a valuable piece of your prioritization puzzle, an essential input. This means it’s up to you to dive into the data and thoroughly evaluate the results.
Being a digital marketer, I have been working with different clients and following strict deadlines. For me, learning the skill of time management and tracking was crucial for juggling between tasks and completing them. So, writing about time management and monitoring helps me add my flavor to the knowledge pool. I also learned a few things, which I am excited to share with all of you.