RICE and Related Prioritization Methods

The RICE model enables Product Managers to assess competing ideas, scoring them in different dimensions and deriving a prioritization based on that. The key elements are:

  • Reach in the sense of how many customers are affected or new prospects will be won, just the plain number can be given here.
  • Impact is an assessment of how important a new feature is, so for example to what degree it will help win new customers or improve customer satisfaction. For the formula below, the impact can be expressed on a scale from 0.25 (minimal) to 3 (massive).
  • Confidence comes in to take uncertainty into account such that projects that are too risky are down-scoped. Confidence can be expressed on a percentage scale with 100% being absolutely sure.
  • Effort is an estimation of the resources required to build a feature, so most often person months.

With that data points, the RICE score can be computed according to the following formula:

RICE = Reach * Impact * Confidence / Effort

The key idea is that higher-scoring features shall be prioritized because they promise a bigger bang for the buck.

While useful to know, we recommend to handle with care for several reasons:

  • Both, impact as well as effort, are typically unknown or estimated at best.
  • Estimations of efforts, or sizing, are typically not comparable across teams.

Consequently, applying the simple formula suggest a pseudo-accurate assessment given the raw input data. 

What’s more. according to our experience, RICE and related methods typically favor the low-hanging fruit while postponing moonshot projects.

Further Reading

The Most Popular Prioritization Techniques and Methods

MoSCoW, RICE, KANO model, Walking Skeleton, and others.

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