Top-Quality Guide on RICE Prioritization Framework

Nov 25, 2022Martín Etchegoyen

It has become clear that RICE (react, impact, confidence, and effort) is the most popular method of prioritizing tasks in the industry since its introduction. One of the responsibilities of product managers is to identify the most important projects to work on. Prioritizing is a necessary component of this task.

Having limited resources and too many features can be daunting. Choosing which features to work on and at what point in the process is entirely essential to prevent delays and a poorly implemented product. This is where a prioritization framework comes in. A good scoring system will help you consider all of a project idea's fundamental elements with discipline and combine them in a methodical and logical way. And the best framework is the RICE prioritization framework.

What is the RICE Prioritization Framework

RICE is a type of scoring method for prioritization. It considers four attributes, which are the following. Reach talks about how many users will this impact across a given time period. Impact discusses how much will this impact each user as it related to our chosen goal. Then, confidence determines how confident you are in the reach, impact, and effort estimates.

RICE Prioritization Framework

Finally, effort says how long this will take to implement.

By formulating the RICE prioritization framework, it outputs a single score. This allows the framework to be applied consistently across even the most disparate ideas, allowing for greater objectivity in the way you prioritize.

Elements of the RICE Prioritization Framework

Here are the four elements of the RICE prioritization framework explained so you can have a better idea of how to implement them in your business or work.

1. Reach

The first attribute in the RICE framework is reach. Reach is about estimating how many people your idea or initiative will impact in a given timeframe. Reach is key to consider because it helps you avoid the bias of doing something for a segment of users who, though they might be the squeakiest wheels, do not represent the majority of your users.

When estimating reach, ask yourself how many users or customers you believe this will impact over a given time period. You will need to determine the time period and apply it consistently. For instance, ask yourself how many users you believe this will impact in the next month or quarter. Once you determine this, you will need to then quantify the reach. This is done by calculating those user numbers as an actual quantity.

2. Impact

Impact is best used when in relation to a higher goal or objective and key result, such as “increase conversion by 10 percent.” The question you should be asking yourself here is, “How much will this impact individual users?” Or, for this model, how will it impact conversion, and by how much? These are the types of questions that you should be asking yourself regarding the impact.

RICE Prioritization Framework

3. Confidence

Confidence is an interesting dimension and something that almost all prioritization frameworks should include. Product work, as we know, is inherently uncertain. Bringing confidence into the equation helps us acknowledge that fact and take it into account when prioritizing. When calculating confidence, you want to ask yourself how confident are you with this idea, or how confident are you about the scores that you have given for reach and impact.

Given that confidence is a percentage, it practically handicaps low confidence scores. For instance, say you gave really high scores for reach and impact, but your confidence is low. You are still uncertain whether it will actually have the expected impact or reach the number of users you set. Confidence will take that into account and rebalance the scores, bringing the final RICE score down.

Confidence can also act as a forcing function for discovery and ensure that your decisions are data-informed. When setting a confidence score, ask yourself how much data or supporting evidence you have for this idea.

On the other hand, let’s suppose that you have an idea that contains ballpark figures with little to no supporting data or discovery to back it up. In this case, it would be hard to argue anything but low confidence. Finally, the confidence rating is not the final score. It could very well act as a prompt to ask. This may lead you to do some necessary discoveries and, in the end, increase your confidence rating.

4. Effort

The last component of the RICE prioritization framework scoring model is effort. Effort is here to ensure that the potential benefits outweigh the costs. For effort, you want to calculate the amount of time this will take to complete. Effort can be calculated as person-hours or as simply the number of days/weeks and/or sprints it will take the team to complete.

Effort is not supposed to be an exact science. It should be an estimate, so do not think too much about getting exact numbers or spend too much time retrieving estimates from the team.

4 Short Benefits of Using the RICE Prioritization Framework

As a recurring team exercise, monthly or quarterly, the RICE prioritization framework encourages your team to think about the problem they are solving from a specific perspective and with a number of advantages. Here are the advantages of counting with this process.

1. Metric definition

Thinking about your product improvements with the RICE framework in mind will help your team redefine what metric matters when it comes to success.

2. Data-driven decision

In order to utilize the RICE scoring model, you need to consider clear data points such as a number of requests or an overall number of users affected by a feature, removing emotions and opinions from the prioritization debates.

3. Flexible Framework

You can easily adapt the model to your reality. Use it to prioritize ideas, features, and initiatives.

4. Favor alignment

Because the score covers critical variables, everyone can understand how it will help you align everyone on your roadmap, internally and externally.

Final Thoughts on RICE prioritization framework

The RICE prioritization framework is a great tool. If you follow the instructions in this guide you will realize how important it is to carry out the process in the right way.

Martín Etchegoyen

Martín Etchegoyen

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