The RICE Feature Prioritization Framework: When and How to Use It

The RICE Feature Prioritization Framework: When and How to Use It
Table of contents

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 absolutely 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.

Score-based prioritization using RICE Framework

The RICE prioritization framework is a model recently developed by the team at Intercom, an app designed to connect companies and customers. 

The Intercom team felt that standard prioritization frameworks lacked the flexibility and were disconnected from what matters most when making a decision about what initiatives, features, improvements to prioritize. 

As a result, they tried to create a new approach for weighing ideas, functionalities, and projects to clearly demonstrate to stakeholders the reasons and the results of adding initiatives to their roadmap.

In this article, we will quickly share the fundamentals about RICE. We will try to go beyond the original post of Sean Mc Bride who co-developed the RICE prioritization as a Product Manager in the early days of Intercom.

Our goal is to help you understand WHEN you should use the RICE Prioritization Framework and HOW to deploy it in your team.

First, let’s start with a quick definition. 

What is the RICE Scoring Model for Prioritization?

RICE is the acronym for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, the four factors we use to evaluate each project idea.

In order to better understand how to calculate the parameters and then finally implement this prioritization framework in your company, let's first take a quick look at how the different elements work and the questions they answer:

We recently added a RICE Prioritization BOARD to the ProdCamp prioritization module. 

Should Product Managers use RICE? 

Why would you use the RICE prioritization method over other frameworks, and how can you encourage your team to adopt it?

The RICE model is a validation process to organize well-defined initiatives into an impact-based roadmap. It is not a magic formula to determine what your strategy should be or to transform vague ideas into a vision.

Your strategy and vision have to be set way before you decide to prioritize your roadmap. This is one of the important principles you need to know to build a Product Roadmap.

As a recurring team exercise (monthly or quarterly), the RICE methodology encourages your team to think about the problem they are solving from a specific perspective and with a number of advantages.

  1. Metric definition: Thinking about your product improvements with RICE framework in mind will help your team redefine what metric matters when it comes to success. 
  2. Data-driven decision: To utilize 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, 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.

Factors to consider before using RICE Scoring Model

Before using RICE prioritization framework, they are a few things you need to consider:

1. RICE is not a scientific method. 

The decision to focus on a lower-scoring initiative or to discard a feature with a higher score could be influenced by various factors, such as the dependencies between two projects.

2. There are various ways to calculate each element of the RICE method. 

It's important to make sure RICE aligns with your company's strategy and methodologies before you implement it, and keep the first implementation steps simple to drive adoption.

3. Start by asking the right questions

  • How to quantify your REACH?
  • How to qualify your IMPACT?
  • How to assess your CONFIDENCE level?
  • How to estimate your EFFORTS?

Now that you have a better understanding of how the RICE system works, it's time to examine it in more depth.

RICE as a framework for assessing priorities

Quantify your REACH

An excellent way to think about this criterion is by tracking how many requests there are for a particular feature or how many customers will be affected over time.

It could be as simple as “How many users requested this functionality?”, “How many customers will this project impact over the next quarter?”. You could also consider the number of affected “transaction” or “activities” per month/week. 

It mostly depends on what product metrics or KPI you decide to focus on. Check this article to find out which ones are the most relevant in your context.

What we recommend:

After using RICE internally, we recommend relying on the number of requests received through feedback, customer interview, chat support, etc. to quantify your reach.

Qualify your IMPACT

Impact also depends on what metric matters most for your business and what exactly you want to influence while building something new or improving something that already exists. 

For Intercom, it was “How much will this project increase conversion rate when a customer encounters it?” It could also be, “How much will this initiative increase the number of users needed within one account?” or “How much will this feature drive the adoption of higher pricing plans?” 

When the answer is "dramatic", your initiative will weigh XL. However, when it is "less significant", it will weigh closer to XS. 

What we recommend:

After using RICE internally, we recommend leveraging the combined value of the customers who requested a specific feature to qualify your impact.

Assess your CONFIDENCE level

It is easy to get excited about a new project as a result of your level of confidence, so addressing your level of confidence will compensate for a lack of information, skills, or resources for this project.

The confidence level is often given as a percentage, but you could consider it as a score of 50 for instance.

While calculating your confidence level, be honest with yourself:

  • Do you have metrics to back up your reach and impact research? 
  • Can you continuously track them to measure evolutions? 

Give your project a 100% chance or 50/50 score.

Are your customers asking for AI and you are still hiring the right resources to build it? Give your project a 70% chance or a quality score of 30/50. 

You may have a hard time measuring a project's reach and impact compared to what you evaluate. Your initiative should not get more than a 50% chance or a 20 percent confidence score.

What we recommend:

After using RICE internally, we recommend measuring your confidence level by asking all of the main stakeholders to separate communicate their confidence scores over 100 points. Then, remove the highest and lowest scores and calculate your average confidence score.

Estimate your EFFORTS

Once we know how many people will be affected, how much will they impact, and how confident we are that all of this will occur, we can calculate the effort to find a path that will encounter less resistance. 

There are a few functionalities that would have a high reach and impact with a low level of effort and a high level of confidence. This could be measured in terms of "people per month" or as "number of days/weeks" to develop. 

As for the number of people per month, this will be more difficult to gauge since you have to do some math. Our advice based on our own experience is to use an approximate number of days involved to plan, develop, verify, and deploy the project you assess.

What we recommend:

In order to estimate your effort, we recommend that you first think about it in terms of days of development and ask your development team to get a close estimate. Once you have this estimate, you can take into consideration dependencies with other projects and the effort involved with those.

If the number of dependencies is over two, we recommend you to apply a factor 2 on your effort estimate to cover the dependency aspect, or simply add the effort estimate of the 2 dependencies as well, if they have been forecasted already.

Rice Effort Estimation Example :

Feature Effort estimation

Using RICE scores effectively in ProdCamp 

ProdСamp is a user feedback product management platform designed to help you prioritize your work based on customers' feedback from multiple sources. 

Once you capture feedback with ProdСamp, you can use it to prioritize and inform your product roadmap in just a few clicks.

Create a RICE scoring Board and name it:

RICE prioritization board creation

Select which types of criteria you want to use to score your project, idea or feature:

RICE prioritization settings
RICE prioritization by ProdCamp

Select the ideas or functionalities you need to prioritize and add them to your board from the pickup list:

RICE prioritization in ProdCamp

Score your REACH, IMPACT, CONFIDENCE and EFFORT level for each of the features:

RICE scoring example

Obtain your RICE score and clarify what your team should be focusing on for the next quarter or sprint:

RICE score

Start acting. Change the priority of your feature right from your board and add it to your roadmap:

feature view in prodcamp

Build! Share it with your dev team along with all the user insight you have collected while getting feedback.

push features to jira button in ProdCamp

What you should remember

A clear prioritization framework and a scoring system will allow you to decide when to make exceptions.

RICE can be extremely useful when comparing ideas that are difficult to compare. It makes you think about why a project idea will be meaningful, and forces you to be realistic about how much effort it will take to achieve the goal.

Ready to start turning user feedback into revenue and improving your customer satisfaction?


What is Rice prioritization framework?

The RICE prioritization framework is a method used in product management to prioritize features and initiatives based on four key factors: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps product managers and teams make data-driven decisions when deciding which features to work on next. Here's an overview of each component: Reach (R): Reach measures how many users or customers will be affected by a particular feature or initiative. It quantifies the potential audience impacted by the change. Reach is usually expressed as a numerical value, such as the number of users, customers, or sessions affected. Impact (I): Impact assesses the potential positive or negative effect a feature or initiative will have on users or the business. It quantifies the magnitude of the change and its significance. Impact is typically scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest impact. Confidence (C): Confidence reflects the level of certainty or confidence the team has in the estimated values for Reach and Impact. It considers the reliability of the data and assumptions used to calculate Reach and Impact. Confidence is often expressed as a percentage, where a higher percentage indicates greater confidence. Effort (E): Effort quantifies the resources, time, and complexity required to develop and implement the feature or initiative. It takes into account factors like development time, design work, testing, and any other required resources. Effort is typically measured in person-hours or person-days. The RICE framework helps prioritize features by calculating a RICE score for each feature or initiative. The formula for calculating the RICE score is: RICE Score = (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort Features with higher RICE scores are considered higher priorities because they have the potential to reach a large audience (high Reach), deliver significant value (high Impact), and have a reasonable level of confidence in the estimates (high Confidence) while requiring relatively less effort (low Effort). Using the RICE framework allows product teams to focus on initiatives that offer the greatest potential impact with the least amount of effort. It provides a structured and quantitative way to make prioritization decisions, especially when dealing with limited resources and a backlog of feature ideas.

How do you calculate rice priority?

To calculate the RICE priority score for a product feature or initiative, you can use the following formula: RICE Score = (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort Here's a breakdown of each component and how to calculate them: Reach (R): This represents the potential number of users or customers who will be affected by the feature. It's typically measured in a numerical value. To calculate Reach, you can estimate the number of users or customers who will directly interact with or benefit from the feature. For example, if you expect 10,000 users to use the feature, Reach would be 10,000. Impact (I): Impact measures the magnitude of the change that the feature will bring. It's typically scored on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest impact. You should assess how significantly the feature will improve or affect user experience or business outcomes. For example, if you believe the feature will have a substantial impact, you might assign an Impact score of 9. Confidence (C): Confidence reflects the level of certainty you have in your estimates for Reach and Impact. It's expressed as a percentage. You can base Confidence on the quality of your data, user research, and historical data. For example, if you have high confidence in your estimates, you might assign a Confidence score of 80%. Effort (E): Effort quantifies the resources, time, and complexity required to develop and implement the feature. It's often measured in person-hours or person-days. You should estimate the development effort, design work, testing, and other resource requirements. For example, if you estimate that the feature will take two weeks of development time, Effort would be the equivalent of those person-hours. Once you have these values for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, you can plug them into the formula to calculate the RICE score. Features with higher RICE scores are considered higher priority because they represent initiatives with the potential for significant impact relative to the effort required. It's important to note that the RICE framework is a relative prioritization method, so you can compare the RICE scores of different features to determine which should be prioritized first. The feature with the highest RICE score typically takes precedence in your product roadmap.

What is an example of rice Prioritisation?

Let's consider an example of how the RICE prioritization framework might be applied to two different product features, Feature A and Feature B: Feature A: Reach (R): 5,000 users will directly benefit from this feature. Impact (I): This feature is expected to have a significant impact on user engagement and retention, with a score of 9. Confidence (C): The team is confident in the estimates, with a confidence level of 90%. Effort (E): Developing this feature will require approximately 2 weeks of development work, which is equivalent to 80 person-hours. Using the RICE formula: RICE Score for Feature A = (5,000 x 9 x 0.90) / 80 = 506.25 Feature B: Reach (R): 10,000 users will be affected by this feature. Impact (I): While valuable, this feature is expected to have a moderate impact on user experience, with a score of 6. Confidence (C): The team has moderate confidence in the estimates, with a confidence level of 70%. Effort (E): Developing this feature will require approximately 3 weeks of development work, equivalent to 120 person-hours. Using the RICE formula: RICE Score for Feature B = (10,000 x 6 x 0.70) / 120 = 350 In this example, Feature A has a higher RICE score of 506.25 compared to Feature B with a score of 350. Based on the RICE scores, Feature A would be considered a higher priority because it is expected to have a more significant impact on a slightly smaller user base, with a higher level of confidence in the estimates, and with relatively less effort required for development. Therefore, the team might prioritize the development of Feature A ahead of Feature B in their product roadmap.

What does the rice framework stand for?

The RICE framework stands for: 1. Reach (R): This represents the number of users who will be affected by a particular feature or project. It quantifies the potential user reach or audience impacted by the feature. 2. Impact (I): Impact refers to the potential impact or benefit that the feature will have on users or the business. It quantifies how valuable or significant the feature is expected to be. 3. Confidence (C): Confidence measures the level of certainty or confidence that the team has in the estimations for reach and impact. It accounts for the degree of uncertainty in the data. 4. Effort (E): Effort represents the amount of time, resources, or effort required to develop and implement the feature. It quantifies the development or implementation cost. The RICE framework is often used in product management to prioritize features or projects by calculating a score based on these four factors. It helps product teams make informed decisions about which features to prioritize in their product roadmap.

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