RICE Prioritization

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The RICE scoring model is a priority framework designed to help product managers identify which products, features, and other initiatives to place on their roadmaps, scoring these items based on four factors. The TRICE priority evaluation benchmark is a structure developed to support product managers decide which products, functions, and initiatives are priorities in their roadmaps. Product managers need unique methods and techniques to prioritize and achieve significant business outcomes. Intercom’s team has used dozens of other priority models but still cannot find one that gives specific scoring methods to help the team determine which plans need to be prioritized clearly and precisely.

RICE Prioritization

Information software maker Intercom has designed a RICE roadmap priority benchmark to enhance its inner decision-making approach.

While the company’s product teams know and use the priority models of many other product managers, they are working hard to find a way to apply Intercom’s unique competitive project ideas. To solve the problem, the team developed its assessment model based on four factors (scope, impact, confidence, and effort) and a formula that quantifies and combines these factors. This formula outputs a single score. Even the most different ideas can be applied consistently, giving teams an objective way to identify which initiatives are prioritized on their product roadmaps.

Prioritization is a problematic issue.

So why is it so challenging to prioritize the product roadmap? Here are some difficulties:

  • It is satisfying to pursue pet ideas that the company will use rather than projects with broad reach.
  • It is tempting to focus on brilliant ideas rather than projects that directly affect product team goals.
  • It is exciting to focus on new ideas rather than projects in which product managers are confident.
  • It is easy to discount that one project requires more effort than another.
  • Even if the product manager can get through this mental minefield intact, he faces the difficult task of consistently incorporating and comparing these factors across all project ideas.

RICE score: A simple priority tool

That is what the scoring system does. A good priority framework can help the product manager consider every element of his project’s ideas with precise discipline and combine them rigorously and consistently.

Using a scoring system to prioritize product management is certainly nothing new. Systems to balance costs and benefits abound. However, it is hard to find a system that allows the company to compare ideas effectively and consistently.

In response, we began developing our scoring system to prioritize the first principles. After extensive testing and iteration, we identified four factors and a way to combine them.

Suggestions on how to enhance the RICE framework to prioritize better

Here are eight steps to strengthen product team priorities.

  • Specify the standard meaning of the company product or niche.
  • Add customizations that meet company goals.
  • Harmonize scoring criteria to allow faster prioritization.
  • Collect different opinions for the expert assessment.
  • Check the spread of the scores to ensure the clarity of the estimates.
  • Use a matrix to show the impact of the project.
  • Discuss priorities for informed decision-making.
  • Re-evaluate outstanding projects to update their relevance.

Closing Lines

Prioritization is intended to help the company make decisions and to make them faster. Estimates with realistic metrics do not make their priorities perfect, so they do not have to think about which projects to implement. A focused framework such as RICE will support product managers make more intelligent judgments about what to do first and guard those decisions against others. Using a scoring system to prioritize product management is certainly nothing new. Systems to balance costs and benefits abound. However, it is hard to find a system that allows the product team to compare ideas consistently.

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