Not sure which product, feature, project, or even idea on your list should come first? With the RICE method of prioritization, you can use simple ratings and a final score to put the most important items at the top of the list.
What Is the RICE Prioritization Method?
You can use the RICE method of prioritization to determine which products, features, projects, ideas, activities, integrations, inventions, or similar items should come first in your business. For instance, you may have a list of features that you want to implement for your product but arenât sure which is most important.
While mainly used in product management, the technique is useful for prioritizing projects, ideas, or activities as well. Basically, you can use it for items that affect others, have an impact on all users, and require work.
The RICE method has four factors and stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.
Reach: number of users that the product, feature, or project will affect.
Impact: amount of impact that the product, feature, or project will have on the users.
Confidence: amount of confidence you have in the rating estimates you give for the other three factors.
Effort: amount of effort involved in implementing the product, feature, or project. You can use hours, weeks, or months for X people to complete it.
How to Calculate Scoring for the RICE Method
Using ratings for the four factors of the RICE method, calculate a final score for each product, feature, project, or idea. The item with the highest score is the most important and should be done first, while the lowest is the least important and should wait.
Hereâs how to rate each RICE method factor:
Reach: exact number of customers, clients, or users affected is ideal, but if unavailable, then use your best guess.
Impact: the most common impact scoring for RICE prioritization uses the following numbers.
- Massive impact: 3
- High impact: 2
- Medium impact: 1
- Low impact: 0.5
- Minimal impact: 0.25
You may see some models that use only four numbers, ranging from 4 to 1. Use whichever is easiest for you, but keep it consistent for each item on the list.
Confidence: score the degree of confidence you have in the factor estimates by using the following percentages:
- High confidence: 100 percent
- Medium confidence: 80 percent
- Low confidence: 50 percent
Effort: calculate the effort using hours, weeks, or months for X people. For example, you can give a score of 6 if it will take two developers three weeks (2 x 3 = 6) or a score of 40 if it will take one developer 40 hours. The key is to be consistent with all projects when scoring the effort with your RICE prioritization tool.
RICE Score: using the values above, calculate the RICE score as Reach multiplied by Impact multiplied by Confidence divided by Effort.
Hereâs an example:
- Reach: 1000
- Impact: 3
- Confidence: 80% (0.8)
- Effort: 20
RICE Score: 1000 * 3 * 0.8 / 20 = 120
RICE Method Considerations
Because the RICE method of prioritization involves a guesstimate for the impact and a level of confidence, itâs not a âsure thing.â However, the scoring can help you and your team evaluate the items on your list if you work together on the ratings for the RICE score.
Additionally, if new information comes to light after your evaluation, you can adjust your ratings and reprioritize based on the updated RICE scores.
Two final considerations are to be certain that the prioritization aligns with your companyâs overall goals and objectives and that your resource availability can accommodate the priorities.
One of the best ways to create a RICE prioritization tool is by using a spreadsheet application. This allows you to set up a clean and ongoing list of projects, products, or features, as well as enter and copy the formula for the scoring.
As an example, we are making a RICE prioritization sheet in Microsoft Excel. If you prefer Google Sheets or Apple Numbers, you can create it the same way and use the same formula.
Open a new workbook or sheet and enter the header row for the items youâre scoring and the evaluation factors. Start with the items (Project, Product, or Feature) in the first column, followed by Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort, and the RICE Score to the right.
Optionally, insert a row above the header row or add notes to the cells containing the four factors and scoring for reference.
List the items you plan to score in the first column on the left, then add a rating for each factor in the corresponding column and row to the right.
In the last column on the right for the RICE Score, enter the following formula in the first cell below the header. In our example, this is cell F3.
Note that if you do not enter a row above the header row for reference, as shown above, your cell references will use row 2 (B2, C2, D2, and E2) rather than row 3.
Select the cell containing the formula, and copy it to the cells in the rows beneath. In Excel, you can save time by clicking the fill handle and dragging downward.
The final RICE score for each will be displayed on the far right.
For a cleaner score, round the formula results up to the nearest whole number or decimal. Here, we are rounding up by decreasing the decimal.
To put the highest priority items at the top, sort by the RICE Score column. To do this in Excel, select the headers and scores, go to the Home tab, and click Sort & Filter > Custom Sort in the Editing section.
In the box that opens, choose RICE Score for the Column, Cell Values for Sort On, and Largest to Smallest for the Order. Click OK.
As you can see with our example, the items are sorted from highest to lowest RICE score. This moved Feature 3 to the top of the list with a RICE score of 67.
Once you add all your items and get your scoring, you can format the look and feel of your sheet any way you would like. Give the header row a color or the RICE Score column a bold font. You can also do things like add a reference ID to each item or include a title at the top.
RICE Prioritization Templates
While there isnât a huge variety of RICE prioritization templates like those youâd find for project management or budgeting, you can check out a couple of free options below for your preferred application.
RICE Template for Google Sheets
For Google Sheets, take a look at this RICE Prioritization template from 97th Floor. The sheet gives you the basics needed to calculate your RICE score, along with a few extras. Add a project goal, data source, rank, and takeaway.
RICE Template for Notion
If youâre a Notion user, use this RICE template from Gatherthink. The matrix lets you list your items and ratings, then score them easily. You can also use the Risk column for adding to your evaluation criteria.
Will You Use the RICE Method?
If youâre struggling to prioritize the projects, products, features, or ideas on your list, why not give the RICE method a try? You can always create the prioritization tool with your team, or enter your own ratings and have another person check it for you.
For other ways to prioritize items, like a list of tasks, take a look at how to use the Eisenhower matrix method.
Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
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