Christopher Murphy · 22 October, 2020

Your product roadmap sits before you, full of wonderful ideas that you have no doubt will set your product apart from your competitors’, all you need to do now is execute on your ideas, turning them into a reality.

Your problem is resources. You can't do everything, so how do you prioritize your list…?

Prioritization is Hard

If you've ever worked on a product and encountered this situation, you'll know that prioritizing a product roadmap isn't easy:

  • there might be ideas that you love – you’d use them yourself, definitely – but they might not have the reach and impact that other ideas on the list might have;
  • there might be ideas that you're not so enthusiastic about, but another stakeholder (perhaps one more senior than you) is confident are high impact; or
  • there might be ideas that are new and interesting, but will involve a great deal of effort learning some new frameworks.

Somehow you have to weigh up all the competing factors above and create a prioritized list so that you can work your way through it in a systematic manner. That's where Intercom's RICE scoring framework comes in.

RICE Scoring

A solid prioritization framework can help you weigh up each idea independently, balancing the risks and rewards so you can make an informed decision about what to develop next.

RICE is an acronym for four factors you can weigh up to evaluate an idea:

  • Reach
  • Impact
  • Confidence
  • Effort

For Reach, you're looking for a high score, i.e. We believe that focusing on X will reach a lot of people.

Similarly, for Impact, you're looking for a high score, i.e. We believe that focusing on Y will have a large impact.

You're also looking for a high score for Confidence, i.e. We're 80% confident that we can do this on time.

For Effort, you're looking for a low score, i.e. We're confident this won't take long.

Everything below is courtesy of Intercom:

Reach: How many people will this affect within a given period? This is measured in number of people or events per time period, e.g. 'customers per quarter' or 'transactions per month'.

Impact: What's the impact on an individual? For example, “How much will this increase conversion rates when a customer encounters it?" This is hard to measure precisely, Intercom use a multiple choice scale:

  • 3 for “massive impact”
  • 2 for “high”
  • 1 for “medium”
  • 0.5 for “low”, and
  • 0.25 for “minimal”.

Confidence: To curb enthusiasm for exciting but ill-defined ideas, factor in your level of confidence about your estimates. If you think a project could have huge impact but don’t have data to back it up, confidence lets you control that.

  • 100% is “high confidence”
  • 80% is “medium”
  • 50% is “low”.

Effort: To move quickly and have impact with the least amount of effort, estimate the total amount of time a project will require from all members of your team: product, design, and engineering, estimating it as 'person-months'.

Further Reading

If you'd like to dive a little deeper, Intercom – who created the RICE scoring framework – have written an extensive overview. complete with an Excel spreadsheet that takes care of all the sums for you.

Finally, There are numerous strategies and prioritization frameworks for choosing which features to develop next. Jim Semick, Founder and Chief Strategist at ProductPlan, has gathered outlined seven of them in 7 Strategies to Choose the Best Features for Your Product.