Well, it’s 2022, and I took a break from writing for the past few months. It was a mistake, but I’m trying to correct that with this first article of the year.
There are a lot of techniques that exist to help folks make prioritization decisions. They range from highly subjective methods to very intricate ones, and I recently learned of a new one to add to my repertoire.
It is called the RICE method.
Before getting started with it, I wanted to talk about why I liked it when I first saw it. To me, it had a lot of immediate benefits:
- Quick to understand
- Allows for comparison
- It has math!
- Requires only basic data
I’m attracted to this technique because it asks for information any product person should have and turns it into a formula that helps make decisions.
With that, let’s get into how it works.
RICE is an acronym that stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. I’ll break each one down further below, but at the end, you’ll take numbers for each of those and plug it into this formula:
(Reach * Impact * Confidence)/Effort
This will give you a simple number that when you compare this across other products or features, you can decide on where to target your next investment of time and energy.
Alright, reach is pretty straightforward in that it is about the size of the audience that will use the product or feature.
There are quirks to this, like what if the reach is there with an uneven impact. This would be more common in a B2B scenario, but you can figure out how to represent this with a little bit of problem-solving.
So, for example, your feature that will affect 1 million users? Your reach is one million. Or you can do what I saw one product person do and build a whole product for half a year for one person.
Impact requires that someone knows what metric they are attempting to move. If you have a group building product without any metrics or measures, this won’t work.
More than likely, they couldn’t do Reach either.
So, impact represents how much your metric will move. So if you’re focusing on revenue, you’re going to represent impact by how much your revenue will move.
This number is often reduced down to a scale of some sort, so if that fits your need, go ahead. However, I’d suggest avoiding the temptation to make this into a highly subjective scale.
What do I mean by a highly subjective scale? Well, let’s say you want to make an impact on a scale of 1 to 5. Let’s go further and say we’re impacting revenue. A highly subjective version of this would mean a five feels like a lot of revenue, and a one feels like none.
At that point, your impact is whatever someone feels like it is. So if you’re going to have a scale, I’d recommend having a conversation about what range of numbers represent each number on the scale.
Time for a brutal look in the mirror here with confidence. This number represents how full of crap we are. For example, there is a vast difference between a feature that impacts millions of users that we’re 90% sure of and a feature that affects millions of users that we’re 20% sure of.
Confidence represents how wild a set of assumptions you’re making.
Now getting to this number might be tricky. Some groups are allergic to admitting anything could go wrong. Some individuals are too. So, you might need to get at this number a few different ways. Either way, when you’re done, capture the confidence as a percentage.
This number is probably the one everyone knows pretty easily, but this one represents your effort to build and get it into the hands of your users.
You can represent this several ways, but if you want to represent it in weeks, then make sure you do everything the same.
Your First Attempt
Putting this technique into practice is something I’m hoping to do here in the next year. So, I’ll let you know how it goes when that happens. My advice around the scales and numbers comes from similar experiences with many other techniques that people oversimplify.
If you’ve used this technique, I’d love to hear about it, and if you want to read more, here’s a page where I first learned about it.
Also, I first shared this with my newsletter audience months ago, so sign up if you’d have rather bumped into this sooner!