What is the RICE framework?
The RICE framework is a project management framework that helps you prioritize projects based on specific criteria, rather than a gut feeling. For the RICE framework, the criteria that make up the acronym are:
In other words, the RICE prioritization method accounts for how many people are going to experience the final product, how much it will affect the business, how sure are you about your estimations, and how much work will be required to make it happen?
RICE framework formula
Each of these factors is calculated independent of one another, then dropped into the RICE formula:
(R x I x C) / E
RICE prioritization score calculation method
The nice thing about the RICE prioritization framework is that it bases the final score on factors that directly affect your business. This scoring system eliminates the risk of putting all your efforts into projects that might be cool, they might add value, and they might be things that your customers are asking for, but won’t actually use. Prioritization using the RICE method ensures that you’re not focused on all the wrong things.
How to calculate reach
Reach is how many people the project is going to, well, reach. Basically, what’s the audience for this? The basic way to figure out reach is to determine how many people will be impacted by this within a given period of time.
The amount of time is something that you determine on your own, but for the sake of providing an example, let’s look at a short-term goal of one month.
Reach has to be measured by a specific metric based on what you want to achieve. If you’re looking to gain more customers, then you have to measure by new customers. However, if you’re looking to gather leads, not customers, focus on that.
Let’s use new customers as our example. If you finish a project and, within one month, 200 new customers sign up to try it, then your reach is 200 people.
However, if 200 people signed up for a trial of a new product, but you have a low conversion rate and only 15 of those converted to new customers, then your reach is only 15 people. In this case, you’d focus on the project that captured 200 new customers.
How to calculate impact
Once you’ve established reach, it’s time to figure out the impact the project will have. Impact is somewhat less specific than reach because you’re not measuring a specific thing, per se. Impact is assessed on a scale somewhat similar to Small, Medium, Large, Very Large. Then, once you’ve established the basic scale, you assign a numerical value to each one. For this example, let’s assign small a value of 0.5, medium is 1.0, large is 2.0, and very large is 4.
Using the example from above, something bringing in 200 new customers is going to have a Very Large impact (or 4) on your business, especially if you’re a smaller or medium-sized business where it doesn’t take much to have a massive impact on your business.
How to calculate confidence
Confidence is a way to make sure that you’re using good numbers for your estimations above. This is a good way to make sure that you’re not just super excited about a project and accidentally use better numbers because of the excitement. Confidence is measured as a percent, similar to the way impact is measured. So, if you’re Very confident (High confidence) about something, you’d give it a rating of 100%. If you’re Confident about it, you might assign it 75%. If you’re Not confident (Low confidence), you’d probably give it a rating of 50% or less.
For example, if you know for sure that you’ll get 200 new customers from your project because you have the data to back it up, you’d rank it Very confident and work with a high confidence score of 100% for the rest of your calculations.
How to calculate effort
Last, but not least, we’ve got effort. The effort score is measured as the estimated amount of work one team member can do in a specific time period, usually one month (reported as person-months). When calculating effort, you need to factor in the effort of each person involved in the process.
For our example project, you’d have to determine the various stages of the project and how the number of people needed to do the work during that time. Let’s say it breaks down like this: two weeks of planning (two weeks), two weeks of coding for three engineers (six weeks), one week of design for two designers (two weeks). When you add that up, you get 8 weeks, or 2 person-months.
How to calculate your final RICE score
To calculate the RICE score, you use the RICE framework formula we mentioned earlier:
(R x I x C) / E.
So, for our example above, we’d be looking at (200 x 4 x 100%) / 2. When you do the math, that works out to a RICE score of 400.
Ideally, you’ll run through this process for each of the projects on your list, then you’ll be able to accurately compare the RICE scores to determine what project you should take on next.
1. Align priorities with your goals
2. Unify all score scales
3. Compare individual scores
4. Visualize project influence with a RICE matrix
(still in the making)
5. Re-evaluate priorities
Using RICE framework for prioritization
Step 1: Add projects
On the page, you’ll see the main table with a list of sample projects. For each project, add an Owner so people know who owns the project.
Step 2: Fill out the RICE columns
Each letter in the RICE acronym has its own column in the table. Go through each project and rate each project across each letter of the RICE acronym. For the Impact column, you’ll see the corresponding values for each impact level in the page. Feel free to adjust these values based on your team’s preferences. While the Effort column is supposed to be in “person-months,” feel free to enter in the estimated number of weeks the project will take. The final RICE score takes into account each column.
Step 3: View and sort your projects by RICE score
Now that you have applied the RICE framework to your projects, you can view your list in different ways. First, you can check off the Sort by RICE score checkbox at the top of the page to quickly sort your list of projects by the RICE Score column. This let’s you see which project rises to the top and should be the focus for your project team. The view of your projects shows the exact same list of projects except it groups your projects by the Impact level.