Product management

How can the RICE model prioritize roadmaps?

The essential food in many diets worldwide, rice is ubiquitous with simplicity. No wonder it’s spelling-sake; the acronym R.I.C.E. ( Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort) simplifies a lot of activities, removes biases, and adds efficiency to the system.

RICE is a scoring model used to determine the products, features, and other activities that can be put on the roadmaps. The scores are calculated on four factors – reach, impact, confidence, and effort – and help product managers back up their priorities with numbers in front of other stakeholders (mainly leaders).

RICE framework was developed by Intercom, a messaging-software company, as a method to improve their internal decision-making and product management processes. The framework pits each competing idea against one another by comparing their reach, the impact they’re expected to have on customers, the confidence with which the task can be completed in the timeframe, and the total effort required to finish the job.

The final RICE score is calculated based on the following formula:

RICE score calculation

How to get customer testimonials and how to use them to calculate RICE?

Testimonials of past features can serve as an indicator of the success of similar characteristics. When product managers approach customers for feedback, they can ask pointed questions to know and understand what worked for them the best. This list can be compared to the list of features planned for development, and a decision can be made on adding features to or removing elements from the roadmap. Customer reviews can be given a certain weightage while calculating the ‘Impact’ part of RICE to provide sufficient importance to customer needs in the roadmap-building process.

Utilizing social media

Social media allows product managers to be social, listen to the product chatter, and if any new developments can be utilized to take the product forward. If the product is popular in certain circles, having a social media page can help product managers define their reach more accurately. The filters provided by social media platforms for targeted advertising can also reveal what customers are looking for and what competitors are doing. Products with a well-established social media presence can also use their accounts to conduct impromptu surveys to check the crowd’s pulse. The confidence factor can also be measured by the number of positive or negative replies.

Reward customer for review

Organizations rewarding their customers for reviewing products sounds a bit fishy, but only if it is done evilly. Organizations can always reward customers who give bad reviews with an update to the effect that addresses the issue—giving genuinely inconvenienced customers an honest apology, a solution to their problem, and a discount if they want to provide the organization with another chance. Such gestures of goodwill increase the organization’s reach and trust level. Customers support organizations who stand behind their products and commit to improving.

Send emails for testimonials.  

While product managers handling B2B/Software solutions have no issue mailing their enterprise customers a hundred times asking for details and other essentials, the tone changes when the talk turns to requesting a testimonial. By overcoming the hesitation, product managers can build better roadmaps by using customer feedback as input for upcoming stints. Tools like Typeform Integration help product managers create interactive forms that can make taking customer feedback easier and tailored to their experience with the product. The objective nature of such feedback goes a long way in keeping the RICE scores on neutral ground.

Importance for business

RICE is a prioritization framework through and through. It helps product managers make better-informed decisions about what features or tasks need to be done and then defend those decisions with leaders and other stakeholders. The RICE scores simplify decisions between hard-to-compare ideas (say, a backend database overhauling task and a ‘one-click solution’ add-on). Once the initial scoring is done, product managers should sort the list and re-evaluate their priorities. Of course, using the score as a sacrosanct rule to decide future roadmap activities might backfire: a low-impact project might be a prerequisite for a huge update, so it has to be added to the feature queue – even if its RICE value is relatively low. 

Final words

Developing a product roadmap is not a work of guess but a carefully planned event. Product managers must consider the importance of features and what they can do for customers – but also the effort and strain the work can put on their team members. RICE scores help product managers get closer to the balance of high achievement and satisfaction among all in the team and get the requisite approval from the organization for the features to be implemented.

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