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ICE Scoring

By Dan Collins

Updated: June 15th, 2023

Reviewed by: Janna Bastow

Fact checked by: Megan Saker

What is the ICE Scoring Model?

The ICE Scoring Model is a prioritization framework used in product management to evaluate the potential success of a product or feature. ICE stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease, which are the three criteria used to score each product or feature.

The model helps to provide a structured process for product managers to prioritize work on specific products or features. It helps ensure that the team focuses on high-impact items that are easier to implement and have a higher level of confidence in their success.

Here are the steps to use the ICE Scoring Model:

  1. Identify which products or features you will evaluate.
  2. Assign a score for each of the three criteria – Impact, Confidence, and Ease.
  3. Add up the scores for each criterion. The total score should range from 3-30.
  4. Repeat this process for all products or features that need to be prioritized.
  5. Use the scores to make informed decisions about which product or feature to work on next. The higher a feature’s ICE score, the more priority it should have.

Following this model can help you to effectively prioritize your backlog and create a viable product roadmap.

What is the origin of the ICE Scoring Model?

The ICE prioritization framework was popularized by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown, growth experts and authors of the book Hacking Growth. They developed the ICE framework to suit the needs of startups and growth-focused organizations that aimed to move quickly and efficiently in finding and testing growth opportunities.

Many agile product teams and development teams use the ICE Scoring Model to prioritize product or feature enhancements. It is considered to be one of the more effective ways to identify and prioritize high-impact, high-confidence, and low-effort initiatives.

How does the ICE Scoring Model work?

The ICE Score Model relies on three key metrics: impact, confidence, and ease, each playing a crucial role in determining the importance and prioritization of a particular feature.

The three criteria that you measure in the ICE framework are:

  1. Impact
  2. Confidence
  3. Ease

1. Impact

This measures how much a feature can impact the business goals, growth potential, or customer retention of the product. You score it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the highest impact. The higher the impact score, the more likely the feature will drive meaningful growth and business value.

2. Confidence

This is the level of belief that a particular feature will deliver the intended impact. You score it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating a high level of confidence. The Confidence score considers aspects such as competition, market demand, user feedback, and data analysis to predict the success of a particular feature.

3. Ease

This measures the level of effort, time, and resources required to complete a particular feature. You score it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 signifying a straightforward or effortless execution. The ease score takes into account factors like technical complexity, dependencies, and your existing product backlog.

The components of the ICE Scoring model

The three metrics are weighted (usually evaluated in terms of their importance to business considerations), ultimately resulting in a total score. The impact metric usually carries the most weight, as it measures the feature’s potential business value. Once you have scored each metric, you multiply them together to arrive at the total ICE score, ranging from 1 to 1000.

The highest-scoring feature is given the highest priority, and the lower-scoring ones fall in the ranking correspondingly. However, it’s crucial to balance all three metrics to find the best approach to prioritize features. Overemphasizing either ease or confidence may result in analysis paralysis, and focusing too much on impact may result in selecting an unfeasible feature.

What are the benefits of using the ICE Scoring Model?

The ICE Scoring Model offers several benefits when prioritizing product features, making it a popular approach for product teams.

Using the ICE prioritization framework has the following benefits:

  • It can help teams quickly make decisions and prioritize tasks without experiencing analysis paralysis.
  • It allows teams to organize their thoughts and quickly reach a clear consensus.
  • It speeds up the prioritization process as it allows teams to quickly compare initiatives.
  • It helps teams avoid wasting time on initiatives that may not be viable.

The beauty of ICE is in its simplicity. Quantifying each criterion in impact, confidence, and ease allows teams to organize their thoughts and reach a clear consensus. This helps to avoid the ambiguity and subjectivity that might arise from other prioritization techniques. By being able to quantify and numerically evaluate each criterion, teams can easily return to their assessments later.

The ICE Scoring method also speeds up the prioritization process. Because you break the criteria into three main components, it allows teams to quickly compare initiatives. This quantification can be particularly useful for large, complex products and helps teams avoid wasting time on initiatives that may not be viable.

Using the ICE Scoring Model can also help teams to achieve consensus more quickly. Instead of lengthy deliberations over what’s important, teams can turn to this model to rank initiatives objectively. The speed and objectivity of the ICE score framework can help build momentum for growth teams, preventing delays and ensuring consistent progress.

The ICE Scoring Model’s simplicity, speed, and ability to quantify each criterion help teams quickly rank initiatives, reach a consensus, and make informed decisions. By streamlining the prioritization process, this model can help teams significantly in their efforts to achieve business goals and boost growth.

What are the drawbacks of using the ICE Scoring Model?

While the ICE Scoring Model can be a useful tool for product teams to prioritize initiatives, it’s important to keep in mind that there are potential drawbacks associated with using this framework:

  • It can oversimplify complex tasks: The ICE model may not be the best approach for tasks that are multi-faceted and require a more nuanced analysis. The model doesn’t take into account all the factors that could impact the task, which could lead to oversimplification.
  • It can be subjective: The scores given for impact, confidence, and ease can vary depending on the person evaluating the task. What one person considers a high impact, another may consider to be low. This can lead to inconsistent results.
  • It doesn’t account for resources: The ICE model doesn’t consider the availability of resources needed to complete the task, such as time, money, or personnel. This could lead you to prioritize tasks that are not feasible to complete.
  • It can be biased towards short-term goals: The ICE model is focused on immediate impact, which could lead to neglecting long-term goals that may have a greater impact in the future.

Overall, while the ICE model can be a useful tool for prioritizing tasks, it’s important to recognize its limitations and use it in conjunction with other prioritization frameworks for a more comprehensive analysis.