I've reviewed more than 100 prioritization frameworks, and I wanted to share what I've learned about the landscape outside of RICE. RICE is probably the most commonly referenced scoring method for stack ranking projects, ideas, or product features.

Where did this come from?

RICE scoring is a commonly referenced prioritization framework in product management and elsewhere. It shows up in most articles about prioritization techniques. In fact, after noticing so many of these articles, I decided to go on a little prioritization journey, where I lined up all prioritization frameworks mentioned on the internet. After that exercise, I realized there are many methods out there that are rarely discussed. Many of them may serve similar purposes to the popular ones like RICE. These alternatives are probably even more complete while also maintaining simplicity.

First off, let's briefly review RICE.

What is the RICE prioritization?


There are multiple framework formats such as mappings, grids, canvases, collaborative games, etc. RICE, however, is one of the many scoring frameworks.

The RICE acronym stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort. The formula is (Reach x Impact x Confidence)/Effort.

So what do all of these mean?

R-Reach refers to how many people will be exposed to your project or feature. This is the actual number of people within any time preferred time period (monthly, daily, annually, etc.)

I-Impact is the business impact or value determined on a 5-point scale where 3 is the highest and 0.25 is the lowest (3, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.25).

C-Confidence is on yet another scale — a percentage scale — generally with 3 options, which are 100%, 80%, and 50%. I think it is safe to use any percentage here, though.

E-Effort is measured in yet another way; that way is the number of person-months.

Some problems with RICE

We need to keep in mind that no framework will be perfect. I would never recommend that someone use any framework like this by itself to make decisions. Also, different companies, teams, products, or projects will have different needs. With that in mind, there are still some opportunities to improve without adding much (if any) complexity.

  • All over the place: The fact that each of the 4 parts is on different scales and has different rules drives me nuts.
  • Strategy is missing. Without some goals for your team or larger organization, none of these RICE factors will mean anything in the end.
  • Where is the customer? One could argue that optimizing for business returns alone is short-sighted. With the current pieces of RICE, how do we know that we are actually solving real problems and delivering business value in the long run? This can be helped pretty quickly by simply defining Impact as Customer Impact or something similar. But in that case, we then lose business impact, which is also important.
  • Rough estimates: Some have complained that the RICE categories are subjective. That is true, but there is also value in simplicity. Nothing stops someone from having definitions behind each (3 = 100k+, 2 = 50–100k, etc.) Another easy way around this would be to do away with the scales altogether and use actual numbers while keeping the overall formula.
  • Can we actually execute? None of this matters if our team is not qualified or resourced to tackle the project.

Keeping in mind everyone has different needs, my general stance is that RICE has many holes.



BRICE = RICE + Strategy. Here's a great example of how easy it is to make small but critical improvements to RICE. By introducing Business Importance, Kasey Kaplan built an equation that can help teams align their work to their organization's goals, rather than working in a silo of ignorance.

BRICE has similar problems with the scales changing for each factor and being overly complicated in that way. To be clear, though, there's no downside to switching to BRICE from RICE.



I love the idea of introducing Demand into a priority score. Demand comes from people, and ensuring our work tackles real problems of real people is crucial. Here we see a big difference from RICE where RICE is would bias towards push activities while DIE would raise pull activities — all else equal. That is, addressing demand naturally means we are working on something that would draw people who have these pain points. On the other hand, addressing reach (R in RICE) could mean anything. Who says increasing reach is valuable to people?

Aside from the benefits of demand, the scales are consistent and easy to remember. Select 1–5 across the board. This is a place where RICE went really wrong, to begin with.

Drawbacks? Losing Confidence from RICE is a problem. Remember, in an agile environment, we know that, at best, we are making educated guesses. I believe it is important to weigh the evidence against the estimated ROI numbers.



BUC is a super simple, high-level method that could be a strong RICE contender. Each category is on a 1–10 scale. Business Benefits and User Benefits serve as sort of a broad yin and yang. A PM could have their own mini-equations behind each of these variables. Let's take a look at how this stacks up against RICE.

Reach could be accounted for in Business Benefits.

Impact could be accounted for in Business Benefits.

Confidence is missing from BUC.

Effort in RICE is replaced with Cost.

User Benefits is added in BUC.

So we lose the confidence/evidence/probability of success factor here in BUC. Something to be wary of for sure, but with the huge rise in user considerations, it could be worth it.

Monster prioritization


Monster = BRICE + Opportunity Cost + Customer Impact

I believe the intention behind Opportunity Cost is actually more of a Cost of Delay based on reading the original article. This is indeed a monster but in a good way. The author is also not super prescriptive about how each piece is measured, so there seems to be flexibility.

Comparing to RICE, this is an excellent alternative. The customer is added. Hopefully, we could broaden "business impact" to include some goals alignment for the strategic element. I could see some complexity creeping in with the Opportunity Cost bit, however.



Here's another one clearly in the RICE family and almost identical to the 5-Pillars below in terms of the assessed factors. According to the author's explanation, customer Adoption seems to be very similar to the meaning of Reach in other scores.

So again, we can see that the addition of Customer Value is a major upgrade from RICE.

5-Pillars prioritization framework


5-Pillars, BRICE, BACER, Monster are very similar. We have a straightforward formula here with 5-Pillars, though. Each of the 5 elements is rated on a scale of 1–10 then added up. The higher the score, the higher the priority. I love the emphasis on Validation — which carries a lot of the same intent of Evidence and Confidence in other scores.

Versus RICE, we see customer impact split out from the business impact. We have a much simpler formula to work with.



Now we break off from the "RICE family" with IDEA/E. We see how this scoring framework distances itself by introducing some new dimensions. The scales and calculations are straightforward — we are in good shape there.

The problem's importance is new and is not a direct substitute for business impact or customer impact.

Dissatisfaction with the current situation is new. It is a no-brainer, really.

A novel framework indeed that will help managers think more in-depth about the problems they are trying to solve and how impactful the potential solutions would be for users.

Decision Diamond

Mr Joe

The Decision Diamond emphasizes User Research in addition to the standard "Business Impact" (Business Driver) and "Data" (Evidence/Confidence). The other new factor is Gut Feel or Intuition.

The calculation is straightforward and simple that which could become a weakness with more extensive lists of items. Check out the original article to get the full scoop.

Wrap up

I hope you've seen some new angles on prioritization in this list that will inspire you to improve your processes and products. Please don't hesitate to find me and send me your thoughts or any new ideas.

Some other framework posts you may enjoy: