ICE is an acronym for Impact, Confidence and Ease. This prioritization technique was initially developed to prioritize growth experiments but given its simplicity, it gained popularity in all types of projects.

The ICE method is especially useful when building new products, MVPs or even prioritizing feature requests, marketing or sales activities. In contrast to the related framework RICE, you don’t need to have access to the product usage or customer behaviour data when prioritizing.

ICE Prioritization Technique video tutorial

How to use the ICE framework

You have three metrics you need to assign for each issue - Impact, Confidence and Ease. But don’t worry, it’s not going to take a long time and they’re great discussion points and helps create alignment.

The ICE Prioritization method cheatsheet
The ICE Prioritization method cheatsheet

Impact

When assigning Impact we are answering a question “How much does this contribute to the goal?” The goal, in this case, is anything you’re trying to achieve.

For example increasing customer retention, getting more customers, increasing the authority of your website, etc.

Choose one of the following options:

  • 1 for No Impact,
  • 3 for Very low Impact,
  • 4 for Low Impact,
  • 6 for Medium Impact,
  • 8 for Hight Impact,
  • 10 for Very high Impact.

Confidence

To assign Confidence, think about “How confident are you that this will work?”.

When answering this question, think about previous similar tasks, how impactful they were but also see what others tried and worked.

Choose one of the following options:

  • 1 for No Confidence,
  • 3 for Very low Confidence,
  • 4 for Low Confidence,
  • 6 for Medium Confidence,
  • 8 for Hight Confidence,
  • 10 for Very high Confidence.

Ease

The last metric to assign is Ease, when assigning this one, ask this question: “How hard is this to implement?”.

In software development, it’s often easy to misinterpret this and think only about the development effort. But coding is not the only thing you do to deliver features. Make sure you think about the task as a whole, how difficult it is for all parties involved.

For example, redesigning the navigation menu in your app can be small from a coding perspective but it will take a long time to design and maybe even longer to update the documentation.

Choose one of the following options:

  • 1 for Extremely hard,
  • 3 for Hard,
  • 5 for Medium,
  • 7 for Easy,
  • 10 for Very easy.

The ICE score

The final ICE score is calculated by multiplying Impact, Confidence and Ease and you’ll end up with a score between 1 and 1000. Higher the ICE score higher in priority the task is.

Formula for ICE score calculation used in the ICE prioritization technique
Formula for ICE score calculation

You can also visualize priorities on the Priority matrix. Use Impact on Horizontal and Ease on vertical axes to get a good understanding of what are the quick wins or the ones that don’t bring that much value and are very difficult to do.

The ICE prioritization method for backlog management

The ICE prioritization method isn't too complex and allows you to go through the prioritization process quickly. It can also be used on both smaller and bigger projects of any type - from marketing to sales, development and product.

However, once you have enough customer usage data it might be a good idea to switch similar prioritization method RICE that brings more accurate prioritization.

"You don't need more time, you just need to decide." - Seth Godin

ICE FAQ

What is ICE method?

ICE method is one of the prioritization techniques used for prioritizing work backlog. ICE is an acronym for Impact, Confidence and Ease.

When to use ICE prioritization framework?

ICE prioritization framework was initially developed to prioritize growth experiments but given its simplicity, it gained popularity in all types of projects. It’s commonly used to prioritize ideas, MVPs, feature requests, marketing or sales activities.

How to calculate ICE score?

First assign values to all three key metrics for each issue - Impact, Confidence and Ease.

Then you can calculate the score with following formula: ICE score = Impact * Confidence * Ease.