ICE is an acronym for Impact, Confidence and Ease. This prioritization technique was initially developed to prioritize growth experiments to prevent "the loudest in the room" winning all the time.
Given its simplicity, it gained popularity in all types of projects.
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.
How to use the ICE method
You have three metrics you need to assign for each issue. But don’t worry, it’s not going to take ages and they’re great discussion points and help you all get aligned.
Here you’re answering the question “How much does this contribute to the goal?” and assigning value 1-10 where 1 is worst and 10 is best.
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.
Think about “How confident are you that this will work?” and again assign a value from scale 1-10 where 1 is worst and 10 is best.
When answering this question, think about previous similar tasks, how impactful they were but also see what others tried and worked.
The last question is “How hard is this to implement?” on scale 1-10 where 1 is worst and 10 is best.
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.
The ICE score
The final ICE score is calculated by multiplying all metrics and you’ll end up with a score between 1 and 1000.
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.
"You don't need more time, you just need to decide." - Seth Godin
The ICE prioritization method isn't too complex and allows you to go through the prioritization process quickly and it can be used on both smaller and bigger projects. Once you have enough customer usage data you can try similar method RICE to do more accurate prioritization.