How to make impactful things

The best ideas on prioritization and decisions on what to do next.

ICE Score Framework

What a priority matrix is

A priority matrix is a management tool for determining the development vector where priorities are visually divided into four (or more) quadrants.

There are matrices for personal time management and complex business projects. Most of them have derived from the Eisenhower matrix created to manage personal tasks.

A prioritized backlog visually divided into 2x2 matrix in Ducalis.io

When to use a priority matrix

Use an action priority matrix when you have limited resources and you want to distribute them rationally to maximize performance and ROI.

Placing backlog tasks into four quadrants will help you visualize their impact on the main business objectives. Focus the team efforts on one of the four quadrants to have a clear understanding of where you’re heading, what results, and when to expect.

How the quadrants work

One of the most efficient and easy to use is the 2x2 matrix. It consists of two evaluation criteria: one positive (e.g., Value, Impact, or Revenue) and one negative(e.g., Effort, Costs, or Risk).

Tasks evaluated by the criteria are divided into four quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1—high positive score and low negative score.
    This quadrant is often called Quick Wins, and its tasks are low-hanging fruit that will bring you positive results immediately. Most likely, you should do these tasks first.
  • Quadrant 2—high positive score and high negative score.
    Here are your Major Projects that won’t bring immediate results but are strategically valuable and should be considered on your roadmap.
  • Quadrant 3—low positive score and low negative score.
    These are so-called Fill-Ins—cheap solutions with no significant impact. These tasks should be further discussed and implemented only when you have extra resources.
  • Quadrant 4—low positive score and high negative score.
    These are Thankless Tasks. They bring little to no value and cost you a lot. Delete them or reconsider the solution to become more valuable.

How to create and use a priority matrix

1. Think of what is currently important to your business to come up with appropriate criteria.

Do you have deadlines, and time is critical? Or you must avoid risks at all costs?

Two criteria are enough for a fast and simple prioritization. Yet, they aren’t enough for complex projects where you must consider and juggle multiple stages of user behavior or business objectives. We in Ducalis.io estimate all the vital elements for our product and just filter the matrix by the criteria we need more focus on at some point in time.

We hide some criteria to consider tasks influencing only the objective important now.

2. Decide on the score range.

What numbers will your team use when estimating the criteria?

Each criterion should be evaluated by the same numbers with prescribed interpretation. We use numbers from 0 to 3 where 0—no impact, 1—low impact, 2—medium impact, 3—high impact.

We use criteria tooltips so that we don't have to keep in mind what they and the scores mean.

3. Estimate all the necessary tasks together with the team.

Who takes part in the project and can bring a unique perspective to the table? Does the project require only engineers or designers and copywriters’ efforts as well?

Considering each task by the whole team strengthens your shared understanding and gives the best prioritization results. In our team, managers evaluate feature Reach and Revenue, engineers and UX/UI—Development Time, and everybody must estimate Activation, Retention, and two product-specific criteria, Speed and Collaboration.

Most of the criteria we evaluate together to keep our shared understanding solid, and specific ones we leave to experts.

4. Study and discuss the prioritization results.

Why have these features made it to the top? Do you all agree they are most valuable now and must be implemented?

Never take the prioritization result into work unquestioningly. Prioritization is a tool to help you make the right decisions and not make them instead of you. Discuss your top priorities with the team at the planning meeting and make sure you all understand what must be done, why this way, and why it’s important.

To Sum Up

A priority matrix is simple and efficient. You can make it far more powerful by using automation tools. Ducalis.io allows you to create a complex prioritization framework you can use both as a weighted decision matrix and action priority matrix and switch the criteria focus in no time.

Try our matrix templates. Free to sign up and free to use. No credit cards. Just jump in and prioritize for your growth.

In the article we discuss what is ICE score prioritization framework, what's good and what's bad about it, and how to fix the bad.

ICE Score Prioritization Framework Definition

  • stands for Impact, Confidence, Ease
  • is used to evaluate projects, features, marketing initiatives
  • is used for rapid growth with limited resources

Impact

Impact ranks your tickets by the influence they have on the overall product promotion or a single objective. It's better to identify what exactly you want your team's efforts to impact and stick to the Impact definition through all the tickets. You shouldn't evaluate Job A as impacting the Activation, and Job B - Retention. Such prioritization will scatter your team's efforts, moving the desirable results far away.

Answers the question: How impactful is this solution to our objective?

Originally measured: Number range from 1 to 10.

Confidence

Confidence score is used to support or skepticize the Impact and Ease estimates. This criterion helps to control the emotionality and subjectiveness of the prioritization. We all tend to assign bigger scores to ideas we want to be developed. High Confidence scores mean you have enough data to prove your estimates.

Answers the question: How sure am I in my Impact and Ease scores? How sure am I this works as expected?

Originally measured: Number range from 1 to 10.

Ease

Ease ranks the tickets by the cheapness of the implementation. Unlike most other frameworks that usually estimate the negativity of efforts, ICE looks at the same idea from the other side. As such, the easier and simpler the job is, the higher scores it receives.

Answers the question: How easy is this solution to develop and launch? How fast can we get the results?

Originally measured: Number range from 1 to 10.

How to calculate

  • Add up Impact, Confidence, Ease
  • Divide the sum by 3

Drawbacks and Cures

In 100% of cases, ICE is criticized for its subjectiveness—the priorities can be easily manipulated by such scoring, and different people will score criteria differently.

First, any framework can be manipulated if needed. There is nothing special about ICE. The question is, why even starting the prioritization if you still want to make the world revolve around your humble opinion?

Second, the story about different people estimating all the tickets differently can be turned into a powerful weapon if you let them all evaluate the initiatives how they think is appropriate.
According to multiple studies, the average guess of a group of people is astonishingly accurate. So just aggregate their scores and calculate the average.
This may sound difficult, but it is super simple with automation tools. Ducalis, for example, will do everything for you. You don't even need to video chat with your teammates. Open the browser tab, put the scores, pet the cat while your colleagues do the same. After all the scores are assigned, open the Top Priorities—your astonishingly accurate ticket ranking is ready.

What we do consider as a drawback are the numbers you actually use for estimation. The range from 1 to 10 is too precise. How on Earth can you decide if the initiative will impact the objective by 6 or by 7?
Such estimation will take you too much time on redundant doubts, and the ticket rankings will never become solid and systematic.
For this, we've changed 1-10 range for the Fibonacci sequence. It is much easier to decide if it's a 5 or 8 impact.

→Try ICE template for feature prioritization

→Try ICE template for marketing prioritization

Another point is both a pro and a con. ICE score framework is super simple. It allows you to start prioritization immediately. The estimation itself will be fast, and you will have the list of quick wins in no time.
ICE is perfect when you need rapid growth at the start. But in the long run, it is oversimplified and may make things worse for complex products.

Don't hesitate to start with ICE. Just customize it over time by adding your unique criteria to consider multiple key factors.

ICE

Evaluate each task with 1—10 scale for prioritizing initiatives.

  • Impact: Moves a user across the AARRR funnel.
    Scored: 1—minimal impact; 10—massive impact.
  • Confidence: Conviction warranting the feature build out.
    Scored: 1—not sure it works; 10—must work out.
  • Ease: Work required for the feature delivery.
    Scored: 1—26 weeks+; 10—< 1 week.

Total Score = (Impact + Confidence + Ease) / 3

ICE Feature Prioritization

ICE
Features
All

Feature prioritization based on the objective impact and team efforts.

ICE Marketing Prioritization

ICE
Marketing
All

Marketing activities prioritization based on the objective impact and team efforts.

Read about other useful prioritization techniques