ICE Scoring – What does confidence mean?
February 20, 2019
February 20, 2019
One of the most complicated parts of the ICE scoring model is the confidence factor and we see over and over that product managers trying to adopt the model, struggle with defining what confidence means within their product features. The other parts of the ICE Score, Impact and Ease tend to be more obvious concept to grasp and then how you implement the variables requires more thought as it relates to your organization however the confidence factor within ICE has left many product managers struggling to get their arms around what that means to have confidence in your feature backlog item.
Confidence in your product feature serves as a balance of your overall ICE score. Confidence really comes down to managing the unknowns of your product feature sizing’s. For example, if you are looking at a one line write up of a request of a feature with no supporting details or information, how confident are you that your understanding of the request, the dependencies it has, the design and cost is something you can state with confidence you know or have a good understanding of. If you do, then you have high confidence. If you are unsure of the details of the feature, unsure of the costs, dependencies, design, or you require help from other teams or partners which are out of your control, you would have a low confidence as a product manager in your ability to properly size the feature.
When you are working on defining your scale of the ICE scoring model for confidence within your organization here are factors you should consider:
- Details: How much information do you have on the request? How much do you fully understand the changes needed to implement the solution and the expected impacts/ease associated with it.
- Dependencies: Is the feature something you can complete 100% within your existing resources including team, money, equipment, etc. If not, how confident are you the resources you need will be available for the feature to be successful.
- Risk: Is the feature within an area of your product that once changed can have cascading impacts to other areas of your product and become a bigger project or a hot bed for issues? How much risk are you managing with this feature?
- Data points / feedback: For the feature you are sizing, how much of the understanding is from “gut feeling” vs supported by customer feedback or data points to help you be more confident that the feature will result in the expected outcome?
As product managers we love to find features that lead to a big impact for our business and we know the concept of impact as often it ties closely to business metrics we measure. Ease, on the other hand, is something we are very well aware of as it works against our ability to complete more as it is often tied to cost and labor to complete the feature. Confidence, is your balance on those items in that it lets you balance your expectations on how likely the feature will result in the expected impact and take the effort you expected based on the information you have or the number of dependence and unknowns associated with the effort.
As with all of the factors, your team would need to agree on the 1 through 10 scale on how to assign weights and an overall scoring system for example where a 1 score is high risk, many unknowns and no supporting evidence about the feature and a 10 is a mitigated risk project with customer and data points backing the feature success. There are a number of smaller scores between the two and your team would need to agree on what dictates each level based on various degrees of information.
Again the ICE scoring model is a great and simple way to quickly rank your feature backlog and compare it to see which changes you should be working on. The process takes a small effort upfront as an organization to review and define the values but from there it makes it a quick way to get your team on the same page for what you decide to work on next.