Engineering, Product management

ICE Scoring Model

Prioritize features and ideas by assigning numerical values based on their relative value, using three parameters: Impact, Confidence, and Ease.

Also called: ICE Score, ICE Rating, ICE Evaluation, ICE Assessment, and ICE Analysis

See also: Return on Time Invested, RICE Scoring Model, MoSCoW Prioritization, Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

Relevant metrics: Customer Satisfaction, User Engagement, Conversion Rate, Retention Rate, Development time, and Time to market

In this article

How to calculate ICE Scoring Model:

ICE = Impact * Confidence * Ease

What is ICE Scoring Model

The ICE Scoring Model is a tool used in Product Management and User Experience to evaluate the potential success of a product or feature. It stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease, and is used to assign a numerical score to each of these three criteria. Impact is a measure of how much the product or feature will affect the user experience, Confidence is a measure of how confident the team is in the success of the product or feature, and Ease is a measure of how easy it is to implement the product or feature. The scores are then combined to give an overall score for the product or feature. This score can then be used to determine the priority of the product or feature in the development process.

Where did ICE Scoring Model come from?

The ICE feature scoring model was popularized by Sean Ellis, the founder of, and Morgan Brown, a startup advisor and author. They introduced the model in their book “Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success.”

It was first developed by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in the early 2000s. The acronym stands for “Impact, Confidence, and Ease” and is used to measure the effectiveness of customer experience initiatives. The model is based on the idea that customer experience initiatives should be evaluated based on their ability to create an impact, build confidence, and make it easier for customers to do business with a company. The model has been widely adopted by companies in various industries and is used to measure the success of customer experience initiatives.

Understanding the ICE Scoring Model

The ICE scoring model is one of the many prioritization strategies available for choosing the right/next features for a product.

The ICE Scoring Model is a robust framework that helps to prioritize features and ideas by multiplying three numerical values assigned to each project. These three values are Impact, Confidence, and Ease. Each item is evaluated based on these three values, and the product of the rankings is known as the item’s ICE Score.

  • Impact. This value measures how much the project will move the needle on the key metric being targeted.
  • Confidence. Assessment of the certainty that the project will actually have the predicted impact.
  • Ease. The level of effort required to complete the project.

he ICE Scoring Model is a powerful tool for prioritizing product features. By evaluating each item based on its Impact, Confidence, and Ease, and multiplying these values to arrive at the ICE Score, you can quickly and efficiently prioritize features.

For example, let’s consider Item One, which has an Impact of seven, a Confidence of six, and an Ease of five. On the other hand, Item Two has an Impact of nine, a Confidence of seven, and an Ease of two. By multiplying these values, the ICE Scores for Item One and Item Two would be 210 and 126, respectively.

Comparing the ICE scores of various items can be done with ease, and the item with the highest score gets the top slot in the prioritization hierarchy. However, it’s crucial to note that all three elements of the equation are treated equally, unlike a weighted scoring model. Thus, it’s possible that a feature with a lower ICE score may be prioritized over a feature with a higher score, depending on the specific needs of the product.

TWhile this model may not be perfect for every situation, it can certainly help teams make informed decisions about which features to prioritize and invest in.

The Simplicity and Speed of ICE Scoring

ICE Scoring is quicker and easier than most other scoring models, making it an excellent choice for fast-paced and iterative growth hacking experiments. The calculation of the ICE score is straightforward, and there are only three elements in the equation, making it more straightforward than other models, such as the RICE model, which has four elements in the formula. The speed and simplicity of ICE Scoring make it an excellent choice for relative prioritization, helping teams pick a winner when considering a few contenders.

Subjectivity and Inconsistency of ICE Scoring

Despite its speed and simplicity, ICE Scoring is far less rigorous than other scoring models, and there is a high level of variability in any item’s ICE score, depending on who’s doing the scoring. ICE Scoring is a “good enough” estimation, making it a less than perfect method for prioritizing an entire product roadmap. Additionally, ICE Scoring is almost entirely subjective, making it prone to subjective biases, which can lead to inconsistent assessments by various team members. This means that two people can assign different values to the attributes of different ideas, resulting in contrasting opinions.

Ease of Use and Consistency

One of the significant benefits of ICE Scoring is its ease of use. However, relatively few people in an organization will have enough information to accurately predict all three elements of the equation. Impact and Confidence fall under the business domain, while Ease falls under the technical domain, making it challenging for decision-makers to guesstimate development timelines. Engaging product development to provide an Ease ranking for every item being considered in a scoring exercise is one way to limit the subjectivity to areas where the scorers should have a stronger body of knowledge.

It’s also essential to have a consistent definition of the 1-10 scale for ranking each of the ICE elements. This will ensure that all team members have a shared understanding of the scoring system and will lead to more consistent assessments. Therefore, it’s important to reach an agreement on what a confidence of “7” means before starting the scoring process.

Well suited for pre-work

ICE Scoring has its merits, but it’s not a perfect method for prioritizing an entire product roadmap. However, it’s well-suited for pre-work or taking advantage of a particular opportunity. When used correctly, ICE Scoring can help teams rapidly calculate the ICE score for everything and make informed decisions on what to prioritize. To make the most of ICE Scoring, it’s crucial to ensure consistency in the scoring system, engage product development for Ease ranking, and limit the subjectivity to areas where the scorers have a stronger body of knowledge.

Do not put all your trust into the ICE scoring model

The ICE scoring model is a valuable tool for product teams because it requires the consideration of three key criteria: Impact, Confidence, and Ease. By evaluating each idea against these factors, teams are forced to have a more objective and data-driven approach to prioritization. This helps to prevent subjective opinions or the loudest voice in the room from dominating the decision-making process.

However, it’s important to recognize that the ICE scoring model is not a universal truth. As our understanding of impact and confidence changes over time, so too can the prioritization of features and initiatives. For example, a feature that initially appears easy to implement may end up being more complicated than expected once the team starts implementing it.

Therefore, the ICE scoring model is best used as a means of forcing healthy discussion within the product team. Rather than relying solely on the scores, teams should engage in open and honest discussion about the relative merits of each idea. This allows for readjustment and refinement of scores based on new information and insights.

Ultimately, the ICE scoring model should be used as a starting point for discussion and decision-making, rather than as a rigid and inflexible tool. By incorporating team discussion and gut instincts alongside the scoring model, product teams can arrive at a more nuanced and informed prioritization strategy.



Airbnb used the ICE model to prioritize features that would increase user trust and improve the booking experience. By focusing on these high-impact, high-confidence features, Airbnb was able to create a more user-friendly platform and attract more hosts and guests.


Dropbox used the ICE model to identify and prioritize features that would increase user engagement and retention. By focusing on the features with the highest ICE scores, Dropbox was able to achieve significant growth and became one of the most successful startups of its time.

Relevant questions to ask
  • What is the purpose of the ICE Scoring Model?
    Hint The purpose of the ICE Scoring Model is to provide a risk assessment score for individuals based on their criminal history, demographic information, and other factors.
  • What data will be used to calculate the ICE feature score?
    Hint Impact, Confidence, and Ease. Impact is how much the feature will impact the product, users, or business. Confidence is how confident the development team is in their ability to implement the feature successfully and whether it will move the needle for the customer and the business. Ease how easy or difficult it will be to implement the feature.
  • How will the score be used?
    Hint The ICE score is typically used to prioritize features in the product development process. The features with the highest ICE score are given higher priority and are more likely to be implemented first.
  • What are the potential risks associated with using the ICE feature scoring model?
    Hint The main risks are: Over-reliance on data, bias in data and assumptions, simplification of decision-making, and the fact that the world changes rapidly. The assumptions we hold today might not be either true or relevant tomorrow.
People who talk about the topic of ICE Scoring Model on Twitter
Relevant books on the topic of ICE Scoring Model
  • Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success. by Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown (2017)
  • Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster. by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz (2013)
  • The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen (2015)
  • Product Management in Practice: A Real-World Guide to the Key Connective Role of the 21st Century by Matt LeMay (2017)

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