The Pareto Principle states that in any given situation 80% of the result is produced by 20% of the input.

The value of this principle in software development is often overlooked, but if it’s applied correctly, it can be extremely useful throughout the development process of a custom application. From the initial setup processes to the testing of the application, the Pareto Principle can be applied to effectively allocate your time, resources and money to develop a functional application.

To initiate an efficient development process you can apply the Pareto Principle to identify the critical features you will need to focus your effort and resources. The Pareto Principle indicates that roughly 20% of features of an application will satisfy the requirements of 80% of users, so by determining the critical features of your application you can focus your resources on the most important features. The Pareto Principle indicates that you do not have to please everyone to develop a successful application; rather, you need to focus on satisfying the requirements of 80% of users by focusing on the 20% of features that will help you achieve that success. As such, it is not practical to attempt to build an application that will meet the requirements of all your users and doing so will only lead to frustration and an incomplete final product. Similarly, 20% of the effort the development team puts in will result in 80% of the successful features.   

Another way in the Pareto principle can be useful is in dealing with the negative feedback on your custom application. When implementing a new feature in your application you will often receive negative feedback from a certain percentage of your user base, and it can be difficult to deal with it after you have dedicated a great amount time and effort into implementing a new feature. However, by applying the Pareto Principle you will observe that roughly 20% of your user base may complain about the new features you implement and around 80% of users will be completely satisfied with your product. As such, it is more important to focus on keeping the majority of your users satisfied rather than attempting to meet the requirements of a small segment of your users.  

It is pivotal  to understand that you cannot resolve a 100% of the support calls you receive since many of the issues encountered by a small section of your users will be time consuming and difficult to resolve. Applying the Pareto Principle in managing customer support calls will enable you to sort out issues encountered by 80% of your user base, which in turn will save you time and resources that can use on more important processes. The remaining 20% of users can be dealt with once you have spare time and resources that are not required in other critical areas of the development process.

If you find that you are behind schedule and the development process seems inefficient, then the Pareto Principle can be applied to regain your focus on the 20% of features that will have the greatest impact on the success of your application. Of course, to effectively apply the Pareto Principle to determine which features you need to focus on you must identify the complexity of each feature and prioritise the features in an easily readable format. Not only will this allow you to keep track of your progress but it will also allow you to shift your focus on the important features that require most of your resources.

Understanding the importance of utilising the Pareto Principle in custom application development will enable you to produce an effective project plan that will make the most efficient use of your time and resources. It is also important to keep it simple; the Pareto Principle states that 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of the results, so by simply applying this phenomenon to your processes you can ensure that your custom application development project will be a success.


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