The Two Paretos In Software Development

January 22, 2021 · 1 min read
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You know the Pareto principle, right?

For many situations, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

The Pareto principle actually applies to two aspects in software development, good in one and bad in the other.

  • The easiest 80% take only 20% of our time. Happy path programming is the dangerous effect of Pareto on software development. It's one factor why software projects take longer than we think. The hard part comes later: error handling, infrastructure, logging, testing, behaviour under load, and most important: edge cases.
  • Your users achieve 80% of their outcomes with 20% of the features. This is the amazing part of Pareto. You can provide most of the value with only a handful of features. If you identify them, definitely implement and release them first. Bring your users the most amount of value in the beginning.

When thinking about reducing the time needed for a project, put more effort in finding the absolute core features your users will use. These will be enough most of the time.

A small, beautiful, and robust feature set is so much better than having a lot of features features that break all the time.