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80/20 Rule in Software Development

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80/20 Rule is a very common term for different systems. I believe most of you realized that rule while running a project or maintaining the functional job.  It is also true for software development.  I have experienced several projects where 80% tasks were done using 20 % time and effort and 20 % tasks of the project demanded 80% time and effort. If you fail to understand the combination of your project tasks then there is a higher possibility that you may fall into trouble executing the project.  To make success of the project you need to take extra care for those 20% tasks.

There are some measures that you can take to avoid unmanaged situation.

Identify the 20% critical tasks of your project

If you want to avoid the unexpected situation allocating time and effort, you need to identify carefully what are the critical tasks of your projects. Make sure if those falls into your 20 % band. Analyze and finalize the list.

Plan for the critical tasks

During planning phase, you need to make detail of those tasks. Keep some buffer time for those tasks, Try to avoid keeping those in the critical path of the project. Keep slack between tasks. If possible, assign those tasks in the early stage of the project.

Design the solution properly

Be specific and try to design the solution for critical requirement as detail as possible. Unfold the implicit requirements and incorporate those in the design.

Assign proper resource to the critical task

Identify the committed and dedicated resources to those tasks. Daily follow up might be required. Give some incentives to the resources if it can make difference.

Update stakeholders about those tasks

It is important to update project stakeholders early enough about those critical tasks. Let them understand the importance, impacts and consequences in the project. If you foresee any risk inform them and take a mitigation plan. 

Don’t do window dressing

Do not convince product owner showing the 80% tasks are done and only 20% are remaining. It may mislead your product owner; rather try to explain the true situation and let him get the clear picture; involve the owner with the fact.

Don’t let the other 80% tasks to be converted into 20% 

Keep a regular follow up on the other 80% tasks. If you failed to do that those may turns into critical task, which may become your new 20% banded tasks.

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