How to Apply Pareto Principle in Software Application Development

The Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule was a principle put forward by the Italian economist Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto. Simply put it says that 80% of results will come from just 20% of the action. It is a widely accepted principle applied in every field of life.

Seems to be a great idea, but how practical can it be when it comes to the IT industry.

Let’s go in depth to see the real benefits of applying this principle in software engineering.

Pareto Principle in Software Development

Studies show that users predominantly use only 20% of an app’s features while they never use 45% of the app features and 19% are rarely used. To sum it up, we can say that the real benefits are from the 20% of the app’s features and hence focus should be on improving the core functionalities. The remaining 80% of the features act as additional perks for more advanced users. 

The Pareto principle helps to improve the overall software development process throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).  This discovery has heavily influenced the agile management model, where 80% of the team’s efforts are focused on what is crucial and essential at any stage of the product’s development.

The 80/20 rule in Agile is a flexible solution that improves the development process to be more efficient and secure. It helps in restricting the process to most important actions and thereby choosing the most appropriate approach to organize the development process. In such situations, the time spent on the most important functionalities will take only 80%, while the remaining 20% will be used to refine the rest of the additional features.

Minimum Viable Product and the Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle is ideal for planning the basic idea of a future software project. The Minimum Viable Product can offer a picture of how we can minimize the expected resources for software development, meanwhile understand what really matters to the end-user, before the app goes live. Thus it enables us to closely examine the fundamental needs of the target audience in the initial stages of the software development, while all further upgradation or additional features (80%) will be introduced after the initial feedback analysis.    

One of the main advantages offered by MVP is the opportunity to listen to the clients earnestly. They provide actual data analysis, not just based on hypothesis which will prompt you to search practical business solutions. Besides, you can define what exactly constitutes the 20% and what can be done away with. The performance and development will not be hindered in any way; rather it will only be beneficial.

Pareto Principle in Testing

Pareto principle, can also be applied to software testing. The 80/20 rules make it possible to understand and assess the risks of software development thereby avoiding unanticipated expenses and ensuring the smooth working during later stages of development.

Code quality has a crucial role to play in the successful development of software. By applying the 80/20 rule in practice, it is apparent that 80% of the errors and crashes arises from the 20% of the most frequent bugs. So that, it is essential to focus on this 20% to ensure timely elimination.

To protect the project from unexpected challenges, recognize the most frequent bugs and where they come from. By working on the causes that have the highest impact on the functionality, the team’s efforts are directed to areas with maximum returns. Thereby saving energy, time as well as money.  

Pareto Analysis

Pareto Analysis is a statistical technique in decision-making used for the selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect.

Here are eight steps to identifying the essential tasks you should focus on, using Pareto Analysis:

  1. Create
    a vertical bar chart with causes on the x-axis and number of defects on the
  2. Arrange
    the bar chart in descending order of cause importance
  3. Calculate
    the cumulative count for each cause in descending order.
  4. Calculate
    the cumulative count percentage for each cause in descending order. Percentage
    calculation: (Individual Cause Count) / (Total Causes Count)*100
  5. Create
    a second y-axis with percentages descending in increments of 10 from 100% to
  6. Plot
    the percentage cumulative contribution of each cause on the x-axis.
  7. Join
    the points to form a curve.
  8. Draw
    a line at 80% on the y-axis running parallel to the x-axis. Then drop the line
    at the point of intersection with the curve on the x-axis. This point on the
    x-axis separates the important causes on the left (vital few) from the less
    important causes on the right (trivial many).

Sample Case:

Project: Carrefour Intelli planner

This project is an order support and product estimate system to replenish supplies in their stores located in UAE. Carrefour has 33 Hypermarket stores in UAE. The scope of the application includes management of the following divisions within each store

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Butchery
  • Bakery

This is a Sample 26 test cases from the Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) module

LG-Logic   ML-Message Link   OT-Others   DG-Design   EH-Error Handling   UI- User Interface

80/20 Rule and Business Strategy

The Pareto principle becomes valuable while planning business strategy. This can help reduce the number of risks associated with many problem areas that can hinder the smooth execution of the software development process and its testing. To conclude, the Pareto principle is the ideal tool that can qualitatively improve the level of efficiency for the software development process. By employing this principle, it’s easier to evaluate the strengths of your application, to identify areas for improvement and thus enhancing the business value of your software product.

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