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80-20 Rule: 80 percent of Product Features Are Never Used

The 80-20 rule is alive and well with software and the internet. It has been documented for at least a decade that about 80% of requested features for most products are never used. Keeping in mind this valuable rule of thumb, you can save time and money with your internet and product development projects. Read how to the use the the Pareto Principle to your advantage.

You have likely experienced this in your life: 80% of the effect, comes from 20% of the cause. This rule of thumb, the Pareto Principle, is named for the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of its inhabitants.

The Pareto Principle has wide application in business, computering, software development, and product design. For example, most companies realize 80% of their revenue from 20% of their customers. You will get 80% of your web traffic from only 20% of your keywords. In software development as well, 80% of the features that customers request, they never use. Have you noticed that you don't use most of the features in Word or on your iPhone? (Power user excepted.)

80-20 for Enterprise Software

The Standish Group, an information technology consulting firm has documented year after year the breakdown of features requested in enterprise software and those that customers actually use. The 80-20 is at work again.

Focusing on the key 20% of what customers want can save your organization time and money, not to mention headache and heartache.

The Scrum framework for agile software development can assist in helping your organization focus on that meaningful 20%. In scrum you fix the time and budget of a project, but allow the features and functionality to be modified. At the end of the project, you finish on time and on budget with those features that are most desired.

Ideally you will have a team that is experienced in scrum, including a scrum master, product owner, and team players. Together take the following steps.

1. Write clear user stories. "As a [role] I can [function] so that [rationale]."

2. Validate the user stories through testing and analytics.

3. Use evidenced-based approaches, not intuition, to prioritise features.

4. Product owner prioritizes the features based upon the test and validated user stories.

 

 
 
 

Kommentarer: 1

Hello,

Would you know the reference to the Standish Group study you are referring to. I've looked on the web and found many quotes but none give the reference to that study.

Thank you.

Skrevet af Pascal 11. oktober, 2010 kl. 19:52

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