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
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
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
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
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
2. Validate the user stories through testing and analytics.
3. Use evidenced-based approaches, not intuition, to prioritise
4. Product owner prioritizes the features based upon the test
and validated user stories.