How to Reduce the Cost and Time of Software Development – Rethinking the 80/20 Rule

The software development process was never this seamless and cost-saving experience. We discovered that one could significantly reduce custom app development costs and time by following some simple strategies.


Have you ever experimented Pareto Principle before in your custom software development project? Though research proves the implication of principle in software development, most project managers fail to fetch real results from it. Let’s understand why?

Vilfredo Pareto is an Italian economist known for his unequal distribution theory derived from the land ownership ratio in Italy. Pareto Principal states that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. Or in other words, the least (20%) efforts bring the majority (80%) of outcomes. Hence this principle is known as the 80/20 Rule.

Many industries successfully experienced this rule as a ‘universal truth” in their fields. The same is seen in the software development industry as well. Below are some conclusions for software development that Pareto’s observation drove –

  • 80% of crashes are caused by 20% of coding bugs.
  • 80% of projects are completed in 20% to time and budget.
  • 80% of users only use 20% of features.
  • 20% of customers drive 80% of conversions.

These conclusions are valid. However, software development teams almost forget every theory has some assumptions and pitfalls. Let’s rethink those assumptions to figure out how applying the 80/20 rule can help cut software development efforts while generating lucrative outcomes.

# The correct approach to MVP helps in gathering valuable feedback

MVP can accelerate software development time and reduce downsides when working on large projects. MVP softwares are tested on genuine users whose feedback helps streamline future development.

As per the rule, 80% of users only use 20% of features. When elaborated, Standish Research found data below –

illustrating different needs of an audio player

Instead of knowing this, most product managers insist on over-adding features to the app from the very initial sprints. This lessens the primary purpose of MVP, which is to gather user feedback on the maximum usage of the application. Hire a dedicated software development company that knows how to develop potential MVPs.

Following the rule, software developers can build MVPs focusing on the most potential app features. Gathering valuable insights on these features can allow you to improve them, preventing the product from flopping upon launch.

Even after the MVP stage, each additional feature must be tested on users at the beginning of a new sprint. This helps save time from improving features that have no impact.


When 20% of features are only used, why are the other 80% even developed? 

Not all features can be neglected entirely, even if it’s hardly used. Some are part of the essential components that any custom app of a category must have. Rank app features development in different sprints according to their use instead of limiting to just basic features. This allows you to dedicate time & effort to the right use cases first.

# Design strategy and prototyping can deeply underestimate coding time

Design thinking and UI creation are often overseen in software development. Despite the fact that most successful apps are the ones that have easy UI/UX and a quick learning curve.

20% of coding can result in 80% of software changes. That’s why constant modifications at the programming stage can impact overall app performance. And give undue rise to development costs. Wireframing and prototyping can save software developers a lot of time and energy as design-related changes & doubts could be solved before starting code.

Client feedback –
Prototyping mimics how actual software will feel and work— using which, clients can inscribe early conclusions about whether the team can meet their expectations. Also, testing custom app prototypes with real users helps note cognitive judgments on improving the application to attract more users post-launch.

Project Insights –
Using clickable prototypes, clients can gather better insights – based on simulation rather than just reading product documentation. Insights lead to a better discussion on current failures, future iterations and deadlines. This is how the team can solve possible UI-related issues with a quick turnaround — saving resources for other critical software development points.

# Prioritize and rank application testing areas

Managers often keep all issues on the same ground when testing custom apps. This wastes too much crucial time and energy on the least priority areas that may not make much improvement in an application.

Most of those issues found by QA are from use cases that are never/rarely used. Developers spend time fixing these issues without knowing if they impact user experience. Also, constant attention to these bugs shifts their focus from top-used features that could be enhanced if they dedicated more time.


If 20% of coding problems can cause 80% of crashes. How to locate this 20% of bugs? 

Agile software testing requires rapid iteration on problems caused in most mild coding areas. This code drives widely used features. Hence Bugs in this 20% area that impact user experience must be focussed right after each sprint.

The project manager must set the order to address these bugs. Moreover, priority use cases must be constantly checked before further production. This helps the manager lay down the correct software development path and saves the team from significant pitfalls that may need redoing the project.

# 80% of the app is NOT developed in 20% of the time and budget

This is the major aspect where the application of the Pareto Principle fails in software development. Pareto’s 80/20 rule was based on observation and not a proven law. Hence stretching it to each element is not reasonable.

Saying 80% of work is completed in the first 20% of time alludes to the other 20% of work taking too much time, which is not true.

As discussed, user research and design strategy can reduce future costs and time. But even after great prototyping and workflows – assuming development, testing, and re-coding as 20% of work is incorrect. These are also high-priority work and require time and money.

Widely used features demand less development time than add-on features and corner cases. Hence you don’t need more time and resources to develop only the most used app features (20%).


If 100% work takes 100% time, how to reduce software development time and cost without sacrificing quality?

Instead of interpreting Pareto Principle as “80% work done in 20% of the time”, – think of it as “20% time in planning can reduce 80% of efforts”. Lowering efforts corresponds to how much work requires. And If work is reduced, you don’t need extra time and money to develop quality-centric software.

illustrating audio player working on different screens

# Select a suitable tech stack to build custom apps that drive more conversions

Leveraging fast development technologies and frameworks can help build custom apps faster. For building high-converting applications, teams need to choose the correct development approach. And for that, you must carry out effective R&D for software development of different projects.

SDLC (Software Development Life cycle) –

Understanding different audiences and unique motives behind every project help streamline workflows that can generate results with minimum downside and fast iterations. This concludes 20% of initial time to audience research can help build desired software for the right audience. Therefore, reducing the risk of flopping by 80%.


When only 20% of users drive maximum (80%) sales, should software landing pages be built for this minority traffic? 

Bifurcation of this split is not possible. At an early, marketers need help figuring out which part of their audience will eventually convert more. This 20% of users are your potential leads and regular visitors that can contribute to revenues when nurtured properly. However, app landing pages must be built for the majority audience to attract and convert all.

Key Takeaways

Pareto Principle could be helpful in improving custom apps and software development. It becomes a guide on how to allocate resources effectively. The correct implication of the Pareto Rule helps the team perform better and achieve productive outputs. However, external influences like tech improvements and shifts in client expectations sometimes affect the implementation of rules.

Below are key takeaways from the article to accelerate the software development process-

  1. Prioritize developing and testing app features based on their impact. (Most used features must be designed and tested first)
  2. Prototyping helps you comprehend how the app feels and work so that you can test UI before actual development.
  3. Clear communication can reduce costly software development changes.
  4. Pareto’s 80/20 rule is merely an observation and not a law.
  5. Focusing on robust strategies can reduce software development work. Hence helps in fast and cost-effective product deliveries.

We at HB Websol use an agile approach to complete your software projects, keeping costs and deadlines within reason. Our blend of skilled talent and battle-tested processes ensures on-demand deliveries of highly efficient custom apps. Approach us to hire the best developers for your custom software development projects.

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