The Pareto Principle for Projects

One thing I find too often is people trying to throw in everything plus the kitchen sink when working on a project deliverable. I have always been a strong believer of Pareto's Principle which states that 20% of the methods will produce 80% of the results. How can we apply
So how can we apply this to project management? Let us use an example of a project where you need to deliver one product with 100 features. For the sake of simplicity we will assume each feature takes an equal amount of time to build. Using the principle, 20 of those features will provide 80% of what the customer will need the most. So, to get the most out of your finite time you will want to figure out what those 20 features are. Prioritize Features
The first thing you need to do is have the customer prioritize the features by importance. People will usually use a ranking system with 3-5 levels of importance. Once you know what the most important features, to the customer, are you use knowledge plus any dependencies to build a high level milestones of deliverables where you focus on high impact features first. Deliver in Stages
Now, plan the project in a way where you deliver the product in stages or releases. The great thing about this is if you do run out of time or money, chances are you have already delivered 80% of what the customer needed. Where is does not always work
This method does not always work. A classic example is building a bridge where 20% of the work is not going to get you a whole lot. And you are not going to able to deliver a scaled down bridge on the first pass. You also have a very high up front sunk cost which you lose if you have to rebuild.  To conclude, always prioritize your scope and focus on the biggest bang for the buck first.

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