Friday, 23 January 2015

The 80:20 rule

My degree involved an awful lot of coding and development, and the inevitable hours of related bug fixing and QA in order to complete a coursework in time. It was there that I first learned the 80:20 rule.

In any project, 80% of the work requires 20% of the effort.

Back then, the first burst of coding required to get something approximately right took about 20% of the effort. The QA; that long hard slog to the deadline, knowing that despite all your efforts it was highly unlikely you would ever achieve a bug free project and at 3 am deciding that as it had compiled, surely that was good enough? - That was the 80% of effort required.

I use that phrase rather flippantly nowadays and it seems that outside of programming the 80:20 rule is very different. However, these last few weeks as projects are altering and growing, I've become more and more aware of just how much that rule applies to *every* aspect of my job.

This week I have been writing a report which is crazy big. *Unbelievably* crazy big. It is actually a collection of mini reports on a variety of projects I'm running and the rule most definitely applied.

The first 20 or so pages were copies of data, interspersed with updates and feedback points. It came together really easily and I, foolishly, was delighted and thought "This won't be so hard after all!"

Of course, those were the data sets and responses that were easy to gather and interpret. Initially I had thought I was randomly selecting projects, whereas in fact I was starting with the ones I had most data on, or closest relationships with the people involved.

Suddenly it became a lot harder, and I had less time.

And of course, as is the nature of anything that follows the trend of an exponential growth chart, I don't think I'm ever going to finish.