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The 80/20 rule and software development

The 80/20 Rule is golden: Focus on your 20% and let those whose expertise is the other 80% take the reins.

If you’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle), you know it suggests that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, 80% of our outcomes are driven by 20% of our efforts. So shouldn’t we all be focusing on the 20% we do best?

But when it comes to bringing in the experts, here’s what a lot of people say:

If I do it myself, I know it’ll be right.
I don’t have time to bring on a partner.
It’s cheaper if I do it.

With the 80/20 Rule in mind, let’s look at those objections and see what’s behind them.

“If I do it myself, I know it’ll be right.”

That may be true for making a tuna sandwich, but once you’ve reached an innovation plateau – once you’ve “drawn the plans,” shouldn’t you bring in the right people to build the plane? So many organizations continue to over-engineer their own solutions when it’s time to turn it over to the actual engineers.

Fact is, clinging to control of your own destiny in this way ties up your resources, wastes a lot of time, and blows through your bottom-line cost. It’s a smarter call to align with a partner who will help you scale and innovate to grow faster and more profitably so you can go back to doing what you do best.

Cox, used-car

“I don’t have time to bring on a partner.”

Actually, you don’t have time not to bring on a partner. It’s true that relying on others to control your enhancements and develop your code requires a lot of trust, but innovation should never become stagnant. In software development, scalability and monetization are key. Why tie up your resources wasting time doing something you’re not an expert in? Get back to your expertise – the 20% that got you this far — and give the experts a chance at the other 80%.

“It’s cheaper if I do it.”

In other words, your time isn’t worth the cost of the outsourcing partner. Right? Wrong!

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Your time (and your team’s) is much too valuable to spend spinning your wheels making and troubleshooting and correcting rookie mistakes. Operationally controlling your own development team is very expensive. It’s hard to find and manage the right people with the right skillsets. Outsource your development to companies that specialize in what you need and could become invaluable plug-and-play partners for the long run.

As anyone who has ever tried to fix a car without instructions or bake a cake without a recipe has learned, the car runs better and the cake tastes more delicious when a professional does it. The 80/20 Rule is golden: Focus on your 20% and let those whose expertise is the other 80% take the reins. Outsource to a partner who aligns with and can fulfill your promises to your end-users to ultimately provide the best customer experience.

Software development is like paying your bills: It’s not horseshoes. Close doesn’t count. It is time to make penny perfect payments.

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Aaron Bickart
Aaron Bickart
Aaron Bickart is a recognized senior leader, entrepreneur, and award-winning sales and marketing professional with over 30 years of success in the multibillion-dollar automotive industry. Most recently, Aaron took over as Executive Vice President and General Manager of OfferLogix, the pioneer in lease and loan payment advertising for car dealers, OEMs, and online portals.

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