Product

Mastering the Pareto Principle: What is the 80/20 rule?

10 min read
Vlad Kovalskiy
February 28, 2024
Last updated: February 28, 2024
Mastering the Pareto Principle: What is the 80/20 rule?

Mastering the Pareto Principle has been a powerful, but often underappreciated, productivity hack since it was developed in 1941. Originally an economic observation by Italian sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto, it has now spread to a vast range of industries and applications.

Also known as the 80/20 rule, the concept is simple. It states that there is a rough universal constant: 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. When applied to your personal and professional life, it can have a profound impact on how you see the world and lead to increased success across the board.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional, an aspiring entrepreneur, or simply someone looking to optimize your daily life, understanding the 80/20 rule can open doors to a more efficient, strategic mindset. In this article, we’re going to give you a full picture of how to master the Pareto Principle, covering the theoretical framework as well as its practical applications, advantages, and caveats.

What is the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle?

In his 1906 work Cours d’Économie Politique, Vilfredo Pareto’s original economic argument showed that around 20% of the population owned around 80% of the land in the Kingdom of Italy. This claim could have fallen out of common knowledge had management consultant Joseph M. Juran not built upon it in 1941.

It was Juran who made the 80/20 principle more conceptual, stating that 20% of an issue causes 80% of the result. Nowadays, we have software engineering managers telling their teams to tackle 80% of the bugs that reside in 20% of the code, and employees getting 80% of their work done in 20% of the day.

Clearly, the Pareto distribution is more of a guideline than an exact rule. Depending on the case, it could be closer to 70/30 or 90/10, but the exact numbers are not important. What is important is the balance of a minority of factors creating a majority of outcomes.

The deeper we get into the Pareto Principle, the more potential you will see for streamlining a broad spectrum of business needs. By recognizing low-investment, high-reward aspects of your work, you can shift from quantity to quality, focusing on areas that bring about the most significant results.

How you can use the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle

Now we know that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes, let’s flip the equation on its head— the 80/20 rule is also the 20/80 rule. If you suggested spending 80% of your time on 20% of the results, your manager would be scratching their head, wondering why they hired you.

Of course, those smaller, less important tasks still need to get done. However, rather than cramming them into your most productive time of the day, make sure to focus on those high-reward jobs first.

To put this briefly: The main application of the Pareto Principle is prioritization.

To put this in context, we’re going to look at a few examples that resonate with businesses of all industries.

Mastering the Pareto Principle: What is the 80/20 rule

Business development and marketing

In the context of business, the 80/20 principle can help you identify which products or services are generating the most revenue. Using sales analysis, you can easily pull out data on how much money each item brings in, before visualizing it in a Pareto chart. With this information at hand, you can focus more resources on pushing your high-performing items, achieving a better return on investment for your marketing efforts.

Following the same strategy, you can also focus on a specific group of customers. As around 20% of your customers provide around 80% of your revenue, you can focus specialist campaigns on your top segment. Personalized campaigns that use each individual’s name in communications are a great way of increasing loyalty and capitalizing on your best customers.

Time management

Both on an individual and a team level, applying the Pareto Principle to time management is a fantastic way of prioritizing your tasks. With 20% of your tasks contributing to 80% of your productivity, you can choose the best times of the day to focus on your high-value work fully. Usually, this involves concentrating on your most fruitful tasks early in the morning when you’re feeling most fresh. Less valuable tasks can, therefore, be left until the post-lunch slump, avoiding putting unnecessary pressure on your team.

Project management

While time management plays a large role in how you organize your team, you also need to consider the importance of each task. Successful project management thus requires you to identify the most critical tasks and make sure they get done.

The tasks that fall into your 20% are usually the cornerstones of your project, with other tasks dependent on them. For example, a critical step for an event planner would be securing a venue. Only then can you direct suppliers to the correct place and plan your internal decoration.

At the end of this article, we'll take a more in-depth look at how the Pareto Principle enhances project management alongside tools such as Bitrix24.

Problem-solving

Easily applicable to customer service and product development, the Pareto Principle helps you categorize the most decisive issues that cause the majority of your problems. Rather than spending vast amounts of time on minor elements that don’t make much of an impact, prioritize your tickets based on the greatest good they’ll do for the widest audience.

However you apply the Pareto Principle, the focus is on improving efficiency and effectiveness. You’re essentially on the right track when you’re achieving more by seeing the bigger picture and focusing on what truly matters.

Advantages of using the Pareto Principle

Now you know how you can apply the 80/20 principle, let’s address why it is important.

Better decision-making

Understanding the difference between your cash cow products and your run-of-the-mill items allows you to channel resources to what will most benefit your business. Working in tandem with your sales analytics, you can identify the best tactics from a data perspective.

Clear priorities that get your team on the side

Getting universal buy-in from your team can often be difficult — especially when you need to pull people away from their specialty and apply them in a different team. When this happens, individuals can feel that their contribution is undervalued, while other teams have more influence.

However, when your team understands how focusing on specific areas can help you achieve common goals, your decisions seem much fairer and more acceptable. With everybody pulling in the same direction toward well-understood goals, you generate a harmonious working culture that promotes productivity.

Stress reduction

On a personal level, the Pareto Principle can help you lead a more balanced life. In this age of information, it’s easy to feel that you’ve got to do it all — keeping up to date with the news, staying on top of industry trends, pursuing your career, and working on a content creation side project.

By applying the Pareto distribution to your happiness, you can filter out practices that don’t spark joy. This usually involves having an honest conversation with yourself and putting more effort into personal growth such as staying fit, making time with your family, and ensuring you regularly get out into nature.

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Disadvantages of using the 80/20 rule

Understanding the potential drawbacks of relying too heavily on the 80/20 rule is crucial for balanced and effective decision-making.

Over-reliance on the Pareto Principle

As much as the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle works across many aspects of life, it is better to see it as a guideline, rather than an exact science. Managers and individuals who treat it as an infallible rule often find that they overlook common sense solutions, missing opportunities because they don’t fit the principle.

Neglect of lesser contributors

Focusing too much on 20% of your causes leads a lot of people to completely disregard the remaining 80%. These tasks are still essential — if not, why would you even do them? True, these jobs may not be the most exciting things or a highlight of your week, but they still need to get done.

For example, on an individual level, your daily maintenance takes up 80% of your time and gives you 20% of your happiness. You couldn’t live while neglecting things like keeping the house clean, cooking, and taking time for yourself, so don’t let the Pareto Principle stop you from being a rounded person.

Application of the Pareto Principle in Bitrix24 and project management

As we come to the end of our article on mastering the Pareto Principle, we’re going to take a deep dive into its applications for project management, especially when using Bitrix24.

Bitrix24 is an all-in-one business platformthat includes powerful project management software so you can:

  • Plan an entire project timeline based on historical data on how long tasks take

  • Assign individuals to each task for full accountability

  • Present your timeline in visualizations such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts

  • Analyze your progress and make smart adjustments for future projects

Alongside our software, the Pareto Principle can be a valuable framework for managing projects, as we’ll explore here.

Mastering the Pareto Principle: What is the 80/20 rule

Task prioritization

In Bitrix24, you can prioritize each individual task into categories such as critical, high priority, neutral, and low priority. Using the Pareto Principle, you can pinpoint the jobs that will have the greatest knock-on effects and make fast progress early in your project.

Resource allocation

Once you have identified your high-priority tasks, you can then turn your attention to ensuring you deploy the resources needed to get them done. Start by choosing a timeframe to focus on these tasks. Then, turning to human resources, take a look at your Bitrix24 team calendars to see who has free time, or rearrange tasks to make space. Finally, you can make sure enough budget is freed up for these tasks, using a Pareto chart to justify your request to superiors.

Enhancing productivity

Bitrix24 focuses heavily on productivity, with to-do lists, team and individual calendars, time-tracking software, collaborative documents, and automationautomations to streamline your workflows. The 80/20 rule adds context to your productivity efforts, giving you direction and focus for your speedy work.

Client and stakeholder management

One of the major roadblocks to smooth-running projects is convincing your clients or stakeholders of your strategy. It’s not enough to rely on your instincts and expect others to agree. The Pareto Principle is an easy vehicle to get your priorities into your stakeholder’s minds and get enough support to keep your project rolling on.

Quality control

The more complex your projects, the more difficult it is to keep tabs on your quality. The 80/20 rule can help you quickly identify the few critical issues that may be causing the majority of problems or delays in your project. Using Bitrix24’s performance analytics, you can pull out real-time reports that highlight where you are going over budget, or behind on your deadlines.

Make the Pareto Principle part of your business success

As we’ve seen, more than just an economic concept, the 80/20 rule, or Pareto Principle, has immediate applications for improving your workflows and bottom line. However, you need to have a solid foundation on which to implement the principle.

Bitrix24 gives you an array of tools that align perfectly with the 80/20 rule:

  • Task management software to focus on the most impactful work

  • Resource management so you can assign the right people and timeslots to make serious progress

  • Productivity analytics that help you spot which efforts are yielding the best results

  • Client relationship management (CRM) that reveals your highest-value clients

  • Customizable workflows to keep your processes as streamlined as possible

Now you know the Pareto Principle, it’s time to put it into action: Sign up for Bitrix24 today.

Professional business management solution to try!

Bitrix24 is a place where everyone can communicate, collaborate and manage daily activities. Encourage teamwork now and get things done.

Get Started

FAQs

What is the Pareto Principle in project management?

The Pareto Principle in project management suggests that 80% of project outcomes result from 20% of the efforts. In project management, it emphasizes focusing on key tasks that significantly impact project success to maximize productivity and results.

How does Bitrix24 help in applying the Pareto Principle?

Bitrix24 aids in applying the Pareto Principle through features like:

  • Task prioritization

  • Resource management tools

  • Productivity analytics

  • Customizable workflows

These functionalities enable users to identify and focus on the most impactful 20% of tasks, optimizing efficiency and effectiveness in project management.

How does the 80/20 rule improve team productivity?

The 80/20 rule has vast applications to improve a team’s productivity, such as:

  • Reducing wasted effort on less-impactful activities

  • Improving decision-making strategies

  • Managing stress for your employees

  • Concisely explaining priorities and direction

  • Fixing issues with the most positive repercussions first
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Table of Content
What is the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle? How you can use the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle Advantages of using the Pareto Principle Disadvantages of using the 80/20 rule Application of the Pareto Principle in Bitrix24 and project management Make the Pareto Principle part of your business success FAQs
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