- 2 minutes read #Cow-orkers , #developer , #technology pontification

The Last 20%

This is re-write of a post I’d originally produced for the internal blog where I work. I wanted to bring it out into the public, so to speak, as I may have a sequence of general thoughts that start from here.

The 80:infinity rule – and a plea for the future

One of the problems with the “everything should be open/readable unless specified otherwise” premise favoured by the more vocal in the blogosphere is that security is virtually impossible to strap on as an afterthought module. The security functions needed to implement chinese walls, Sarbanes-Oxley and other contractual constraints i.e. the “triple A”: of Authentication, Authorisation and Auditing – often (always?) need to be in the core design of a tool or environment to be successful, even if they are usually turned off for collaboration.

Which brings me to the 80:infinity rule.

The joke goes: “the last 20% of a project takes 80% of the time, unfortunately so does the first 80%…”

But with modern RAD/Agile/nom-de-jour tools the first 80% can be done very quickly: within days, hours or even minutes (depending on how well the demonstration is rehearsed :-) But in my experience the last 20% is where the interesting stuff happens, and the more bling is devoted to the first 80% (to impress a gullible management) the more likely the last 20% will tend towards infinity.

With vendor products that means being locked into “rolling beta-release”, bleeding edge, and missed deadlines for promised functions.

Does that sound familiar? Is there at least one environment in your workplace evaluated only on its first 80%… And as support engineers and developers who’ve had a system dumped on them know, it’s the last 20% that causes the most pain.

In the enterprise where I work I’d guess the last 20% includes things like: AAA, proper ldap / enterprise directory integration (no, not just Active Directory), speed/scalability, redundancy/resilience, reporting, ownership/traceability (relates to AAA), integration rather than synchronisation, usability etc.

Getting that last 20% correct, right from the beginning, can have a far greater impact on project’s bottom-line budget than the first 80% ever can.

So, my plea for the future: if you’re in a position to make tool choices, ignore the first 80% as any fool vendor or contractor can implement that. For successful purchases and environments evaluate for the last 20%…

“Every moment in planning saves three or four in execution” – Crawford Greenwalt

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