Pareto in software

October 28, 2023 4 min


Yesterday I was almost sleeping, but then this idea popped into my head. I have the feeling that, in most part of software projects that are being made for companies that don't have software as their core business, doing the 20% effort - 80% results part of the principle is what is required.

For good or for worse, that's what happens in my current job. I work in a fintech that creates software for another financial company, which is the one that's investing money in our business. The thing is, it's really hard to say to the investors from this company something like:

“Yeah, we spent the last 3 months developing this app right here, it has no animations, the code needs to be refactored, the interface is ugly as hell, we’re using an old lib that needs to be updated in the backend, and if we change our API design, we'll have a 30% improvement in the response time. But it works. For us to implement these changes, it would take up to 4/5 months.”

He/she will never accept that their money is being spent on things as small as improving the response time or adjusting the corners of buttons in the UI. From their perspective, we could use this time to develop another app and we would still have time to do the improvements proposed to the first one.

I feel like there’s some kind of curtain that divides the 2 worlds: the developers and the PMs. Technical people and managing people often disagree on what tasks to prioritize and that causes some problems in the day-to-day activities. My manager’s take on this is that you have to find the balance between both sides, and that's my current solution to this division problem. Although this approach seems to work, nobody is satisfied and I feel like there must be an optimal way of balancing both sides.

Other scenarios

Evidently, in companies where software is the main priority, there’s no such thing as stopping in the 80% results zone. If you want to succeed in this market, you must develop the best piece of software you can.

For example, startups like Linear or Vercel (the new home page is dope btw) need to put in that extra 80% effort in their product because that's literally where the money comes from.

Cool stuff I've come across

I'm changing the name of this section because me and Abdul agreed to modify our agreement from posting weekly to twice a month.

I watched this cool movie about the match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol (the best Go player in the world at that moment). It's amazing how Sedol could win one game against a fucking ML model.

Besides that, also listened to Magnus Carlsen, Michio Kaku, and Demis Hassabis on the Lex Fridman Podcast (kinda addicted). Magnus made me start to consume some content about chess and made me think about the differences between the top players in different sports. For example, the best soccer player in the world needs to be constantly focused on his health, while Magnus often drinks alcohol—such a fun dude. Kaku has a great vision about the future of humanity, his explanation on how we (homo sapiens) became intelligent - predator eyes (stereo eyesight), opposable thumbs, and language - is amazing.

I also read about this thing called The Andromeda Paradox, which I found pretty intriguing. Roger Penrose states that two people can have different sets of events around them while being in the same place at the same time. That blew my mind.

Watched this podcast with Brex’s founders, who I’m really inspired by. The highlight for me is when they explain how they divide the work because they’re both CEOs. This idea of having an internal and an external CEO seems interesting.

Finally, Mind is now available in the Play Store and App Store. 🥳