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The 80/20 Rule for Church Software (and the trap of the final 20%)

Uno surfing

The 80/20 Rule (a.k.a. the Pareto Principle) is extremely helpful in understanding many facets of life, including how you apply software at your church. In fact, it even explains why so many churches still struggle more than they need to with their current software solutions.

The 80/20 Rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

For example, 80% of the complaining is done by 20% of the people. 80% of the work is done by 20% of your volunteers/staff. 80% of the tithing comes from 20% of your members (actually, it’s typically worse than that). 80% of your heartache comes from 20% of your children. 80% of your pain is caused by 20% of your problems.

You get the idea. In other words, it generally explains the typical disproportionality between various inputs and outputs. But it’s mind-blowingly powerful when you begin to understand that the vast majority (80%) of your desired outcomes come from such a small part (20%) of your effort.

Here’s another one for you: 20% of the software will solve 80% of your problems.

But there is something even more important churches must also understand alongside this lesson: There is no software that solves 100% of your problems. Yes, there is software that claims to do so. But in practice, it never lives up to it. Not necessarily because it’s poorly designed, but because solving that last 20% (beyond the initial 80%) is extremely complex, dynamic, constantly changing and, quite frankly, rarely worth the effort (80% more work!). It’s not practical to pursue it. Yet, so many church leaders fall prey to the promise of the 100%.

Further – and this is a really important point – often pursuing that “final 20%” (the full 100%) hurts the ability to do the first 80% well. You’ve probably experienced it. A piece of software tries to solve so many problems (i.e. do 100% everything) that it ends up being average (or bad) at doing any one thing.

In reality, when you shoot for solving 100%, you’ll be lucky to hit 50% (with 100% effort). However, if you’re wise and content enough to solve 80%, you can do it with just 20% of the effort (and you can do it well!). Then you do your best with the remaining 20% of issues, which will always be some level of messy, manual or piecemeal. But don’t compromise on doing the most important 80% really well in the process.

At Flocknote, we’ve seen these lessons lived out in practice for over a decade now in various church software solutions, and in endless other software markets today. That’s why we continue to stay laser-focused on developing solutions that help a church do only the most important functions…exceptionally well (and with far less work!).

Want to learn more about the 80/20 rule? Check out this quick clip below from The Finding Uno Show to learn more! 

This short video was taken from an episode of The Finding Uno Show, a fun & free show hosted by Flocknote Founder & CEO, Matthew Warner. Watch or listen to the full episode at