Pareto Charts for Breakthrough Improvement

The first step in breakthrough improvement is summarizing the massive amount of data collected about defects, mistakes and errors in any business. It doesn't matter if it's scrap in manufacturing or medication errors in healthcare, defects, waste and rework are consuming a third of most corporate budgets. You can easily aggregate and chart this data using the QI Macros for Excel.

compare pareto charts
Pareto Charts identify the most frequent types of defects, mistakes and errors.
(Pareto Chart)

Pareto Charts 101

Pareto charts are the key tool to use to diagnose problems with defects, mistakes and errors. If you have counts of typical mistakes, errors or defects, it's easy to turn them into a Pareto chart. You'll find many examples in Documents/QI Macros Test Data/pareto.xls.

Here's an example from a project where I helped a healthcare system save $5 million a year. Just select A1:B6 and choose Pareto chart.

summarize data for pareto chart

pareto chart with big bar

Pareto Charts 201

Sometimes you will want to compare Pareto charts over time to show improvement. Here's an example that shows before and after improvement. Just select E1:G10 and choose Pareto Chart.

compare data using two pareto charts

compare pareto charts

This shows that medication errors dropped from 90 to 30 (see top of y axis) in 18 months.

Pareto Charts for Text Fields

Often, you will need to summarize text data to be able to draw a Pareto chart. What do you do if you have data that looks like this?

how to create a pareto chart from text data

To summarize this data with QI Macros, just click on the column heading (Scrap Description) and choose Pareto Chart. QI Macros will run a Pivot-Table on the data and create a pareto chart in one step.

pareto chart to focus your efforts


Master the use of Pareto Charts and you'll be well on your way to success with Lean Six Sigma. QI Macros will support you every step of the way.

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