Making Pareto Charts by Hand?

Improvement Insights Blog

Making Pareto Charts by Hand?

Sometimes you’ll hear people say that software isn’t necessary for Quality Improvement. Let me demonstrate how much time you’re wasting if you create ONE Pareto chart by hand, instead of using software.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and the QI Macros [software].

“If you’ve listened to any of my Insight videos or seen me present at conferences or [had me] train you in a workshop, you know that I don’t believe you can do Quality Improvement without software. We have to stop doing Quality Improvement the 20th century manual, slow way. We have to start doing it the 21st century way, and we have to start doing it quickly. I believe that you can’t do that without Lean Six Sigma SPC software.

“Now, do I say that because I want to sell one more license of QI Macros? Sure… but you can use your software; I don’t care, right? But if we’re going to create a hassle-free world, I believe you cannot do Quality Improvement – you cannot make those improvements and you cannot sustain those improvements – without software to do that job.

“Now I believe that this is all about Quality Improvement, and if you know anything about me, I hate waste and rework. If you are doing things manually, you’re wasting a lot of time that you could spend actually improving stuff. If you’re spending a lot of time doing things manually, then guess what? You are wasting time, and you’re wasting a lot more money than the price of the QI Macros, I can tell you that for a fact. If your loaded rate is 50 bucks an hour, [and you do] five or six hours of farting around, you could have bought QI Macros and been done in an hour. Now, to demonstrate this, let me show you how to do a Pareto chart by hand.

“First, we might have some data that looks like what’s on the left. We have to summarize that data. Here you can see we have lots of data about defects, we’ve written them all down or typed them all in or something. What we want to do is be able to count the number of times those occur. Now, all too often what I find people do is they sit there and try and stroke tally it, and so they slowly stroke tally all the occurrences of those numbers. As you can see it takes a while to get all that done, but that’s how they do it. That summarizes the number of times these all existed in there.

“Now once we’ve got that then we can go out and start to work on developing a Pareto chart. So we’ve got all the data summarized, now what we have to do is take that data and sort it in descending order. You can do this manually or you can do that with a sort function in Microsoft Excel.

“Then we have to calculate the cumulative defects, and so here we’re going to sum the total number of these and each one of those and divide it by the total to come up with a percentage or cumulative percentage for each one of those bars.

“Then we might want to summarize our small ones into an “Other” bar to sit at the very end, so we’re going to take all of those and put those together, and we can do that manually as well.

“Then what we have to do is take those data points and plot them on a chart, and so just draw a square box and then you can start drawing boxes that match up to each one of the things. The big numbers are at the top so the big bar will be at the left and so here you can see we’re going to add our first big bar “Folded Flaps,” and then on and on. We’re just going to keep drawing and adding to that, adding in our cumulative line. As we progress through this you can see we slowly but surely get to a complete picture of our defects by hand. As you can see this takes a while. Here, I’m doing it a little bit more automated, but if you try and do this by hand… We have one professor who has his students do it [by hand, and] it takes them anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to actually draw, calculate and draw a Pareto chart by hand. This gives you some idea of how long it can take to draw a simple Pareto chart (although it’s really not that simple).

“Or, if you have your data summarized in Excel you can do things like [this]: I’m going to give this a title and I’m going to go ahead and select that data with the mouse. I can click on that and [select] Pareto chart, and the Pareto chart [tool] will go ahead and draw that chart for me. If I have just raw data like this I can actually go in here, I could use a Pivot Table Wizard to summarize all of that data, and then take that data and turn that into a Pareto chart. Or, if you don’t want to use pivot tables, then you can just click on the single column here, click on Pareto chart and it will go ahead and summarize all of that for you.

“Now do you see what I mean? Doing things manually takes a long time. Doing it with software does not. You know, to draw one by hand took this long, to do it with the QI macros, took that long. If you’re spending this much time drawing charts and doing data analysis and whatever you’re wasting a lot of time, and waste and rework are not a value-added thing in Quality Improvement, right? So we want to collapse the time it takes to do the data analysis and draw the charts, so that you can get on with doing root-cause analysis, coming up with countermeasures, implementing solutions, right? Let’s collapse the time it takes to get the insights we need to start making improvements. I believe that you can use QI Macros or you can use something else, but you’re going to have to use something, because otherwise it just takes too long and you won’t be able to sustain the improvement, because without control charts you can’t sustain improvements. You’ll make improvements and they’ll collapse; I see that over and over and over again.

“Now, I believe you have two choices, and the first choice is to keep doing things the slow manual way we did them in the last century, or you can get some software like QI Macros and move up to 21st century quality. Start doing analysis in seconds, not hours or months or weeks or years, right? Start doing things quickly and making improvements, and I think if we do that, we can create a hassle-free America, hassle-free healthcare, a hassle-free world where everything works flawlessly and we don’t have to struggle with all the rework and waste that we spend doing now.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”