Pareto Analysis

Pareto charts provide a tool for visualizing the Pareto principle, which states that a small set of problems (the "vital few") affecting a common outcome tend to occur much more frequently than the remainder (the "useful many"). A Pareto chart can be used to decide which subset of problems should be solved first, or which problems deserve the most attention.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

This principle can be applied to quality improvement to the extent that a great majority of problems (80%) are produced by a few key causes (20%). If we correct these few key causes, we will have a greater probability of success. It is the basis for the Pareto diagram, one of the key tools used in total quality control and Six Sigma.

Step by step process:
1 List all elements of interest
2 Measure the elements, using same unit of measurement for each element.
3 Order the elements according to their measure
4 Calculate the percentage for each element out of the total measurement
5 Accumulate the percentage from top to bottom to equal 100%.
6 Create a bar and line graph, line representing cumulative percentage.
7 Work on the most important element first.

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"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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