Improving Processes & Services

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Data Handling

Pareto Analysis - the 80/20 rule

In the 19th century, an Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto, noted that most (80%) of the country’s wealth was owned by a relatively small proportion (20%) of the population, and after further work developed the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule.

If we apply this to organisations we find; 80% of our sales come from 20% of our customers; 80% of our phone calls come from 20% of our colleagues; 80% of the complaints come from 20% of our customers; and so on. The ratio is rarely exactly 80/20; it could be 90/20, 70/10, etc.

The key point is that there are always the Vital Few and the Trivial Many. The more one applies Pareto, the more it seems to apply. In structured problem solving it is used to help to set priorities on which problems to tackle first - “to sort out the wheat from the chaff”. The earlier case study illustrated its use.

The general procedure (as applied to customer complaints) is:

Step 1 - Decide how data should be classified
Step 2 - Use Checklist to collect data for a specified Time Period

Pareto Chart 1

Step 3 - Arrange Data in Descending Order (largest down to smallest )

Pareto Chart 2

Step 4 - Plot Bar Chart


Pareto Chart 3



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