A Pareto chart combines a bar chart with a line graph. It is used to help show the cumulative percentage across data. With your data, you might see that you could solve 80% of problems encountered by addressing the 3 or 4 most frequent sources. The effort and investment to correct those problems would be very effective in reducing the total number of errors encountered.
This post is as much about using templates in Excel as it is about Pareto charts. They just make a good example because they are more complicated than the typical charts used in Excel. Fortunately, Microsoft Office has a template online that can easily be used.
On Office.Microsoft.com, Templates can be found that have been created by Microsoft or others that accomplish frequently used tasks. You can find the Pareto Analysis template at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/pareto-analysis-TC030001551.aspx
The template simply uses the data you provide to calculate the total number of data points and what percentage of the total is each category. When inputting your data, you will want to sort the data from highest to lowest. The chart will automatically adjust to having more or fewer categories. From the example data, we can see that the first three categories add up to 72% with the percentage change decreasing on down the list. Focus on those issues would have the most effect.
To use the template, it’s just a matter of downloading it from the Office site and opening it in Excel. However, if you want to “install” the template so you can have easy access to it later, you will want to save it as a template before you start tweaking the data.
Use the Office Button in Office 2007 or the File menu in Office 2010, and choose Save As. From the file type drop-down in the Save As… dialog, choose Excel Template and the location will automatically update to:
Save the file and the template will now be readily available on this computer when you go to File, New… and choose My Templates.
You can search Office.Microsoft.com for even more templates that might be useful in your daily job or personal life.