With the ability to visualize and prioritize issues based on how frequent or serious they are, a Pareto chart is an amazing tool for anyone involved in problem-solving or decision-making processes. It can be particularly beneficial for managers, analysts, engineers, and anyone else within various domains such as business management, quality control, project management, or process improvement.

Deriving from the Pareto Principle, i.e., 20% of the causes give 80% of the impact, this chart represents the data in descending order by emphasis on the most significant factors. The power of the Pareto Principle lies in the fact that because of the clear graphical representation, individuals can concentrate mostly on really important issues. 

What Is a Pareto Chart?

A Pareto chart is a composite chart that uses bar graphs to convey the major factors causing a problem or issue. It mixes up the bar graph and line chart, with the bars showing individual category factors separately and the line showing the number of parts out of the total.

The idea behind the Pareto chart is rooted in the Pareto Principle, the 80*20 rule. The Pareto chart starts with data collection and decomposition, which refers to the major causes of the problem. Now, factors are placed into the scale of the following ranking system: 

  • The higher the position is, the more essential the factor is. 

As for the Rule of Plurality, the one leading in the rating system becomes the first factor. The frequency for each group is illustrated in a bar graph and a line graph.

Pareto charts enable decision-makers to identify the most crucial problems or improvement opportunities quickly. This pattern allows them to prioritize different programs or projects and allocate resources effectively, thereby producing more targeted and effectively implemented solutions.

Pareto Principle Explained

The concept of the Pareto Principle is such that according to it, the effects of 80% of the results are caused by 20% of their causes. The 'Pareto 80/20 Principle' was named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, who noticed that almost 80% of the earth was enjoyed by 20% of the population in Italy. This principle becomes equally relevant to many observed facts at different edges of science.

In business or economic matters, the Pareto Principle highlights that a small percentage of input or efforts can frequently yield a large proportion of results or outcomes. For example, it could help the management understand that 80% of a company will bring in 20% of the profits or that 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the causes.

The rule also works outside the economy; for example, in time management, it helps us prioritize activities by demonstrating that 80% of productive efforts are devoted to only 20% of the tasks done consistently. 

While the exact percentages may vary in different contexts, the main idea remains consistent: most often, a minority of inputs or, sometimes, only many forces are forcing the majority of results or outcomes.

When to Use a Pareto Chart?

A Pareto chart is best used when you need to:

  • Identify Priorities: A Pareto chart is useful when many factors are contributing to the final result. Having this tool from day one will equip you with knowledge of what factors hold the highest priority and where resources should be applied. 
  • Communicate Effectively: Pareto charts offer a graphical way of displaying data, making it easier to tell the management what was found. 
  • Track Progress: Providing continuous updates to the chart with new data, you will have a chance to evaluate whether the activities targeting the most potent factors are giving the desirable outcomes and to adjust strategies if needed.
  • Problem-Solving: Very complex problems require dissection into simpler parts, which is where Pareto charts are important. By recognizing the main drivers of the problem, it will be possible to plan and develop plans that target the hidden causes.

Steps of Pareto Analysis

The technique of Pareto analysis is applied to determine what leads to a certain situation and which issue needs to be focused on the most. The rule of Pareto is also known as the 80/20 rule, indicating that the majority of an effect is obtained from the minority of its causes. Here are the steps of Pareto analysis:

Define the Problem

Start by defining the problem you are trying to solve. It might be related to customer complaints, production process inefficiencies, or equipment malfunctions. Ensure that the selected issue is tangible enough and can be measured properly, thereby facilitating the process of collecting and analyzing data.

Collect Data

Gather information about the problem you knew about from the existing sources. This might include customer feedback, reports, process logs, or other data sources that provide insights into the issue. Ensure that the data is accurate, complete, and representative of your problem.

Categorize the Data

Grouping or categorizing the data based on the different factors that impact the problem could be encouraged. For example, when working with customer complaints, classify them by type of complaint to determine which issue is the most important, such as poor product quality, delayed delivery, or customer service problems.

Calculate Frequencies

Figure out the end frequency for every category by the number of factors in the data set. This step enables us to define the dimensional nature of every problem factor.

Calculate Cumulative Frequencies

Sum up the table entries where each category represents the most significant to the least significant factor for the cumulative frequency. This part helps you identify the extent of the whole problem, which each factor is monitoring.

Calculate Percentages

Calculate the percentages of each category's total problem by dividing each category's respective frequencies by their total frequency and multiplying by 100. This action eliminates biases and simplifies the comparison accuracy of each attribute.

Create a Pareto Chart

Create a Pareto chart using the categories and the amounts or percentages next to them. Plot the categories on the x-axis (horizontal line) and their frequency or percentages (vertical line). Classify the categories by the order in which they are displayed in line with their occurrence or size.

Identify the Important Ones

Know what categories of the total problem to be explained account for the biggest amount of the problem. These are the “vital few” coupled with the most significant factors. Like the Pareto Principle, your goal is to focus on the top 20 percent of the problem for about 80 percent of what was mentioned.

Analyze Root Causes

After the important step, when you’ve found the key problems, discover how they are deeply interconnected with the root cause. Conduct root cause analysis to uncover underlying issues or systemic problems that need to be addressed to mitigate the problem effectively.

Develop Action Plans

Based on the outcome of your analysis, design action plans to address the Pareto principle factors. By allocating resources and prioritizing interventions that address these factors, much more can be accomplished in delivering results.

Implement Solutions

Implement the identified actions to support the few key factors. Track the progress and take corrective measures to avoid duplication of efforts. In this case, your solutions should effectively solve the problem.

Monitor and Evaluate

Continuously monitor and assess the effectiveness of the measures implemented and react in case of problems or issues. Apply the data-driven approach to assess performance and to determine if the problem is being addressed satisfactorily. Make the needed adjustments or additions to the mechanism to complete the targets.

Pareto Chart Procedure: How to Create a Pareto Chart?

  • To conduct a Pareto analysis, acquire data connected to the problem from various sources and put them into classes known as factors of the problem. Work out the frequency of the category appearance and get the cumulative frequencies. 
  • Next, determine the percentage of each category for the problem as a whole. The highest percentage to the lowest are plotted on the x-axis, while their corresponding frequencies or percentages are shown on the y-axis. 
  • Label the right vertical axis with the cumulative percentages (Note that the cumulative total should equal 100%).
  • Draw in the bars for each item.
  • Next, draw a line graph of the cumulative percentages. Ensure that the first point on the line graph lines up with the top of the first bar.

With the chart prepared, the final step is analysis. Identify the items that appear to account for most of the difficulty. 

Advantages of Pareto Analysis

The importance of Pareto analysis includes the following aspects: 

  • Pareto analysis helps identify the important factors or issues that contribute the most to a problem. By focusing on the vital few factors, organizations can allocate resources and efforts more efficiently, targeting areas where they must address the issues most importantly.
  • Pareto charts provide a clear visual representation of data, making it easier to understand complex relationships and prioritize actions. 
  • Pareto analysis is based on empirical data, enabling data-driven decision-making processes. 
  • Pareto analysis helps in problem-solving. Instead of addressing every aspect of a problem equally, organizations can prioritize the root causes or key drivers.
  • Pareto analysis can be used as part of a continuous improvement process to monitor progress. 
  • It provides a common language for communicating findings and priorities to stakeholders.

Disadvantages of Pareto Analysis

While Pareto analysis offers several benefits, it also has some disadvantages: 

  • Pareto analysis depends on selecting appropriate data categories to represent the problem. The nature of categorization can introduce bias and influence the results.
  • Pareto analysis focuses on quantitative data, like counts or frequencies of occurrences. This numerical data emphasis may overlook the problem's qualitative aspects, such as root causes, context, or underlying dynamics. 
  • Static representation of problems at a specific point in time, but they do not capture changes or trends over time. Continuous monitoring and updating of Pareto charts are necessary to ensure their relevance and effectiveness.
  • Pareto analysis assumes that factors contributing to the problem are independent. However, in reality, factors may be interconnected.
  • Pareto analysis focuses on identifying the vital few factors that contribute the most to the problem, which leads to neglecting minority factors that may still have significant implications. 

Example of Pareto Analysis

An example of Pareto analysis includes a case where a manufacturing company is experiencing product quality issues. The company decides to conduct a Pareto analysis to identify the most significant defects contributing to the overall quality problems. 

  • Define the Problem: The company defines the problem as quality issues affecting its products, leading to customer complaints and decreased satisfaction.
  • Collect Data: Data is collected from various sources, including defect reports, customer complaints, and quality control records. The data includes information on the types and frequency of defects observed in the products.
  • Categorize the Data: The collected data is categorized into different types of defects, such as manufacturing defects, design flaws, material issues, and packaging errors.
  • Calculate Frequencies: The frequency of occurrence for each defect type is calculated by counting the number of occurrences in the data set. For example, the data might show that there were 50 instances of manufacturing defects, 30 instances of design flaws, 20 instances of material issues, and 10 instances of packaging errors.
  • Create a Pareto Chart: A Pareto chart is constructed, with the defect types plotted on the x-axis and their frequencies on the y-axis. The defect types are arranged in descending order of frequency, with the most common defect type appearing first.
  • Identify the Vital Few: The Pareto chart reveals that manufacturing defects account for most quality issues, representing 50% of the total defects. Design flaws and material issues account for 30% and 20% of the defects, respectively, while packaging errors have a minimal impact.
  • Analyze Root Causes: Further analysis is conducted to understand the root causes behind the manufacturing defects. This may involve examining production processes, equipment performance, training procedures, and quality control measures to identify areas for improvement.
  • Develop Action Plans: Based on the analysis, action plans address the root causes of manufacturing defects. This might include implementing process improvements, enhancing quality control measures, providing additional training to staff, and refining product designs.
  • Implement Solutions: The action plans are implemented, and changes are made to production processes, quality control protocols, and other relevant areas to reduce the occurrence of manufacturing defects.
  • Monitor and Evaluate: Progress is monitored closely to assess the effectiveness of the implemented solutions. Key performance indicators, such as defect rates, customer satisfaction scores, and product returns, are tracked to measure improvement and identify areas needing further attention.


Pareto charts are invaluable tools for decision-making, offering a systematic approach to identifying and addressing key issues. Organizations can achieve maximum impact and drive continuous improvement by focusing efforts on the vital few factors. Simplilearn offers AI and machine learning courses that empower professionals to use advanced technologies for business transformation. Explore Simplilearn's courses on Generative AI for business transformation and Applied AI to gain the skills needed to thrive in today's data-driven world.


1. What are the components of a Pareto Chart?

Components of a Pareto Chart include bars representing categories and a line graph showing cumulative percentages.

2. What does the Pareto Diagram include?

The Pareto Diagram includes categories of factors contributing to a problem and their respective frequencies or percentages.

3. What is the 80/20 rule in Pareto charts?

The 80/20 rule in Pareto charts states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

4. Can Pareto charts be used for all types of data?

Pareto charts can be used for most data types, including categories, frequencies, or percentages.

5. What are the limitations of using Pareto charts?

Limitations of Pareto charts include subjectivity in data selection, overemphasis on quantitative data, and neglect of minority factors.

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