What is Pareto Analysis?

A couple of years ago I went on some enhanced quality training workshops. The most impactful part was the use of Pareto Analysis. The Pareto principle is also known as the 80/20 rule – by doing 20% of the work you can generate 80% of the benefit of doing the entire job.

So how does this apply in the laboratory? Well, if you can get rid of 80% of your non-conformities by dealing with only 20% of the problems, you’ll do it, right?

We did an audit of the non-conformities for the past year. We discovered that the majority stemmed from data entry errors. Mainly because Cytology was still very much a manual process at the time. About 50% of our non-conformities were linked to this one area of the lab. So, by focusing on this area, it had a snowball effect on improving other areas too!

When you throw time and effort at one area causing the most problems, it makes a difference to the work and the staff too! Putting extra checks in place and making as much automated as possible, we reduced the non-conformities down from hundreds to less than 30 over the next year.

So what’s the point?

Less effort = more benefit. That means less time wasted. It also means way more accomplished! A much simpler way to improve quality in the workplace.

An extra bonus too! Using this tool just before your annual management review (AMR) means you can show your quality improvements more clearly over time. This is done by highlighting what you’ve discovered and what you’ll do (don’t be afraid!). Then, at the next AMR you can present the outcome (which should be an improvement!). These minutes are ALWAYS looked at by UKAS inspectors. So you’re killing many birds with just the one stone*!

*Please note no birds were harmed in the process of writing this article*

#paretoanalysis #qualityimprovement #biomedicalscience