Simple run charts

Run charts are really useful in quality improvement.  Whatever it is that we are trying to improve, the process of measuring and reviewing data is essential and a run chart is the best way we have found of doing this in a way that is simple to understand and share with others.



A run chart can be used to plot data you are collecting to try to understand variation in a process, or to monitor the impact you are making throughout a PDSA cycle.

Whatever you are using the chart for, our main recommendation (as ever) is keep-it-simple.

How to create a run chart

Creating a simple line chart will leave you with two axis to work with:

– On the X axis we plot time using what intervals are useful to you (days, weeks, months, etc)

– On the Y axis we plot whatever we are measuring in whatever unit is useful to you (count, percentage, etc)

Collect the data in a table and then turn it into a chart, using a line to connect the dots.

You can annotate the chart to show where you have made changes in practice or started a PDSA cycle, which will make it easier to see if a specific change has made a

You can add a horizontal line through the centre of you chart to show the (median) average of your measure.  You should then be able to see how you are doing over time.  It is as simple as that.

A template run chart

We have created a really simple template for a run chart which you can download here Template-Run_Charts_v06

Complete the highlighted boxes with the title of your chart and the measure you would like to monitor on the Y-axis.  Then add your data in the table beneath and the values will appear in the chart.

runchart3If you want to learn more about run charts and understanding variation, I recommend starting with this whiteboard video from the IHI.

If you would like some help in getting started, we would be happy to create a template specifically for the improvement you are trying to make.  Just complete the form below and we will send a custom run-chart example straight to your inbox.

We hope this is helpful and please get in touch with your comments.

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