SIPOC is a high level process map and is explained here with a SIPOC diagram example. Learn how to create SIPOC for your project in 7 simple steps.
SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. This is designed to be a high level process view with 6-7 process steps displayed. This helps the team to view the process together with all the important components.
S – Supplier : The person or organization providing resources (manpower, material, information or service) to the process
I – Input : Information, material, service or manpower
P – Process : The set of steps/activities that transform the inputs into outputs
O – Output : The final product or service resulting from the process
C – Customer : The person, organization or process that receives the output
When we start a six sigma project or any other type of project or we start a process study, SIPOC will always be helpful. In a DMAIC project we create SIPOC as part of the project charter itself to give an overview of the process.
Use of SIPOC is not limited to DMAIC only as stated above. If we reverse SIPOC then it becomes COPIS, which we use for new process designs.
SIPOC helps to identify the process boundaries and well defined start and stop points. It also helps to identify key stakeholders i.e. Suppliers and customers. It will also help the team to identify data collection needs. SIPOC helps everyone see the business from an overall process perspective by :
- Displaying cross- functional activities in simple diagrams
- Providing framework applicable to processes of all sizes
- Providing methods for adding additional details as needed
- Helps the cross functional team to understand process approach and interdependencies
Before we get into creating a SIPOC or COPIS, we need to understand the Process approach. People who are not familiar with this term needs to understand this before they can create their SIPOC diagram.
What is a Process
In simple words, a process is a set of interrelated activities which transform inputs into outputs with the objective of adding some value.
Let us take example of a simple Recruitment process, Recruitment team gets a list of vacancies or requirement from Operations and other functions. Now the process starts, once they get the requirement they start the activities.
The activities may include advertising on portals, going to job fairs or contacting vendors. After shortlisting, interviews will get conducted. There could be many more steps or activities in the process.
Post selection, selected candidates would be handed over to respective functions. So, selected candidates would be outputs from the process.
Similarly you can think of many such processes in your domain, organization and even at home. If you look around and try to figure out the process, you will understand that most of the things are done as per some process.
You will find that while many processes are defined and documented but many are not documented. We create SIPOC before going into creating detailed process maps.
Now that you understand the process, input and output variables, you can create your own SIPOC diagram. I discussed this here because without understanding the concept of process approach, you will find it difficult to visualize your problem area to create SIPOC diagram.
Step1 : Create it along with the team, a meeting room with wall space can be used to display the process steps. Post- it- notes can be used to map the process.
Step2 : Header:
Name the process and identify the Scope, Start and Stop points
Step3 : Under Process column:
List the high-level process steps
The process step must begin with a verb.
Don’t create a detailed map; should be 6 steps or less
Step4 : Under Outputs column:
List the tangible, measurable Outputs produced from the process and relevant to the problem at hand.
Step5 : Under Customers column
List the Customers who receive these Outputs
Step6 : Under Inputs column:
List the tangible, measurable Inputs required to produce the Outputs.
Step7 :Under Supplier column:
List the Suppliers who supply the Inputs to the process
Order that has to be followed while preparing SIPOC is COPIS
Start with Customer in focus, Outputs of concern, Process followed, Inputs to the process and their Suppliers
Here is an example from a contact center operations, customers contact in case of any technical or billing issue and it is handled by an advisor.
As you can see in the diagram, there are multiple stakeholders involved in the process. Some stakeholders are suppliers and others are customers. Suppliers provide inputs at different stages of the process, similarly different stages of the process also produce different outputs which we need to identify.
We create SIPOC during the Define phase of the project, we have to be clear of the start and stop points of the process as the process can be a continuous set of activities spanning multiple processes.
So define boundaries of your SIPOC as per the problem statement of your project, it is not that simple as it looks. Do discuss this with your team members and with experience it become clear.
In the next step, team has explained the process in 6 steps. It has to be a high level process map so you don’t need to go into details. The process steps should be sufficient enough for any outsider to understand the process.
As you can see in the example, team has shown closed case, case code documentation etc. as output form different process steps. If you write output specifically from each process step, then it becomes logical and very easy to understand.
Now brainstorm with the team on who all are the customers of these outputs, who are going to use the outputs. List them in the last column.
So far, we have captured process steps, Output and customers. Next step is to note down the inputs required for different process steps. Like in our example, this process needs trained agents, calls, chats etc. Please list down all the inputs of your process.
Listing suppliers for each input is not that difficult and you will not face too many problems in completing this step
Different Types of SIPOC and SIPOC Templates
While we have understood what is SIPOC and how to create one for our project, there could be different ways to depict it. So, no need to get confused, you make one which is easy for you.
There is no fixed template for SIPOC and the easiest is the one shown above in tabular form. The tabular SIPOC can be created in Excel/Word or PPT very easily.
You can also check below templates for your SIPOC. In one of them the process steps are shown separately, which is perfectly fine and many SIPOCs are created that way.
The last example is the most common way of depicting a SIPOC. There could be other templates also, but you can use the one which is easy for you to make with lesser time.
Please check Project Templets page for readymade templates.
I hope you have understood the above concept and if you want to learn more such tools then go for a Six Sigma course from Simplilearn. The course is aligned to IASSC and ASQ exam, integrates lean and DMAIC methodologies using case studies and real-life examples.
There is another good online Six Sigma Green Belt course from Coursera. This course is from University System of Georgia and is well recognized.
If you want to learn new age data science techniques, then one good starting point is Data Science course from Simplilearn. Data Science is emerging very fast and early movers will always have advantage.
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