SIPOC Diagram / Supplier Input Process Output Customer

SIPOC Diagram

 - A SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) diagram is a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end prior to implementation. SIPOC (pronounced sigh-pock) diagrams are also referred to as high level process maps because they do not contain much detail.

What Is the History of SIPOC Diagrams?

 - The SIPOC diagram origins late 1980s as a part of the total quality management (TQM) approach and the Six Sigma model to continuous process improvement. 

 - The technique is used during the DMAIC improvement cycle’s definition phase where project goals, challenges, scope, and time frames are clearly defined. SIPOC plays a complementary role in lean manufacturing and business process improvement programs.

SIPOC Elements

The focus is on capturing the set of inputs or outputs rather than the individual steps of the process.

1. Suppliers: Providers of inputs into a process.

2. Inputs: Resources, such as materials, needed to complete the process.

3. Process: Steps that convert inputs to outputs.

4. Outputs: Product or service created from the process.

5. Customers: Recipients of outputs.

Why Are SIPOC Diagrams Important?

 - SIPOC diagrams are an established quality-management technique utilized in Six Sigma project management as well as other process improvement models. 

 - The diagram is ideal to identify the causes of process variation. It can be used to measure and control these variations to arrive at a more stable and predictable process.

 - SIPOC diagrams are excellent for analyzing and improving business processes. Thanks to their easy-to-use nature and application of less specific language, they are easy to understand and can be applied to any business context. 

 - They are equally useful for onboarding new team members, filling in newly added members to a project and stakeholders alike.

 - SIPOC diagrams allow to define the specifications of the process inputs and determine who is expected to supply the said inputs so there are no misunderstandings. 

 - It also helps to identify the customers in the process along with their specific requirements.

How to create a SIPOC diagram

SIPOC diagrams are tables that document the inputs and outputs of a process. They can be created by following seven steps:

1. Choose a process: The first step is to choose a business process that would benefit from charting in a SIPOC diagram. A team can then be assembled around the key players of that process.

2. Define the process: The diagram starts with the “P” section, which is usually an overview of the business process in 4-5 high level steps that each consist of an action and a subject. This could include the starting and ending points for the process or a simple flowchart.

3. Identify the outputs: This section includes 3-4 outputs with little supporting information, typically neutral in tone and using nouns only. Inputs and outputs can be anything ranging from materials, products, services or information.

4. Identify the customers: These are the individuals that will receive the outputs or will benefit from the process. Customers are not always external consumers and could be coworkers, board members or other internal stakeholders.

5. Identify the inputs: This section includes the resources that are necessary for the process to function properly. Similar to outputs, only the important, overarching inputs should be listed.

6. Identify the suppliers: This section lists the suppliers associated with each of the inputs of the process. A supplier is anyone that has a direct impact on the outputs.

7. Share the diagram: Once the diagram is complete, it should be shared with any relevant stakeholders and validated before moving along with the process

Example of SIPOC

 - Check the below example ice cream parlor.

SIPOC Diagram

When to use a SIPOC diagram

 - Creating a SIPOC diagram can be beneficial in a variety of applications, the most popular being for continuous improvement. 

 - Since a finished SIPOC diagram provides a high level map of a process, it can be used for identifying problem areas, conducting process analysis and explaining business operations to an audience.

 - Additionally, a SIPOC diagram can be helpful when parts of a process are unclear. It forces team members to identify and centralized information such as supplier contacts, project specifications and target customers.

Benefits of a SIPOC diagram

A few benefits of using a SIPOC diagram are:

 - Increases transparency across an organization.

 - Provides an overview of a project for stakeholders.

 - Can be used as a training tool for newer employees.

 - Helps with problem-solving initiatives.

 - Creates a template that can be reused for various processes and projects.

 - Ensures all team members are on the same page.

How Does SIPOC Help in a Six Sigma Project?

 - Being one of the most widely applied sets of tools and techniques for process improvement, Six Sigma utilizes the SIPOC diagram during the definition phase of Six Sigma project management. 

 - The Six Sigma approach achieves improvement by identifying and removing the root causes of defects and minimizing variability in the process. This is where the two models intersect and complement one another.

 - SIPOC diagrams are visual representations of business process mapping. They provide a clear and concise overview of the inputs and outputs of a process, defining the suppliers and customers. By visualizing on a diagram the root causes of variation in a business process, the SIPOC tool supports the key objective of Six Sigma – identifying and reducing variation. 

 - By mapping a process on a SIPOC diagram, you will gain a better understanding of how each item would impact the process benefits (outputs).

 - By helping to identify the root causes of process variation, SIPOC diagrams can be beneficial to measure and control variations. Breaking down the sources of variation for each SIPOC category unlocks key insights into process impediments and improvement opportunities. 

 - As a result, due to reducing process variations, you will ultimately decrease the outputs’ variation and make your process more stable and predictable – one of the key Six Sigma assertions.

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