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When starting an improvement project, have you ever struggled to agree which elements of your business processes are relevant and in scope? This is a common issue for many of our clients at ChangeWise, and we often suggest using a SIPOC diagram to help.
Where did the SIPOC tool originate?
SIPOC originates from the 1980s and forms part of the total quality movement.
What is a SIPOC?
SIPOC stands for Supplier, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customer. It is a structured approach to providing a high-level overview of the scope of a project and is a variant of process mapping.
What are the benefits of using a SIPOC?
The SIPOC acts as a high-level visual management tool for ensuring the project team have a holistic view of the process, and more importantly, for the purpose of project scope – where the process starts and where it finishes.
It also encourages the team to think about and agree who the internal and external customers are, and who supplies into a given process. It can help to highlight any inputs and outputs that have potential gaps or are simply unnecessary (Non-Value-Add).
How do I create a SIPOC for my business process?
A SIPOC is best created as a brainstorming exercise in a team setting. Post-It notes are great, as they allow the team to remove/reorder steps as the various elements are agreed.
As an example, imagine we have a process in our organisation that uses a courier to deliver a product to clients. The example below looks at the complaints process for delivery issues.
Step 1: Process
Agree where the process starts and finishes. This should be 4-5 high-level steps – it is important that the team agree on this:
Step 2: Define the outputs of each process step.
This could be approvals, paperwork, data, reports, emails, calls – anything created as a result of the process step.
Step 3: Agree the customers in the process:
This includes external and internal customers affected by the process and outputs. Each process step should have at least one customer.
Step 4: Identify the inputs:
This could be people, machines, materials or reports – anything that triggers the process.
Step 5: List all those who supply into the process:
Anyone who triggers or impacts an output should be listed here.
A SIPOC acts a great technique for mobilising projects, agreeing scope and ensuring the project team are aligned. It creates a holistic view of an operation and acts as a great problem-solving tool as well as forming the basis of a plan to walk the process (Gemba).
Want to learn more about creating a SIPOC to help define the scope for your process improvement project? Contact us at email@example.com
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