How to make a SIPOC?

A SIPOC is a high level process map. The letters stand for:

  • S: Supplier
  • I: Input
  • P: Process
  • O: Output
  • C: Customer

The ideas about the scope of a process or project can vary with each team and each person. Making a SIPOC together helps to get everyone on the same page about the start en end of the process you are trying to improve. It is most often used during the Define phase of DMAIC.


How to make a SIPOC?

There are several ways to do map a SIPOC:

  1. Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer
  2. Input-Supplier-Process-Output-Customer
  3. Customer-Output-Process-Input--Supplier

Which order you use will depend on the situation you are in. If people have lost sight of their customers you may want to start with the customer. If the process is not performing well you may want to start with the suppliers. If inputs are lacking in quality or quantity or people lack insight in the total supply chain it is probably a good idea to start with the Inputs. 

No matter which order you choose the questions for each step and approach for each step will be the same.

  • Supplier: Who are your suppliers for the product you are producing? This is not an exhaustive list of everyone who supplies something to your company. It is about the suppliers for the process you are trying to improve. When a supplier cannot be matched to an input you do not need to map the supplier here. Suppliers can be internal and external parties.
  • Inputs: What supplies do you need to make the process you are trying to improve work? Stick to one to four main inputs. This is not about listing all the inputs your company needs to work well, just about the ones you need to make the process work. When an input cannot be matched to a supplier you do not need the input in the SIPOC. 
  • Process: Here you map four to eight main steps needed to go from input to output. Since it is a high level map you do not need decision points or feedback loops. Mapping the main process steps will get people talking about the requirements the inputs need to meet. Write those down as well. You will need this information for your improvement efforts.
  • Outputs: These are the one to four main outputs your process delivers to it's customers. It may be the case that your process delivers more outputs, so be sure to map the ones that matter most to your customers.
  • Customers: These can be internal and external customers. They are the ones who receive your outputs. Be sure to limit yourself to the most important or biggest groups of customers. Customers will demand certain things of your product, for instance a certain quality or speed. Be sure to write these down and see whether your inputs match these demands. 

When is your SIPOC done?

Your SIPOC serves a certain purpose, usually to define the scope of your project. The SIPOC is done when the scope of your project is clear and your major stakeholders agree with the scope and with the contents of the SIPOC. Your SIPOC has given you a great starting point for your improvement efforts. While you are making the SIPOC you will already have gathered a lot of valueable information about what to improve. You can take these along on your improvement journey. As with all lean and six sigma tools, making a SIPOC is not a solitary affair. Be sure to include your stakeholders

Be aware that a high level process still needs to be meaningful and clearly defined. You can capture an entire company in seven process steps if you want to, but then you will have an immense scope to your project. When you look at the process steps in your SIPOC in more detail you will always find surprises. The number and impact of surprises increase when your scope increases. So choose wisely and be smart about your scope.


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