What is a SIPOC?
A SIPOC is a high-level process mapping tool that helps visualize a process and its influences. In other words, it is a useful tool that depicts how a process serves the customer and shows the inputs and outputs of a process in a visual format.
The acronym for SIPOC stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer. However, the construction of SIPOC has always involved identifying the process, determining the output of the process, then recognizing the customer receiving the outputs, then finding the inputs and then suppliers of the inputs. So, often it is called a POCIS diagram.
When Do You Use It?
Creating SIPOC is very helpful to continuous improvement projects like Six Sigma. Moreover, internal inputs and processes are usually easy for a DMAIC team to access in the define phase. Hence, SIPOC is often used in the Define phase of DMAIC.
Additionally, SIPOC is very useful when part of the process is unclear. SIPOC helps teams, top management, and other stakeholders resolve process-related issues and plan appropriate improvement strategies.
Why Use a SIPOC?
SIPOC is one of the primary factors for process improvement. Moreover, the diagram helps the team and the sponsor agree on the project boundary and scope. SIPOCs also help determine the variation in Key Process Input Variables (KVIPs) and Key Process Output Variables (KPOVs), which can greatly impact manufacturability and serviceability reliability, and product efficiency.
How to create a SIPOC?
SIPOC is a table that documents the process, output, customer, input, and supplier in a table format with the help of the following steps
- Identify the process: Identify the process for which SIPOC will be created. Identify the process as a team.
- Define the process steps: A process is a defined sequence of activities that usually adds value to inputs to produce customer outputs. High-level process flow covers a maximum of 7 steps; otherwise, it is hard to follow. Additionally, use an Affinity Diagram to reduce larger processes to a few key steps.
- List down the Outputs: Outputs are the products, services, and/or information that are valuable to the customers. This includes anything ranging from products, materials, or services delivered to the customer.
- Identify the Customers: Customers are the users of the outputs produced by the process. Moreover, customers are not always outside the organization; they may also be internal stakeholders.
- Determine the Inputs required for the process: Inputs define the material, service, and/or information used to produce the outputs. An input plays a vital role, as input variation impacts the output.
- Identify the Suppliers: Suppliers provide inputs to the process. Not only external suppliers. You should also cover internal suppliers.
- Validate the diagram: Once completed, share it with all relevant stakeholders and validate it before moving to the process improvement stage.
- Helps to define the new process
- Provides a project overview for all the stakeholders
- Provides a high-level project overview to the top management
- Problem-solving initiative
- Provides input and output information for key processes
- Ensures all the stakeholders are on the same page
Example SIPOC in a DMAIC Project
Example: ABC chocolate factory in Houston is working to improve its operating processes using Six Sigma. During the Define phase, the team attempts to develop a SIPOC to better understand how the chocolate manufacturing process serves the customer. They want to summarize this information and present the inputs and outputs of a process in a visual format.
- Identify the process: The chocolate manufacturing process.
- Define the process steps: The following is the high-level process
- Input goods inspection
- Meltdown chocolate blocks in warmers
- Add ingredients to the chocolate paste
- Temper verification
- Chocolate line production and packing
- List down the Outputs: The following are the outputs at various stages
- Approved batches of chocolate blocks and Ingredients
- Chocolate paste
- Chocolate chips
- Acceptable chocolate chips
- Packaged chocolate chips
- Identify the Customers: Wholesalers and Retailers.
- Determine the Inputs required for the process: The following are the inputs required at various stages of operations.
- Potato chips and raw chocolate blocks
- Coating ingredients
- Chocolate Paste & Ingredients
- Chocolate Chips
- Properly tempered chocolate chips
- Identify the Suppliers: The following are the suppliers – Draino Inc and Coco Ingredients Inc provide inputs for the manufacturing unit.
- Validate diagram: Finally, Validate it with relevant stakeholders within the organization.