A SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer) is an effective method to generate a high level process map to document a process. Also commonly written as COPIS, which puts the customer first and enforces a deeper focus on the customer’s needs over the organization’s process.
When to Use a SIPOC
The purpose of this tool is to identify at a fairly high level, the most relevant five to six steps of a process – this is an effective way to quickly coordinate a team’s activities and focus. If you have a process with steps A, B, C, D, E – and you only want to focus on steps C and D, you quickly map out all steps, A to E, and state that only steps C and D are in scope for this project. Mapping a process is a key step in identifying decision support systems to drive improvements.
SIPOC is an Acronym meaning,
- Supplier: Whomever provides the input into the process
- Input: Material (physical or data) sent to process for action
- Process: Action placed on the material to satisfy the customer’s requirement. This is where the action happens.
- Output: Resulting transformed material from the process per the customer’s requirement
- Customer: Process output recipient, may be internal or external. Also defines the requirements for the output. The external customer is the final user that initiated the process, where an internal customer may be someone else within the organization that further refines the output in additional processes for the external customer.
How to Use a SIPOC,
A good practice when process mapping is to begin at the customer and essentially answer the below questions. This method of starting at the process end builds a customer centric map potentially reducing the addition of bias into the analysis.
- Who is the customer?
- What is the customer requesting?
- How s this request fulfilled?
- What materials and information are needed?
- Who supplies these materials?
NOTE: It may be useful at the end of creating a SIPOC beginning at the customer, re-write the process beginning with your organization’s process and identify non-value added inputs and processes for improvement or elimination.
While completing a SIPOC, you will find many processes with multiple inputs on a single map. See the below example on a completed SIPOC for a forged combination wrench.
In the above example, you can quickly see the high level process for creating the wrenches. Also, you may notice multiple customers including a secondary customer segment, “Metal Recycler”. In this process, you can identify where each output of the process is going by separating the products.
3D SIPOC – Great for Internal Customer Management
Let’s say you have a very long process with many inputs and outputs throughout and you desire to have more details on your map. In this case, you can use a 3D SIPOC where each column represents a different process (Let’s call these swimlanes). Each of these swimlanes functions just as the previously described SIPOC where there is a supplier, input, process, output, and customer. In this case, the customer of one process, may become the supplier for the next. This is a great tool for managing internal process mapping.
With a mapped process enables many opportunities to be uncovered to drive improvements. The first step to achieve quick and early benefits is through removing the 8 Wastes that exist within every process. Identify future opportunities through creatively redefining the problem areas. How a problem is defined often dictates the solution. Therefore, develop a strong problem statement to achieve the most effective results.