What is it: SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, output, and customers. Obtain inputs from suppliers, add value through your process, and provide an output that meets or exceeds your customer's requirements. A SIPOC diagram is a tool used by a team to identify all relevant elements of a process improvement project before work begins. It helps define a complex project that may not be well scoped, and is typically employed at the Measure phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology. It is similar and related to "Process Mapping" and "In/Out-Of-Scope" tools, but provides additional detail.
Why use it: A SIPOC diagram should be used during the early stages of an improvement program as a means of capturing sufficient detail to be able to convey the process visually. SIPOC diagrams are beneficial as they:
Where to use it: When starting an improvement project – many make the mistake of not understanding the end-to-end process which can result in a failure to understand all the issues and develop robust improvement plans. A SIPOC diagram is such a map that pulls together input and output information regarding the business process.
When to use it: The SIPOC tool is particularly useful when it is not clear:
How to use it: The tool name prompts the team to consider the Suppliers (the 'S' in SIPOC) of your process, the Inputs (the 'I') to the process, the Process (the 'P') your team is improving, the Outputs (the 'O') of the process, and the Customers (the 'C') that receive the process outputs. In some cases, Requirements of the Customers can be appended to the end of the SIPOC for further detail.
SIPOC diagrams are often bourne out of brainstorming sessions – the improvement team will typically start with the process map and work outwords – brainstorming key inputs and outputs, customers and suppliers. Elements of each part of the SIPOC diagram can than be prioritized.