A SIPOC diagram is the first step on the way to a process map. 

As you know, SIPOC stands for: Supplier, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers. 

Much has been written about making a SIPOC, and there are many YouTube video examples.

However, some of them do not use realistic examples. And in some cases, they give wrong information. Still others fail to mention some of the issues involved and how they can be resolved.

The short YouTube video linked at the end of this blog does a good job on many aspects. Kurt Hanft uses a realistic medication dispensing example. 

We’ll provide a link to the video after we cover it and some other important points about SIPOCs.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • A SIPOC is useful in scoping a project. Do the beginning and end points encompass the problem you are trying to solve and no more?
  • Start with the Process first. Only include a few high-level process steps. The aim is to look at the bigger picture and make sure everyone is focused on the same problem.
  • Next look at the Outputs. Remember, you are concerned with the outputs that occur AFTER the process is complete. Don’t get bogged down by looking at the outputs of each step that are the inputs of the next. Some practitioners err in this.
  • After listing the outputs, consider who the Customers are for the process. Your customers will determine your requirements. And as you list your customers, two things may happen. One, you may discover that you missed some outputs. And two, you may realize that some customers must be involved directly in your project.
  • Now go to the Inputs. What are the inputs that are required for this process to be successful? Don’t neglect information as an input.
  • Finally, address the Suppliers. Who provides the inputs to your process? Are there any that need to be added to your stakeholders? Just as we might have found some customers that should be included in the project, do any suppliers need to be included?
  • A SIPOC is a key part of the Define Phase. 
  • A completed SIPOC is an important communication tool that can be used with sponsors and other audiences.

Now to a key point not mentioned in the video that will be an important help in the Measure phase.

You have listed the key inputs and outputs. Each of these should have a metric associated with it. In fact, it is useful to add columns for metrics right after the inputs and outputs.

  • If an input or output does not have a metric, you must develop one. 
  • If a metric is not quantitative, what can be done to replace it with a pertinent quantitative measure? 
  • What are the specifications for each metric? If there are none, you must set them.
  • The list of metrics will be needed when you conduct measurement systems analyses.

Check out Kurt Hanft’s video!