To understand where opportunities exist within a process you need to make the process visual. There are a number of ways to accomplish this task. You can create and end-to-end Value Stream Map (VSM), a Process Map or a SIPOC. In subsequent blog posts I will review the components & benefits of the VSM and the standard process map. For now I would like to share how a SIPOC can be effective in understanding process elements and get you off to a good start in your continuous improvement effort.
Simply, a SIPOC refers to: Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. These elements break out into the following:
Suppliers – Providers of information, data, materials to the process
Inputs – What specifically is being provided? Reports, eMails, nuts, bolts, applications, etc…
Process – In five (5) to 10 high level steps, summarize how the process flows. Each flow step must be actionable (start with a verb) and typically does not include decisions but merely task steps*
Outputs – A listing of the outputs that are generated from the process. These could be reports, data, yes / no decisions, audits, defects, completed applications, etc…
Customers – A listing of who in the end receives the completed product or service. This could be internal departments, managers, executives, regulatory agencies, real Customers, Members, etc…
*-Most CI Consultants recommend that to build an effective SIPOC you must start with the Customer. I take a different approach in that you should start in the middle…articulate the process, understand it, map it and then work from left to right (suppliers through the Customer).
To supplement the value of SIPOC’s I recommend that three additional components be added to the bottom:
Systems – A listing of the systems that interface or are used with the specified process
Triggers – A bullet listing of those things that trigger events for the process to begin or take additional steps. Not “War and Peace” but quick bullets of what makes the process move or actionable
Volumes / Metrics – Helpful information that provide measures to the process. Daily volumes, number of FTE’ supporting the process, Quality Results & requirements, etc…
While there a many variations of SIPOC’s the completed product is a single page that can be used in many ways. It can be a quick training tool, or used for an executive process overview, or as mentioned it can be used as a critical step in mapping out a current state process flow for CI purposes.
Here is an example of a SIPOC: