Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A good start to understanding the context of a situation is to learn how things fit together. Figure out the process as it is currently, who’s involved, how things happen, etc. This is the first stage of process mapping.

A fundamental tool for process mapping is named SIPOC. This is an acronym for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers.

 | - Suppliers - | - Inputs - | - Process - | - Outputs - | - Customers - |

The SIPOC expands and adapts to new learning.  Discussions can trigger different SIPOC tables for other related processes.

  • Begin with a process name.
  • Briefly describe the purpose and general expectation.
  • Name the person who is responsible for the process.
  • List the outputs and the customers of the process. Customers are whoever receives the output (not just users of the output).
  • Identify the inputs and the sources of the inputs. Input is the information, service, trigger, material, & equipment used by the process. These can include relevant conditions, such as temperature, humidity, or air pressure.
  • List the sequence of activities performed during processing (no more than 10 steps). Include any decision points. Especially note the first and last process step.
“Process” activities are sometimes the most natural starting point.
Add information as it is offered. 

Take note of other relevant information:
*  Who are the stakeholders for process changes? Suppliers often control root cause.
*  Capture any ideas for improvements & opportunities.
*  Ask about environmental factors that are external to the process but can affect it.

Limits and boundaries:
*  Are there special criteria for suppliers or customers?
*  Is the process limited to a specific type of input?

Who creates the SIPOC?
It’s a team activity. Preliminary development with the process owner is helpful, but stakeholders will provide more details. Since it represents the process “as it is”, SIPOC content should be uniformly acceptable to the team. 
*  Prioritize main customers and outputs. (confirmed by voice of customer and established metrics)
*  And then, highlight the inputs essential to those outputs.

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