An interesting and often overlooked continuous improvement tool the SIPOC diagram. SIPOC is an acronym for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers. The goal of this diagram is to aid the kaizen team in quick high-level identification. That is to:
- Identify both the suppliers and customers.
- Identify the scope of the project.
- Identify the results that will satisfy stakeholders with regards to the problem.
- Identify the proper metrics for verifying that the customer’s needs.
- Identify who should participate in the kaizen team.
Completion of the SIPOC involves filling in the relevant data through the following steps:
- Process – List the process steps, keeping detail to a minimum by only outlining five to eight steps. When describing the process steps, try to limit the description to two words. Have each description start with a verb (action) and end with a noun (subject).
- Output – Record what information, data, report, material, etc. comes out of this process, or is produced as a result of this process.
- Customers – Record who or what receives the outputs of the process.
- Inputs – Determine what data, supplies, systems, tools, etc. are required for the process, or who is needed to perform the various steps in the process.
- Suppliers – Determine who or what supplies inputs for the process. The supplier can include organizations, systems, databases, individuals, etc.
Typically a quick exercise, a SIPOC is often all that is needed to move forward with an improvement project. If more detail is needed, a SIPOC provides a foundation for detailed process maps such as Swim Lane Process Maps.