Tag Archives: SIPOC

Clarity Applies to Processes Too

SIPOC

Our previous post focused on performance management and on how important it is for managers to express clear expectations when engaged in the practice.

Along similar lines, ‘clarity’ applies to processes too.

In fact, over the past fifty years, a tremendous number of analysis and problem-solving tools have been developed and are available to deploy in the unending quest for clarity, with the end goals being better service to customers and producing greater value with less waste.

In today’s world, the efficiency and efficacy of continuous improvement depends on selecting the best analysis and problem-solving tool at the right time; and, perhaps, the most important tools for success start with scoping.

SIPOC: Defining and Scoping Improvement Projects
One of the most valuable tools early on to effectively define the process, problem, and project is the SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers).

Some organizations always start with the SIPOC to get the team on the same page so they can answer:

  • What is the process?
  • Its purpose (why are we doing this)?
  • Who owns the process (surprisingly sometimes not obvious/known)?
  • Who are the customers/suppliers?
  • Who is the primary customer?
  • What do they get out of the process or provide for the process?

Once the team members have achieved clarity and a shared high-level understanding of the process using the SIPOC, and have gathered the data that enables them to measure the gap between the current situation and the ideal, they can create a good problem statement, objective, scope, and timetable.

These together are key components of a Project Charter, the ‘North Star’ of a project that helps keep the project moving forward to successful completion.

Defining & Scoping Improvement Projects

SIPOC

An earlier post referenced one of our founder Bill Conway’s favorite quotes, “The most important business decision people make every day, is deciding what to work on.”

This pearl of wisdom applies to all forms of work, and is certainly critically important when it comes to initiating an improvement project. Various tools have been developed to help people better define improvement initiatives, one of which is SIPOC, an acronym formed in the early days of TQM and one that continues to be used today in Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, and business process management..

SIPOC enables people to effectively define the process, problem, and project early on to ensure they are, in fact, working on the right things. The acronym stands for:

Suppliers
Inputs
Process
Outputs
Customers

Some organizations always start with the SIPOC to get the team on the same page so they can answer six important questions:

  • What is the process?
  • Its purpose (why are we doing this)?
  • Who owns the process (surprisingly sometimes not obvious/known)?
  • Who are the customers/suppliers?
  • Who is the primary customer?
  • What do they get out of the process or provide for the process?

Once the questions above have been answered people can focus on the high level process flow and the process measures for each step by answering five more questions:

  • What’s the ideal?
  • Is the data available?
  • Are we already measuring it?
  • What is the goal?
  • What is the impact?

Once the team members have a shared high-level understanding of the process using the SIPOC, and have gathered the data that enables them to measure the gap between the current situation and the ideal, they can create a good problem statement, objective, scope, and timetable.

These together are key components of a Project Charter, the ‘North Star’ of a project that helps keep the project moving forward to successful completion.

The Right Tool for the Job?

It’s been said that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Such is not the challenge we face today! Over the past 50 years, a tremendous number of analysis and problem-solving tools have been developed and are available to deploy in the unending quest for better service to customers, producing greater value with less waste. In today’s world, the efficiency and efficacy of continuous improvement depends on selecting the best analysis and problem-solving tool at the right time.

Perhaps the most important tools for success start in the scoping.

Defining and Scoping Improvement Projects
One of the most valuable tools early on to effectively define the process, problem, and project is the SIPOC:

  • Suppliers
  • Inputs
  • Process
  • Outputs
  • Customers

Some organizations always start with the SIPOC to get the team on the same page so they can answer six important questions:

  1. What is the process?
  2. Its purpose (why are we doing this)?
  3. Who owns the process (surprisingly sometimes not obvious/known)?
  4. Who are the customers/suppliers?
  5. Who is the primary customer?
  6. What do they get out of the process or provide for the process?

And then there is a lot of learning about the high level process flow and the process measures for each step.

What’s the ideal? Is the data available?

Are we already measuring it?

What is the goal? What is the impact?

Once the team members have a shared high-level understanding of the process using the SIPOC, and have gathered the data that enables them to measure the gap between the current situation and the ideal, they can create a good problem statement, objective, scope, and timetable.

These together are key components of a Project Charter, the ‘North Star’ of a project that helps keep the project moving forward to successful completion.

Increase the Pace of Continuous Improvement Via Process Examination

perception2Recent posts have focused on the importance of quantifying waste and opportunities for improvement before launching improvement projects.

Otherwise, we risk working on the wrong things because there is typically very little correlation between the ad-hoc ideas for improvement (perception) and the biggest problems or opportunities for improvement that actually exist within the organization (reality).

This post will focus on the “Process Examination” approach, which involves creating a value map to identify inventory pileups, bottlenecks, delays, and so on.

One effective method of accomplishing this is to create a SIPOC diagram, which is  a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end by listing:

  • Suppliers
  • Inputs
  • Process
  • Outputs
  • Customers

The SIPOC diagram will enable you to determine high level process flow, identifying each key input and output of each process.

Once you have these identified, you list the quality criteria for each input and output, select an importance factor for each criterion and select how well it is met — or not!