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.