The term SIPOC is an acronym for supplier, input, process, output and customer. It is a process documentation tool that complements a process diagram (boxes and arrows) and helps drive out the important and seemingly nebulous details of a process.
Here’s an example that illustrates the process related to making my beautiful, lovely wife a cup of tea. Starting from the middle, the process, think about the inputs that go into making a cup of tea, and who supplies them; and think about the process outputs for your customer.
Note the detailed inputs. The last two seem either obvious or unnecessary but they are included for completeness. (Please leave comments if you think I left something out.)
This is a great start. It’s clear who is supplying the inputs and what are the outputs the customer will consume. But let’s take it a step further. In the next version, I have listed out the detailed steps in the process “Make a cup of tea” and added what are known as input and output CTQs. These are the specific, measurable details which are “critical to quality”.
They say “happy wife, happy life” so before making my wife a cup of tea I need to identify my customer’s detailed input and output requirements. One cannot assume they know these: you have to ask your customer.
Notice that while my wife needs tea, she requires Twinnings Irish Breakfast, boiling water, three Splendas, etc. Similarly, the output must be very white and creamy with the bag in, etc.
A SIPOC is a great tool when it comes to documenting processes and I highly recommend it. Please contact me if you would like to talk about documenting your existing and proposed organizational processes with process diagrams and SIPOCs.