SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) is a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end. SIPOC (pronounced sigh-pock) diagrams are also referred to as high level process maps because they do not contain much detail.
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SIPOC diagrams are useful for focusing a discussion and helping team members agree upon a common language and understanding of a process for continuous improvement. In Six Sigma, SIPOC is often used during the “define” phase of the DMAIC improvement steps.
Here is an example of how a continuous improvement team might use a SIPOC diagram for a simple process, such as feeding the family dog. The diagram can be created rather quickly by drawing a chart with five columns. Each column is labeled, from left to right, with the letters SIPOC or the words suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers.
During a brainstorming session, team members often fill in SIPOC charts by starting with the center column, process. The process column is kept simple; ideally it lists no more than five steps and each step consists of an action and a subject (verb/noun).
Once the team agrees upon how the process has been documented, they move on to list the outcomes and customers of the process. Then they work backwards from the center of the diagram to identify the input and suppliers. Because SIPOC diagrams are often completed in this manner, they are sometimes referred to as POCIS (process, output, customers, inputs, suppliers) diagrams.
Systems2win demonstrates how to create a SIPOC chart for a business process.