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SIPOC Diagram For Quality Management And Improvement Solution

Learn how to use a SIPOC diagram to improve productivity and efficiency when providing services. Get to the bottom of the problem by examining each step along the way to a faster, more profitable tomorrow. Document business processes using the SIPOC method and use a checklist to ensure consistent compliance.

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What Is the SIPOC Method?

The SIPOC method is a tool used in process management with the aim to improve productivity and efficiency by streamlining business procedures. Process improvement terminology is a case where the definition is already in its name, but it might be helpful to know just what are the specific processes that require improvement.

In regards to the SIPOC method, these actions basically include every task, material, and personnel that goes into making a product or service and are known in the industry jargon as inputs and outputs. An easy way to think of inputs and outputs is everything that goes into a service and everything that comes out of serving at its completion

The acronym SIPOC stands for the column names of a SIPOC diagram:

  • S - Supplier
  • I - Inputs
  • P - Process
  • O - Output
  • C - Customer

Such a diagram can be used for different purposes:

  1. Give new employees a general overview of standard operating procedures (SOP).
  2. Refresh or update the process knowledge of employees.
  3. As a basis for the formulation of new processes or the improvement of existing processes.

How is the SIPOC Method Related to Six Sigma?

Originally, the SIPOC method was developed for the Six-Sigma methodology. SIPOC is used within the Six Sigma method during the phase of the process where improvements are made. Six Sigma refers to the six standard deviations found within a bell curve that’s primarily used to represent the data’s mean, median, and mode in statistics and economics. There it is used in the defined phase of a project. With the SIPOC diagram, business process managers illustrate the end-to-end process of certain business functions and operations in order to decrease waste and therefore cost while simultaneously increasing quality.

Motorola Inc. invented the SIPOC method in the late 1980s in response to the total quality movement, which arose as a philosophical concept concentrating on providing the highest quality products and services with the ultimate goal to inspire customer loyalty.

Several other methods were invented by businesses who incorporated total quality management as their business philosophy, strategy, and culture. These concepts include, the 5 Whys Method, Gap Analysis, Root Cause Analysis, 8D Approach, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, Kaizen Approach. Six Sigma, Business Process Management, and Lean Manufacturing—they are all interrelated analyses conducted to identify, address, and improve problems and existing processes in order to increase employee productivity.

A SIPOC template is therefore used to create a SIPOC model. It contains 5 sections for each aspect. With its help, process managers can more easily outline internal or external business processes.

This article informs about the following topics:

1. Use a SIPOC template

2. Steps to complete the SIPOC diagram

3. The similarities and differences of process mapping and SIPOC

4. The difference between SIPOC and SIPOC-R

5. Digital SIPOC template for greater efficiency

Team anaylizing SIPOC diagrams

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What Is Each Step in a Sipoc Diagram and How Are They Defined?

The SIPOC diagram is a versatile tool for business processes that can be used in practice by any type of company. It is easiest to start by listing the process steps. In the SIPOC method, the elements of an SOP are divided into five categories to provide a rough overview of a business process. It is not a matter of carrying out a detailed process analysis.

1. Supplier

The first point in the SIPOC diagram refers to an internal or external unit. This initiates the processing of requests and effectively serves as a supplier of input. In a restaurant, for example, this can be the customer who places an order.

The questions that process managers should ask themselves here are those about internal and external suppliers: Who provides the input factors?

2. Input

Input refers to the requests or work orders provided by the supplier. In a restaurant, an external input would be the food order by the customer. In contrast, the assistant chief who supports the head chef would be an internal input.

In this process step you may ask yourself which input factors are necessary to perform it: information, materials, machines or services ?

3. Process

The process refers to the standard procedures used by employees to fulfill a request from a supplier. In a restaurant, for example, this is the cook who prepares a dish in response to a customer's order. It is therefore important to ask yourself which standard procedure should be used.

4. Output

The output is the final result after the supplier's input has gone through the standard process. The question that process managers ask themselves in this section of the SIPOC chart is the question of the result. In a restaurant, for example, this is the finished dish that is served to the guest.

The output can be material, such as a finished product, components, or assemblies, or immaterial, such as processed information in the form of a document (order confirmations, environmental reports, etc.).

5. Customer

In this process step, a distinction is also made between external and internal customers. It is asked when the result is actually produced. In a restaurant, for example, it is the guest who has received and eaten the ordered dish. It also serves as a vendor. However, this does not always have to be the case.

It is useful to note down the departments or persons who carry out the process for each step of the process so that it is immediately clear who is responsible for the process.

How to Complete the Steps of a SIPOC Diagram With an Example?

A SIPOC diagram can help companies of all kinds to standardize both external and internal processes. It just needs to be done correctly. Using the SIPOC method helps employees to work more efficiently by concentrating on the essentials. To do this, all unnecessary steps are removed from the process.

The following steps will help you to use the SIPOC model successfully in your company:

  1. Create the map in such a way that all the employees can contribute to the diagram by making their own additions. This can be an extra area in the diagram, space for inserting notes etc.
  2. The great thing about the SIPOC method is that it will always be presented in a chart, graph, or table format. That way, everyone on the team can visualize their individual role in successfully providing a product or service amidst the many moving parts of a business.

  3. Start with outlining the process. Visualize it in the form of four to five high-level steps.
  4. For the intents and purposes of understanding and successfully completing all the steps that go into making a SIPOC diagram, the following example will cover the inputs and outputs that go in and out of running a restaurant business.


    Process: In order to visualize the process, we’ll walk through the customer experience from the moment they take their first step through the door to order a hamburger.

    • A customer is helped to their seat by a hostess
    • The waiter takes their order and delivers it to the kitchen
    • The kitchen uses the necessary ingredients for making a hamburger
    • The waitress takes the hamburger back to the customer where he consumes it
    • The customer pays for the food and tips the waitress
    • Customer leaves feeling satisfied

  5. Define the outputs of the process and the customers that will receive those outputs.
  6. Example:

    Creating an overview of the customer experience will help with identifying the outputs and inputs required for the service.

    The outputs are everything the customer is expecting to receive by the end of the service:

    • Hamburger
    • Ketchup
    • Mustard
    • Salt
    • Napkin
    • Tray
    • Plate

  7. Highlight the inputs required to run the process.
  8. Example:

    The inputs are everything that is required to make a hamburger:

    • Beef
    • Bread
    • Pickles
    • Oil
    • Salt
    • Mustard
    • Lettuce
    • Tomato
    • Stove
    • Check
    • Spatula
    • Recipe
    • Receipt
    • Countertop
    • Timer
    • Tip
    • Happy Customer

  9. Identify both the suppliers of the inputs that are necessary for the process and the preliminary requirements of the customers.
  10. Example:

    Suppliers: A supplier will be the people and services that deliver the inputs that are necessary to fulfill the order.

    • Produce supplier
    • Beef supplier
    • Condiment supplier
    • Restaurant owner
    • Chef
    • Waitress (because she supplies the food to the customer)

    Customers: It’s important to note here, that the customer section doesn’t just refer to the individual making the purchase, but to those who help fulfill the order as well.

    • Final Customer
    • Waitress (because she takes hamburger to final customer)
    • Store Owner (because they buy the ingredients for the hamburger)
    • Cook (because he makes the hamburger for the final customer)

  11. Discuss with the relevant stakeholders for verifying the diagram.
  12. Example:

    In a restaurant setting, the restaurant owner, as well as the staff, would need to verify the diagram so each party is aware of their individual roles and the materials and resources they will need to complete their tasks.

    Co-workers discuss results of SIPOC analysis

    What Is the Difference Between Process Mapping and SIPOC?

    People don’t usually think about routine activities. They go through the motions and don’t give a second thought to whether or not making a hamburger could be done more efficiently. The purpose of writing out the steps of an activity is to actively think about problem areas.

    Expanding on the above example, what if customers at your restaurant are getting disgruntled about the wait time. As a result, your business is suffering because you cannot recuperate the costs of overhead. This is where a SIPOC diagram comes in.

    The first step is to set a goal. In this case, it would be along the lines of reducing wait time by ten minutes. But how do you do that? It would be counterproductive, for instance, to tell employees to go faster without providing any recommendations about how they can increase their speed.

    A SIPOC model or a process map should help isolate problems so that they then may be corrected and wait time can be reduced. But what is a process map and how does it differ from a SIPOC diagram?

    A process map is very similar to a SIPOC diagram, but with a key difference. A process map is a more thorough physical representation of input, process, and output. However, SIPOC is special for its categories of Suppliers and customers.

    There are several categories of process maps whereas SIPOC is the sole contributor. The types of maps include:

    • Basic Flowchart
    • Deployment Maps
    • Detailed Process Maps
    • High Level Process Maps
    • Rendered Process Maps
    • Value Stream Map

    Do You Need to Use Both a SIPOC and a Process Map?

    The decision to use both a SIPOC diagram and a process map will be dependent on your specific needs. If there’s an issue, for example, with long wait times in your restaurant, then it will be prudent to use a SIPOC chart to capitalize on the supplier and customer categories that aren’t included in process maps.

    For instance, if there’s a long wait time for a hamburger because there aren’t enough cooks, then this would fall under the supplier category in the diagram. However, it might be beneficial to use them in tandem with each other, for a SIPOC chart can give a brief overview of the inputs and outputs that can act as foundational material for a process map. Further details can then be added for a wider array of improvement solutions.

    What Does SIPOC-R Mean?

    SIPOC-R is the same thing as a SIPOC diagram, but with an additional step. Additional requirements or specifications will be listed under the inputs and outputs of a SIPOC-R diagram. These requirements could be anything like signatures, dates, times, descriptions, account numbers, etc.

    Digital SIPOC Templates for More Efficiency

    A successful company needs clearly defined and easily understandable SOPs. A mobile application such as Lumiform, with which SIPOC templates can be filled out at any time from anywhere in the team, is a valuable asset for any company.

    The mobile app and desktop software is easy to understand and use. Lumiform offers less complexity in filling out a SIPOC diagram than cumbersome paper and Excel lists. The digital application offers no room for error. This reduces the risk of loss of quality and damage to reputation.

    Lumiform offers these additional advantages when creating a SIPOC diagram:

    • Create your own SIPOC templates from scratch using the flexible form construction kit.
    • Receive real-time data for the SIPOC diagram The updates can be passed on immediately to participants via the app to save time and resources.
    • Simple collaboration via the app to solve problems that arise and improve SIPOC diagrams as quickly as possible.

    Diagram of SIPOC analysis

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