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Defining a process with SIPOC

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A SIPOC Diagram is a visual representation of a high-level process map; including suppliers & inputs into the process and outputs & customers of the process. Visually communicates the scope of a project.

SIPOC is an acronym standing for

  1. S              =             Supplier(s)
  2. I               =             Input(s) & key requirements
  3. P             =             Process
  4. O             =             Output(s) & key requirements
  5. C             =             Customer(s)

How can SIPOC be used? 

SIPOC can be used to define the scope and boundaries of your project.  It helps communicate inside and outside an organization.If a project scope has already been defined, SIPOC can validate the accuracy of the scope.If you are following the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) problem-solving methodology, SIPOC is introduced in the Define phase of the project 

A SIPOC helps teams verify that

  • inputs match outputs of upstream processes
  • outputs match inputs of downstream processes

To understand SIPOC break into small groups of 3-4 people.  Take 5-8 minutes and brainstorm how, when, and where SIPOC can be used in your organization.Have each group briefly report back on their discussion.SIPOC is a precursor to creating more detailed process maps and value-stream maps. 

How does a SIPOC works?

Key point on forming a team to develop a SIPOC Diagram:  Involve a cross-section of those who work with the process to create the diagram.  No single person will have all the process knowledge you need.


To construct a SIPOC diagram, begin with a high level process map, usually consisting of four to five steps. Then list outputs of the process, followed by the customers who receive the outputs. Then turn your attention to the front end of the SIPOC, with a listing of the inputs to the process and their suppliers.  (ASQ Certification Board Puts Quality Tools to Work.  Scott A Laman, Elizabeth Burns, Kathy L Lynn.  Quality Progress. Milwaukee: Mar 2007. Vol. 40, Iss. 3; pg. 54, 9 pgs)

Reminder: Be very clear about where the process starts and where the process ends.  This should align with and help define your project scope.Keep the process map to the highest level.  Don’t be tempted to dive too deeply into process steps at this point.  Keep it to 4-5 steps.The process you choose for your project may be a subset of a larger process or a standalone process.


Step 2: List all the outputs from the process


Step3: Identify the customers receiving the output


Step 4: List all the inputs into the process


Step 5: Identify the suppliers of the process inputs


SIPOC has three typical uses depending on the audience:

  • To give people who are unfamiliar with a process a high-level overview
  • To reacquaint people whose familiarity with a process has faded or become out-of-date due to process changes
  • To help people in defining a new process


                       Image Source: (Example)Wikipedia

Author: Kaizen Institute - India!

Kaizen Institute – India is part of the Global Kaizen Institute operations. Kaizen Institute was established by Sensei Masaaki Imai, the GURU of Kaizen. He wrote the 1st book 28 yrs ago and that is when it all started . We operate in 30+ countries today and have over 400+ coaches helping more then 600 organizations Learn, Apply, Sustain – Kaizen/ Operational Excellence. In India we have two physical offices – Pune & Ahmedabad and 27 coaches in all.

One thought on “Defining a process with SIPOC

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