Process mapping and improvement is one of those business practices that should be done regularly. It’s not that your processes are bad. In fact, they’re probably very appropriate for your business. But, there is always room for improvement.
These process improvements could be everything from bringing in a new tool to further streamline how you work to a solution that puts more of a focus on customers (and everybody loves happy customers).
Not surprisingly, as more and more businesses look to improve the way they work, there is no shortage of ways that you can fix things. SIPOC is one way you improve things, with an emphasis on improving the customer experience.
What does SIPOC stand for?
SIPOC is a visual tool that helps you assess and define a business process from a high level based on
suppliers, inputs, process, outputs,
(which is where the acronym comes from).
SIPOC diagrams help you understand the connection between what your customers are asking for and what you receive from your suppliers. You end up with something that looks similar to what’s below.
Sometimes, you’ll see SIPOC referred to as COPIS. This is the same general idea, just backwards, customers, outputs, process, inputs, and suppliers. When you reverse the order, you put an initial focus on the customers, rather than starting with the raw goods you’re receiving.
Here’s a closer look at how SIPOC breaks things down.
These are the people you rely on to create the products you sell to customers. If you’re a clothing company, your suppliers are where you get the raw goods that become the clothes you sell (they may even be where you get clothes from directly before selling them).
The raw materials that you’re working with. For the clothing company we talked about above, this would be cloth and other material required to make the clothing, but it would also be clothing patterns and designs from the designers themselves.
A quick play by play of how the raw materials become your product. An example would be: the cloth is ordered, patterns are followed, clothes are made, clothes are sold via your website.
This is the final product that you sell to the customer. In our example, it’s clothing that’s sold and shipped via your website.
These are the people who you sell to. You probably have a very specific idea of information like who these people are, why they like your products what their preferences are, and how they prefer to shop. You can include as much of this customer information here as you think is relevant.
SIPOC helps because it gives you a high-level look at what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for. It’s broken down into easy to reference sections that guide you through your process.
Even as a high-level process, you can often see places where you could improve how you’re working because you’re able to see what the various dependencies are with your process. You can even get a sense of what tools you could bring in to further improve the way you serve customers (especially if you put customers first with COPIS).
How is SIPOC used in project management and business?
SIPOC gives you a tool to map out your business process to learn how you’re serving your customers, where there’s room for improvement, and if there are any areas where you’re losing money (or not making as much as you could be).
Because it’s visual, SIPOC also is an excellent tool for helping new staff or team members quickly understand what the workflow looks like from a high-level.
Create business process map
SIPOC gives you a clear, condensed view of how you’re working. Each step of the diagram shows what you’re supposed to be doing (or the materials that you’re working with). You can do it with your business as a whole or use it to break down specific tasks or processes in your business (like shipping and receiving, for example or what the process for interacting with customers looks like). This map can be used as a way to better understand the key drivers in your business using a template
that incorporates a business map.
Illustrate a big picture of end-to-end business processes
Having a complete, high-level look at your business practices is never a bad thing. SIPOC analysis helps you understand what the major elements of your workflow are visually. This, in turn, can be used for everything from training to showcasing your approach to business for investors.
Increase operational transparency
Operational transparency is increasingly important to consumers. Many people are concerned with not only where the products they consume come from, but also with how they’re made. This need to know isn’t limited to food, it’s everything. Customers will use this transparency to find businesses that align with their personal values.
Similarly, investors and stakeholders need a certain amount of transparency, as well, for many of the same reasons. Along with needing to know that they’re investing in a company that shares the same values, being able to see how a business operates helps a lot.
Align goals across the team
SIPOC gives you a chance to see how other departments are working across your company. You get a snapshot of each of the key steps and how those steps are being handled. This lets you make changes that bring all your teams into alignment, usually, with the goal of better serving your customers.
Nothing helps you spot problems like mapping out a process. It’s one of the few times when you’re able to step back from
you’re doing and actually see
you’re doing it. When you step back like that, you can see what aspects of your process aren’t working as well as they could be or even if you’re using tools that aren’t as effective as they could be. These identified problems can be fixed using
to further evaluate things and identify the root cause. Similarly, you should include these problems in an
Similar to finding problems within your process, you can also spot areas that aren’t adding the value that they should be adding. It could be that your e-commerce setup isn’t pulling its weight or maybe you’ve got an entire product line that no one really cares for.
Get started with this SIPOC Diagram template.
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free SIPOC diagram template for your projects and business.
How to create a SIPOC diagram for your business using Coda’s template
Step 1: Defining your company’s core business
page you can add in the details of your business and what you are trying to achieve. This qualitative planning will allow for everyone on your team to understand the bigger picture in SIPOC planning and will allow you and your team to thoroughly plan.
You can also add in team members that are a part of your business in the
table by clicking the
Add Team Member
button. On this table you can fill out details for your team members.
Step 2: SIPOC Diagram & Process
In the next step, on the
page we can add in different components of our SIPOC process. By clicking the
button you can add in different parts of the SIPOC diagram to better plan your business.
Along with that, you can create a
. In this table you can identify how each of the raw materials flows from being an input to an output to landing into a customer’s hands as a final product.
What is SIPOC in Six Sigma?
SIPOC is the six sigma methodology is a process mapping diagram that helps you gain a high-level understanding of a project. It shows you from beginning to end how your customers are getting your products or services.
What is the difference between a SIPOC and a PESTLE?
The big difference between SIPOC and PESTLE is that SIPOC focuses on internal process flows that influence how you serve your customers. PESTLE, on the other hand, examines outside factors that impact your business. PESTLE looks at political, environmental, sociological, technological, legal, environmental influences on your business.
Who is this SIPOC diagram template for?
This free SIPOC template is perfect for anyone who currently uses a spreadsheet for process mapping, as it helps them move into a more user friendly environment. It’s also meant for people who are looking to gain a better understanding of how their business operates, those who want to create stronger training materials, those involved in creating roadmap, and anyone at all who wants to better serve their customers.
What are the limitations of a SIPOC model?
The main shortcoming of SIPOC is the simplicity of it. It’s a high-level view of what’s happening. You can, theoretically, use it to really dig into your processes, but you end up with a document that is pretty recursive as the SIPOC diagrams hone in on the specifics of each process. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it’s not the most efficient way to assess your processes. It’s a strong starting point, though, and can be followed by something
to identify ways to improve.