If you want to improve a process, then you need to understand it first. One of the commonly used tools is a SIPOC Diagram to understand the process at a high level. In the Six Sigma DMAIC approach, this tool is typically used to understand the process and define the issue in the Define stage.
The acronym SIPOC stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output and Customer.
The diagram shows how each party interacts with the system or product. For example, the supplier provides raw materials and submits an invoice for payment; the customer purchases the product and pays for it; the product goes through various processing stages before reaching the customer. Each step in the process has its input, output and result. By understanding these steps, we can identify what needs improvement.
A good way to start creating your SIPOC Diagrams is by looking at the flow of products from suppliers to customers. If there are many different parties involved in the transaction, it would be helpful to list them all on the diagram.
A supplier is a party that provides goods or services to the customer. The term "supplier" can refer to any business entity that sells products or services to another party.
Input is something that goes into the process of making a product. It could be anything from raw material to labour. An input might be tangible or intangible. In the case of a manufacturing company, inputs may include raw materials, components, parts, etc.
Once the factory has received the inputs, they will go through various processes until they reach the finished product. These processes might include cleaning, sorting, assembling, testing, packaging, shipping, billing, etc.
A process is a series of steps taken by one or more entities to create the desired result. A process usually involves several inputs and produces at least one output.
What happens as a result of the entire process? This result is what the customer receives when they buy the finished product. An output is what comes out of the process. For example, if you are baking bread, your output will be the loaf of bread. If you are building a house, your output will be the completed structure.
In most cases, the customer is the person who buys the final product. They receive the finished product and pay for it. However, sometimes the customer is also the end-user of the product.
One of the key takeaways of the SIPOC Diagram is that it helps us see the whole picture. As mentioned earlier, the purpose of a SIPOC Diagram is to help us understand the process to make improvements. When we look at the SIPOC Diagraph, we can see the entire process.
As mentioned above, the SIPOC Diagram is mainly used in the Define phase of the DMAIC methodology.