What Is SIPOC? How to Use a SIPOC Diagram

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When you’re discussing business processes it’s often best to do it visually. There is something about a SIPOC diagram that shows the whole process in such a way that makes it easily understood by your team.

SIPOC helps focus the discussion with your team and helps them agree on what work is going to go forward. It can also help with improving processes. Let’s take a closer look at what SIPOC is, examples of its use in real life and how to make a SIPOC diagram.

What Is SIPOC?

SIPOC is an acronym that stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. In practical terms, SIPOC is a process mapping and improvement method that summarizes the inputs and outputs of one or more processes using a SIPOC diagram. Some organizations use the opposite acronym COPIS, which puts the customer requirements first and illustrates the value of the customer to the organization.

The term SIPOC originates from the 1980s and is part of the total quality movement. Today you’ll find SIPOC as a part of the Six Sigma, lean manufacturing and business process management disciplines.

Project management software can help you collect all the elements for your SIPOC and then organize them into a plan of action. ProjectManager is a cloud-based work and project management software that helps you organize tasks to better execute them. Our multiple project view lets you work how you want. For example, you can gather all the data from your SIPOC in a task list and then assign tasks, set priorities and even see the status of the work once it begins.

List view in ProjectManager
ProjectManager has multiple project views, such as a robust task list. Learn More!

SIPOC Elements

Following the acronym, let’s start with what is either the first or last letters: suppliers and customers. These might be internal or external to the organization. The inputs and outputs of the process might be materials, services or information.

The focus is on capturing the set of inputs or outputs rather than the individual steps of the process.

  • Suppliers: Providers of inputs into a process.
  • Inputs: Resources, such as materials, needed to complete the process.
  • Process: Steps that convert inputs to outputs.
  • Outputs: Product or service created from the process.
  • Customers: Recipients of outputs.

Those elements are then collected in a SIPOC diagram. Let’s learn what a SIPOC diagram is, and how to create one.

What Is a SIPOC Diagram?

A SIPOC diagram is a visual process mapping. It’s a process map that shows how the project goals will be accomplished. It’s a way to make sure that the team and leadership all are on the same page about the business process and customer requirements.

How to Create a SIPOC Diagram

The SIPOC diagram is an important visual tool that is easy to create. It helps to define who supplies the input to the process, what raw materials are placed in the inputs, the customer requirements of the process and more. First, you have to choose a business process that will benefit from creating a SIPOC. Then to create a SIPOC diagram, follow these steps.

1. Identify Suppliers

Who are the suppliers that will provide you with the materials you need for your inputs? They should be listed here. There might be a different supplier for each input. If that’s the case, list them all. By supplier, we mean anyone who has a direct impact on the outputs.

2. Identify Inputs

Now you want to identify the raw materials and other resources needed for your business process to work. You don’t have to list every single one, only those that are important, overarching inputs.

3. Outline the Process

This is an overview of the business process. Only list the four or five high-level steps that consist of actions and subjects. This is like the starting and ending points in the process or it could be a simple flowchart.

4. Define Outputs

Use nouns to describe the outputs. These can be materials, products, services or information.

5. Identify Customers

Define who will want or who you are targeting with the outputs in your business process. A customer doesn’t have to be external, they can be coworkers, board members, etc.

6. Analyze Customer Requirements

What are the process measurements or requirements for the product, service or information? These are usually determined by the customer or a regulatory body.

Related: Free Requirements Gathering Template

SIPOC Example

Here’s a simple SIPOC example: the creation of a healthy smoothie. To begin, create a table with five columns for the five words that make up the SIPOC acronym. First, there’s the supplier, who is tasked with creating a smoothie for a customer. To do so there must be a smoothie preparer, a store owner where that person works, a kitchen manager and an order taker.

That leads to the inputs, which are first the request, or order, of the smoothie. Then there’s the recipe to make it, the receipt to acknowledge the sale, the countertop to interact with the customer and other equipment. That includes a blender and probably a timer of some sort. And, of course, whatever ingredients are required to create the smoothie.

Now we’re getting to the process. It starts by receiving and preparing the order and ingredients, which must be clean, cut and sorted. Then blend those ingredients as required by the recipe. You’ll probably want to test the order before you notify the customer that the order is complete.

The output of this process is the completed purchase, the order, and hopefully, a delicious smoothie and a happy customer. You provide the receipt, and they might give you a tip for good service. This finally leads us to the customer, who entered your establishment with a need, in this case, hunger. But there’s also the smoothie preparer and even the store owner, who is a customer when out buying the ingredients.

Pro-Tip: To improve the quality of your process, consider creating automation for your task statuses, and designate specific people to approve tasks and products. Workflow automation software can help.

In this video, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explains what SIPOC is and the SIPOC example above.

Project management training video (lhvlz24beo)

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

learn about SIPOC and SIPOC diagrams

SIPOC FAQ

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about SIPOC, we hope they’re helpful for you.

What are the SIPOC requirements?

The term SIPOC requirements make reference to the constraints, measurements and customer requirements of a SIPOC model.

What is a SIPOC map?

A SIPOC map or SIPOC diagram documents the suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers of a business process.

ProjectManager & SIPOC

SIPOC is a great tool to diagram the inputs and outputs in your business process. But once everyone is on the same page you’re going to need to plan, execute and monitor that project. ProjectManager is award-winning work and project management software that has multiple project views that allow everyone to work how they want, no matter where they are, how they work or even if they’re in a different department.

Make Plans That Meet Customer Requirements

Organize all the tasks that you need to create the product or service your customers want with our online Gantt charts. They put your project on a visual timeline so you can see the whole schedule in one place, link dependencies and set milestones. You can also filter for the critical path and create a baseline to measure actual progress against your plan to keep on track.

ProjectManager Gantt chart

Monitor Business Processes With Kanban Boards

Once the team starts to execute their tasks managers get visibility into their process with our kanban boards. If there’s a potential bottleneck, managers can easily reallocate resources and keep their teams working. Teams get the autonomy to manage their backlog and plan sprints together with our collaborative platform.

ProjectManager's kanban board

Get Real-Time Updates on Progress and Performance

Keep updated on progress with real-time dashboards that collect live data and automatically display it in colorful graphs that monitor six project metrics. It’s like an instant status report at your fingertips. Better yet, there’s no setup required as with inferior software.

ProjectManager’s dashboard

Our software also has one-click reports that can be filtered and easily shared with stakeholders. Custom workflows and task automation help you control the business process. While email notifications and in-app alerts update you on any comments, shared files or updates to the tasks. Fulfill your SIPOC with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software that connects hybrid teams and helps them collaborate to work more productively. No matter where you work or when you work we keep you connected. Join the teams at NASA, Siemens and Nestle that have used our tool to deliver success. Get started with ProjectManager today for free!

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