What Is SIPOC? How to Use a SIPOC Diagram


What is SIPOC, and how does one use a SIPOC diagram? It’s a method to improve process, and Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows how it can be used as yet another tool to help you manage your project.

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

learn about SIPOC and SIPOC diagrams

In Review – What Is SIPOC? How to Use a SIPOC Diagram

Jennifer noted that people who are working in process improvement are aware of the acronym SIPOC, but the rest of us could use a lesson.

What Is SIPOC?

SIPOC is a tool that summarizes the inputs and outputs of one or more processes in table form. It’s an acronym that stands for Supplies, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. Some organizations use the opposite acronym COPIS, which puts the customer 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.

Depending on the audience, there are three ways of approaching SIPOC:software for six sigma projects

  1. With an overview of the process for those who are unfamiliar.
  2. With a refresher course to update those who are familiar but rusty.
  3. By redefining the SIPOC approach for those who are familiar already.

Components of SIPOC

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 into 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.

SIPOC Example

To clarify this tool, Jennifer offered a simple 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 is first the request, or order, of the smoothie. Then there’s the recipe to make it, the receipt to acknowledge the sale, the counter top 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.

Which 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: If after learning about SIPOC you’re getting excited about improving process, then check out this post on how to improve business process. The seven tips will prove helpful in becoming more efficient.

Related: What Is Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)?

Thanks for watching!


Today, we’re talking about what is SIPOC and how to use a SIPOC diagram. Well, if you’re involved in process improvement, you’ve heard this term. But if you hadn’t, then let me explain what it is.

So first of all, SIPOC is a tool that summarizes the inputs and outputs of one or more processes in a table format. And what it stands for, it’s an acronym, it stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers.

Sometimes, some organizations call it COPUS, and it’s the opposite, because they wanna emphasize the value of the customers first. So it’s Customers, Outputs, Process, Inputs, and Suppliers.

So the term and the tool came about in the ’80s. it was affiliated with the Total Quality Movement. And today, it’s in use as part of Six Sigma, lean project management, or even BPM which is Business Process Management.

So there are three typical uses depending on the audience. So the first one is those who are unfamiliar with the process and who need an overview of it.

The second one is those who are familiar with the process but just they…because the process fades or changes, they need to be reintroduced.

And then the third one is those who are familiar with the process, but they’re involved in redefining or defining a new process.

So let’s talk about a few of the components. So the suppliers and customers may be internal or external to the organization. And the inputs and outputs may be materials, they may be services, or even information. And then the focus is on capturing the set of inputs and outputs rather than giving details about the process.

So let’s give an example. So I like to keep things simple, so I’m going to give a simple example and you can take this chart and this table and give an example of something you use in your area.

So number 1, again, laying out the table in the side part format. So we’re going to talk about a healthy smoothy. So some of us had heard it, “Like having a smoothy made.”

So let’s talk about the supplier. So the supplier is…there’s a smoothy requester, somebody who comes in and requests it, we call them the customer. Then there’s the smoothy preparer, the one who actually makes the smoothy, the store owner who provides the facility, the kitchen manager, and the order taker.

So the inputs are a smoothy request comes in as an order, and maybe there’s a recipe for the smoothy, a purchase receipt, because a purchase has to be made and completed, the countertop, the blender, and a timer to see how long you gotta time it, and the ingredients. It could be water or juice, ice. It’s healthy, so we’ve gotta have a little bit of spinach or kale in there, bananas, maybe some kind of berries, and maybe like honey or ginger.

So these inputs go through a process. So some of the processes could look like someone receives the order, they prepare the order. They also prepare or prep the ingredients. They clean them, they cut them, they sort them. They also blend, so one of the process is they blend the ingredients. They test the order to make sure it meets the needs of the customer. And they notify that the order is complete.

And then the outputs are a completed purchase, a completed order, a delicious smoothy. Hopefully you have a happy customer, a purchase receipt, and hopefully also, there’s a tip.

So the customer is…comes in, is a hungry customer. They want the smoothy. Then we’ve got a smoothy preparer and again, we have the store owner and they’re a customer because they actually go out and purchase the ingredients.

So as you can see, this is just a simple example that you can take back and begin creating your own SIPOC. So if you need a tool or resources for your SIPOC diagram, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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