Six Sigma uses multiple process variables to reduce waste and improve outputs. One of the common variables that is used by Six Sigma is SIPOC. SIPOC provides companies with a visual interpretation of the entire manufacturing process and how it impacts their customers.
SIPOC stands for:
Suppliers are the individuals or companies that provide inputs to the process. These suppliers can be internal or external. The supplier may also be a customer. The inputs are generally materials, information or services that are required by the process in order to produce the outputs. It may also include other factors that influence the overall process.
As you define the process, you should lay out the key process steps and the sequences they follow. The steps need to be written after a manner that is meaningful and direct. During this stage you will also establish the process boundaries as to what triggers the process and what marks the end of the process.
A typical SIPOC diagram is a 5-column tabular format. It is fairly simple to construct a SIPOC diagram. If possible, have your project team start at the beginning of the process phase. The team should ask numerous questions in the process phase about the actual process itself. Your team will them label the process with a summary of the most critical 3 to 6 steps.
Once the process has been analyzed, your team should document what processes are delivered to your customers. Try selecting 2 or 3 customers and brainstorm and prioritize them in order of importance. The process can be identified, prioritized, and the outputs can be aligned to the customers.
Here are the steps you need to follow in order to complete an SIPOC diagram:
First, create an area where the team can post additions to the SIPOC diagram. Transparencies and templates are commonly used by organizations; some even use post it notes. Flip charts with headings of SIPOC can be written on each of the flip charts.
Second, initiate the process by mapping it into 4 or 5 high level steps. Third, identify the outputs of the process. Fourth, identify all the customers who will be recipients of the outputs of the process. Fifth, identify the inputs that are required for the process to function correctly. Sixth, identify all the suppliers of the inputs that are required by the entire process. Seventh, identify all the requirements of the customer (this is an additional step as it will be verified during a later step in the Six Sigma process). Eighth, discuss the complete project with the project sponsor, champion, stakeholders, or other members who are involved in the verification process.
When you begin creating your SIPOC chart, you need to ask the following questions:
1. What information, data, reports, etc. will come out of the outposts?
2. Who are the customers?
3. What data, supplies, and tools are required for the inputs?
4. Who is needed to help perform the SIPOC action?
5. Who or what functional organization, system, report, database, and supplies are needed for the inputs?
Those companies who have implemented SIPOC have had successful results due to increased communication. The easy-to-read SIPOC chart allows everyone at the company to easily identify the process and effectively communicate their needs with one another.