SIPOC is an acronym that stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process Steps, Outputs, and Customers. This high level process mapping method is ideal for diagnosing and analyzing the current state, or As Is condition of any business process. The following outlines the SIPOC approach to As Is analysis and improvement solution identification.
The first task is to assemble a small team, 3-5 people, who play roles within the process under analysis that are familiar with the activities that take place within the process. You may find that this team collectively knows the process from end to end even if some of the team members individually do not. The team identifies the one key performance metric that defines success or failure for the process.
SUPPLIERS are the functional groups that provide the essential ingredients for the process to perform. Create this list may include actual supplier companies that are contracted for goods and services as well as the internal groups and individuals that provide the things that make the process tick. You may miss a few initially, but you can always add suppliers during the process mapping activity when they are identified. If the process needs something, which Supplier provides it?
INPUTS are the essential ingredients provided by the Suppliers. Those ingredients could be materials, goods, services, data, instructions, decisions, documents, analyses, or whatever the process requires. For each Supplier make a list of all the inputs they provide.
PROCESS STEPS are the 5 high level steps from the beginning to the final outcome for the process. Start with Step 1 and Step 5. That defines the end to end scope of the As Is process analysis. You can think of the process steps as the 5 key value stream steps. Fill in Steps 2 through 4 after Step 1 and 5 are defined. The performance metric should be measureable at Step 5 to determine process success or failure.
OUTPUTS are the result of each individual step in the process. After completing Step 1 what is the thing that is generated by this process step. In some cases a process step may have multiple outputs. When you list the outputs they are in groups associated with their respective process step and should flow in order from 1 through 5.
CUSTOMERS are the recipients of the process outputs. The process step generates something and it goes to a functional group which is either internal to the process or external to the process.
With the SIPOC Process Map completed the team collectively has a better overall understanding of the process from end to end. Now is the time to challenge the process to identify where the issues are. What are the causes of either success or failure based on the key performance metric? Brainstorm using the Cause and Effect, or Fishbone Diagram. This technique identifies the potential causes of the process issues.
To develop solutions the SCAMPER brainstorming technique is very useful. In this structured method the SCAMPER acronym is used to challenge the process for improvements by asking what could be Substituted, Changed, Adapted or Amplified, Modified, Put to other uses, Eliminated, or Replaced / Removed / Rearranged. Now you know the SIPOC approach to As Is analysis and improvement solution identification.