Ever been in a situation where you need to quickly get an understanding of the ‘as-is’ process and determine what needs improving, where and by how much? SIPOC maps are a great way to structure an approach to deliver all of the above. They’re not complicated to use and aren’t as time consuming as creating a VSM (value stream map).
What are SIPOCs Maps?
SIPOC maps are a visual representation of key ‘as-is’ processes and can be created at various levels of detail. I usually start by creating a high level map formed around five or six key processes. You can create additional maps with increasing levels of detail later on if required.
Why are SIPOC maps useful?
- SIPOC maps provide a visual structure illustrating the ‘as-is’ or current state
- They are a great way to highlight CTQs (critical to quality) i.e. those points within given processes that are really important to get right first time from a quality perspective
- They help you to determine who the key stakeholders are at specific parts of the overall process
- Are a great way to assist in developing a stakeholder and communications strategy
- Are an excellent manner to get stakeholder engagement into a change process
If you’ve not recently used this technique, or are new to the concept of SIPOC mapping here’s SIPOC Maps in 5 easy steps.
SIPOC Maps in 5 easy steps
Step 1: In a workshop environment start by asking the group to describe what their department/organisation does in 5 or 6 ‘key’ steps. You don’t really want more than 10 process steps.
Step 2: On a whiteboard (or sheet of paper) write up the following headings;
Place your post it notes, from step 1, under the ‘process’ heading (as the illustration below).
Step 3: Starting at process – ask what ‘inputs’ are required to enable the process. Capture your comments on a post it and place it under ‘Inputs’. Do the same for Supplier i.e. who supplies the information to enable the input that enables the process to take place. Now do the same for Output and Customer asking what is the output from the process and who is it for.
Step 4: Identify CTQs for each relevant process step by asking ‘what’s the one thing that we must do to get the process right first time to meet our customer/colleague expectations?
Step 5: Validate the map with colleagues that use the documented processes
A good tip is to encourage group discussion as this will help you get engagement in the SIPOC workshop. The more engaged the group are the better the ‘quality’ of the created SIPOC map. It’s also worth pointing out not to get stuck in the detail. By keeping process / comment capture at a high level you’ll ensure a good flow to the workshop and are more likely to get the map completed.
Once completed it’s a good idea to ‘validate’ the map, with wider colleagues, to check for accuracy. You don’t need it to be 100% correct – near enough is good enough at this stage to allow you to identify and prioritise improvement opportunities. Remember to prioritise your CTQs to ensure that you’re working to improve the right processes first.
Finally use Practical Problem Solving to identify CTQ root cause(s) and to create an improvement action plan that will deliver the required improvements. I’ve always had great success using SIPOC maps and have used them many times over the years for clients to develop continuous improvement strategies.
This is my experience of using SIPOC maps. It would be great to hear what benefits you’ve had using them, what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked so well?
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If you would like to have an initial discussion about how I may be able to offer implementation coaching/advice with SIPOC mapping or any other operational excellence related topic please do get in touch?
About the author
Abdul Ghani is founder and director at Exceed Excellence. Abdul has twenty year’s experience of hands on Lean implementation, project and change management. He is an improvement coach and an inspirational leader with multi-sector continuous/quality improvement expertise.
Abdul’s key strengths are seeing through complexity, identifying and delivering improvement and to quickly establish rapport and trust with stakeholders. Abdul has project managed / delivered improvement programmes and mentored / coached staff, at all levels, through major transformation programmes. Click here to get in touch or here to make an appointment for a quick phone call. Whether we decide to do business together or not, I’m sure you’ll find our conversation valuable!
About Exceed Excellence
Exceed Excellence works with organisations to improve operational excellence capability to deliver high quality, right cost and right time services / products for their customers. We achieve this using workshops, masterclasses and/or consultancy. Most importantly, we’ll work with you to improve the skills, productivity and capability of your most valuable resources – your people!