Define scope with “hawk eyes”! – SIPOC

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote about “Pareto analysis”, one of the tools often used in the first step of Lean Six Sigma, “Define”. Pareto analysis is a tool that visually analyzes the Pareto principle and is used to determine the scope of a project.

This time as well, I would like to write about SIPOC as a tool that can be used to define scope.

1. What is SIPOC?

SIPOC stands for “Supplier” – “Input” – “Process” – “Output” – “Customer”.

Some people say that the order should be changed as “Customer” – “Output” – “Process” – “Input” – “Supplier” and should be called as “COPIS” because “Customer is important”, “Customer-centric”. But the contents are the same:) So I think you can call it whichever you like.

As for what it is, when asked “Supplier” – “Input” – “Process” – “Output” – “Customer”, and if you thought like “Do you mean process?”, or “Value chain?”, then you would be smart. It’s kind of something like those, but it’s not a detailed process, it’s a tool that gives you an overview of not only your own company but also your suppliers and customers.

It is important to note that “suppliers” and “customers” here may be as they are literally, or they may be your own “pre-process” or “post-process” (We can also say we can use like that).

2. SIPOC format and procedure

Let’s see what the format actually looks like here. There is no such thing as “it must be like this”, and anything is fine as long as each element of “Supplier” -“Input” -“Process” -“Output” -“Customer” can be written into. Here’s one example.

Fig1. SIPOC format (example)

The creation procedure is numbered in Fig1. List up “Process” first, then move on to “Output” and “Customer” side, finally “Input” and “Supplier” side. This is not necessarily the case either. It is just a reference.

As you can see, it’s a simple format with a high degree of freedom, so when you actually create it, I think it would be a good idea to gather the stakeholders of the project and have a discussion while creating it. You can define the scope during the discussion.

3. Create SIPOC with “hawk eyes”!

There is a saying, “hawk eye, ant eyes”, in Japan. While hawks fly high in the sky and see a wide range of things underneath, ants see the details of the ground. So this means that we should change our perspectives according to situations.

When creating SIPOC, it is very important to have this “hawk eyes”. It is something like process mapping, so we tend to go into details, but at this stage, we need to raise our perspectives and take a rough, broad overview.

Let me give you one example here. First, please watch this video (about 40 seconds).

Video 1 Big Mac making process (Video from Gizmodo Japan)

This is a making process of “Big Mac” with which everyone is familiar. If you were asked to look at this and write a SIPOC, how would you write it?

If it is as you saw,

1) Toast the buns

2) Prepare packages

3) Put beef or pickles on the buns

4) Close the package and hand over to the cashier

I think that’s something like this.

However, in case of SIPOC, I think it would be better to assume that “orders should come in before this step” so include “orders from the cashier” and even “the cashier receives the order from the customer”. Then SIPOC would be;

1) Cashier receives order from customer

2) Operator receives order from cashier

3) Operator makes Big Mac

4) Operator hands over package to cashier

5) To customer

Conversely, the procedure for making Big Mac does not need to be detailed at the SIPOC stage. Well, I think that this is also a case-by-case basis, but I would appreciate it if you could somehow convey the sense of level.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

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