What are they?

SIPOC diagrams are a high level process mapping tool, that help you to understand where your process fits within your business.

A SIPOC diagram does this because it helps you to think about the Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers that are associated with your process. A SIPOC diagram also involves documenting the key sub-steps within your process, which can be helpful.

Why is that important?

Many project teams jump into solving a problem too quickly, and only realise later that they don’t fully understand the process that the problem is relating to. Without this broader understanding, the project team is unlikely to develop process improvements that take full account of the wider business environment. They are also unlikely to have involved all of the right people on the project team.

What are the key benefits?

A SIPOC diagram helps the entire project team to get a better understanding of the core process that they will be focusing on. It’s also useful as a tool for ensuring the project leader and project sponsor have the same understanding of the process.

When should you use them?

SIPOC maps are used in the Define phase of a project, when the project team is trying to understand the wider situation. It’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for the more detailed process mapping that takes place in the Measure and Analyse phases.