Q: Proper Use of SIPOC

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums Tools & Templates Q: Proper Use of SIPOC

  • This topic has 12 replies, 12 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Des Kenny.
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    I’m from a BPMN & use case background and I’m now moving over to analyzing processes using tools such as SIPOC/COPIS. I’ve run into a few things that I’m unsure about and I hope there is an answer.

    My example (current analysis) is regarding the processes for governance of an enterprise’s master data. An interesting topic as it often has highly variable times in how long it takes to update all systems and sync the,

    #1 – My understanding of the Input and Output is that they are things / nouns. They are not processes upstream or downstream. Is this correct? E.g., Maintain Customer Data (process) should not be an input to the Create Sales Order process. Instead Maintain Customer Data has an output of Customer Info and Customer Info is instead the input to Create Sales Order. Is this understanding correct?

    If someone wants to chain together processes to create a value stream that isn’t what SIPOC’s I & O are for. Yes?

    #2 – This is influenced by my BPMN experience, but are triggers the same as inputs? Let’s say that a company requires a periodic review of all master data. Old master data, e.g., not used in over 5 years, is retired. The output is updated master data, the customer is the the employees that use that data. But what of the policy that dictates that the review happens twice a year? What of the scheduled review session / timer that was created and triggers the review process? Are these inputs? Suppliers? Neither?

    Your thoughts? Any good reference / training material that discusses the do and do not of SIPOC in great detail with several examples from actual projects? Much from a quick Google search are rather more on manufacturing improvement it seems and didn’t really help.



    You may be over complicating it. Think in terms of flow. Inputs come from external sources (suppliers) and may be materials, data, or triggers. Outputs go to users of the outputs (customers) and may be materials, data, or triggers. Stuff comes in. Stuff goes out. Set the scope boundaries for the process. Anything that happens within that scope is part of P. There may be additional inputs and outputs in P but they are internal scope. SIPOC looks at what comes into P and where it comes from, and at what comes out of P and where it goes.


    Amit Kumar Ojha

    Hi Patrick,

    As mentioned by Strayer, you are complicating the things at the initial level.
    See first understand the purpose of COPIS. COPIS is not a tools for in-depth analysis of your process, the purpose of COPIS is :
    1. To communicate to everyone the high level understanding of the process
    2. To check if there is proper alignment / utilization of all inputs / process steps to generate the output as desired by customer. It helps in seeing if there is any gap in relating Customer,Output,Process,Input & Supplier.

    Now coming to your business scenario, first and foremost find out who is/are the customers. (Remember now this tool is referred as COPIS to signify that you always need to identify your customer first and then go backwards to see what are outputs to satisfy the customers needs and how you process converts the inputs into those outputs. There can be multiple Customers, Outputs and inputs or suppliers but you need to fix the boundaries of your process.

    Response to your two queries:
    1. Yes your understanding about customer is correct.
    2. No a trigger / event can not be an input.

    Hope my response helps you.
    Best of Luck!!!


    Katie Barry

    @PatrickSJ — Don’t forget to check out our section of content on SIPOC/COPIS in our Tools & Templates section:


    Rinkon Ningthoujam

    SIPOC is a tool that helps document a top level process from the suppliers to customers.
    • It includes information necessary to ensure that
    – All customer requirements have associated outputs
    – All outputs are associated with customer requirements
    • The SIPOC helps drive process owners to use the right metrics and verify them with the customers and suppliers.

    SIPOC also capture CTQ’s and CTP’s; CTQ’s are requirement of the customer from the output and are quantified. CTP;s are requirement of the Process from the Inputs and again quantified.

    ***100% review of the Master Data twice a year would be a requirement.

    Hope it helps.


    Norbert Feher


    In our practice SIPOC is used at the very beginning of a Six Sigma project. Even before the project charter is prepared since in SIPOC we define the “borders” of the Six Sigma project (what is in and what is out of focus), the stakeholders (future team members), and the key process steps to think about the measurement system.
    A rough SIPOC chart is prepared together by the process owner and the Champion before the project is transferred to a Six Sigma Green Belt or Six Sigma Black Belt person.
    My rule of a thumb is the following:
    A nonlinear SIPOC or one with more than 5 process step is too detailed

    Details can come in the measure phase when You switch from helicopter view to a microscope level.

    I agree with the others:
    Keep it simple and stupid!


    Chris Seider

    If a champion and the project manager (belt) have spoken, a SIPOC is too simplistic of a tool in my opinion to use time towards.

    A process map which shows the boundary of the problem done with the team is sufficient.

    My two cents.


    Jim Ha

    Use SIPOC for getting high level view of the focus of improvement.
    So, you can start with “Process” – lists of macro level steps in the process.
    Then only list all Output (outcome of the process =product, data, reports) from the process.
    Then specify the customers who use the output.
    Next – the Input and Suppliers
    This question may help to identify Input : “What do we need for the process to run smoothly to meet customers expectation?”. Yes it could be noun.
    Finally who needs to provides the Input. Note that some customers could be suppliers too.

    SIPOC is also used to identify stakeholders of an improvement effort.
    Whoever we list as Customers and Suppliers are stakeholders in the process change effort. Therefore they should be well informed or even involved directly in the process improvement initiatives.

    Good luck.


    Saurabh Mandal

    Hi Patrick,
    Generally COPIS or SIPOC is used at the very early stage of improvement initiative mostly in Define phase. Its a high level process Map including the different stakeholders, input, output and start / end point i.e. the scope of the improvement.The main objective is to provide a logical overview (high level) of the process as a sum of number of steps that converts process input into output as per the customer demand.
    To identify the supplier and customer, the scope or boundary of the process must be identified. Your supplier and customer may be internal or external to the organization depending upon the scope. Sometimes your supplier and customer may be the same stakeholder. Suppose, I m working in a improvement project of Automation of reports which starts with a request raised by the senior management and ends with the report generation and sent to the requestor. Here senior management is your Customer as well as supplier.
    Basically, COPIS idenfies the stakeholders involved which is further used in Stakeholder analysis and CAP tools for buying in the project. The high level peocess Map helps to draw the Value stream Map in next phase.
    Good Luck..!!


    Alberto Burgos

    As Chris stated above. A SIPOC is for a general overview so that you can better understand who is generally involved and what the outcome is supposed to be. I would recommend a process map which will go into details and show you the decision points when needed. A SIPOC won’t show you decision points. The process map will allow you to go into greater detail and you can branch off into those sections for the twice a year, and retired in 5 years scenarios.



    You could also use the SIPOC to list requirements related to the inputs and outputs that are being met and conversely, which are not being met. This is called a gap analysis.


    Martin K. Hutchison

    I use a SIPOC during my due diligence to decide who to talk to and/or who to bring on the team (stakeholder functions with a contribution or view of the problem that may be different from that of the in-process “expert”). It is an easy tool to use to make sure that you capture all the physical and information inputs and outputs for the basic process that captures your attention.


    Des Kenny

    Hi Patrick,
    The traditional SIPOC model is a functional (relational) model. it relates inputs to output and not much more apart from sources(Suppliers) and sinks (Customers) of data or materials. Both BPMN and Use Cases can describe very detailed Procedural Logic.
    so I agree with most of the comments above. The traditional SIPOC model will not provide such a detailed procedural model of a business process. I consider Triggers to be Conditions that determine if a step should proceed or not. Procedural Logic can model Conditions and Iterations. The traditional SIPOC model does not model Conditions or Iterations. I.e don’t use the traditional SIPOC model for detailed Procedural Logic, use it for simple functional mapping of Inputs to Outputs and include Sources and Sinks of data (Suppliers and Customers).

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