Use of Inputs and Outputs in SIPOC

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    I never understood the use of inputs and outputs in a SIPOC.  It is really the high level flow chart that means anything. Can anyone please explain?  I have seen instructors all sorts of stuff under these columns, and at the end of the day, it didn’t even mean anything.  Everyone looked at the flow chart anyway to understand the start and stop points of the process.


    Andrew Parr

    @samred  I used to have the same problem but I had my “light bulb” moment when I linked my SIPOC up with the other tools and really started to understand that all it does is give clarity to what goes in and what comes out.  That is important because in simplistic terms all your process does is transform your inputs into outputs (give or take a few nasty necessary non-value add things) so the SIPOC is a great place to identify both those important inputs (or “x”s) that get transformed into outputs (or “y”s) thus helping to make sense of the y=fx that you hear about.

    It does look more clear when linking with a manufacturing process but is equally as important for a service process too.

    Sometimes it depends where you start your process and how complicated you want it to be. For example, for making a coffee inputs may be  coffee, water, milk, sugar or you might include kettle, cup etc.  and the same with suppliers. It’s up to you whether the supplier for milk is the local shop or the cow.  Same for outputs – is it just a cup of coffee or is hot water an output? No right answer but it helps you think clearly.

    I find the great thing about the SIPOC is it does let you consider all the inputs and outputs and how important they may be to the process whilst giving you a place to be consistent and add things as you think of them.

    Just my opinion but often the high level flowchart is the least important thing not the most!  After all, I know that bit quite quickly and it’s only later the SIPOC in its entirety becomes more important.

    Always remember, you are not here to create a lot of documents but to solve a problem. If a particular tool helps you do that then use it.  If it doesn’t then discard it. However, having said that, I do find a SIPOC is usually really useful in my LSS Projects but that is probably my nature that I want as much information as possible and tend to spend typically 70% of my time in Define and Measure.

    As Mike says “just my opinion”.






    Dennis Sowards

    I have found it more useful to call it “COPIS.” Starting with the customer’s requirements for the output has sometimes allowed me to discover that the output does not meet the customer’s requirements or is not necessary. This view changes how one looks at the process and at the inputs. Sometimes the input is not needed. or useful. I seek to validate the outputs by the customer’s requirements before examining the steps and inputs.

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