SIPOC vs. Turtle

SIPOC Part I of II Ok... Ok... Geez people!  Who would have known that a flippin' TURTLE diagram could cause such a stir.  So far this month, I've been yelled at by a Brit, received kind comments from my Indian friends and told that my system is in shambles - ALL DUE TO THE USE OF TURTLE DIAGRAMS!  Honestly guys, I will admit that I'm a quality geek from time to time, but I don't care enough about any process improvement tool to start a fight over it.  Ok... that's a stretch.  But I can honestly say that I never knew that something called a "turtle" could cause such internet traffic and conference room debates.  I will offer this opportunity for those that find it difficult to image the benefit of something as simple as a high-level process flowchart (i.e turtle diagram).  It's called a SIPOC diagram.  If you don't like this either, then maybe the problem is YOU... that's all I'm sayin'.

SIPOC is short for Supplier, Inputs, Process, Outputs & Customer.  SIPOC  is one of many process mapping tools used to inventory all of the influencers that could have an impact on a process you are trying to control.

  • Supplier - who are the internal and/or external suppliers of the process (material or data)?
  • Inputs - what are the inputs or triggers that prompt your process to act (material or data)?
  • Process - this is the process at hand that you are trying to illustrate for control or improvement
  • Outputs - what are the outcomes or results of your process (material or data)?
  • Customer - who is the internal and/or external customer(s) of your process that receive the outputs (material or data)?

For a more complex analysis of process influencers and impacts, the SIPOC diagram can be partitioned into various categories, similar to a fishbone diagram.  The illustration below prompts a process owner to consider elements such as the environment or "man" as having an effect on the performance of a process.

Management can use this tool to define relationships and expectations within the organization.  The SIPOC can also be used to analyze the variables that are not allowing the process to perform as well as expected.

Check back an examples of how this tool can be used to address order inaccuracies at ACME Burger Company and a link to our downloadable SIPOC tool in our next blog.