Author: Tip Fallon, Business Analyst
The SIPOC is a quality management tool used when creating, defining, or improving a process to help the user understand the following components of a process.
A SIPOC map is a clear, relatively high-level, and streamlined method to document and communicate the process elements listed above. However, the risk in using a SIPOC as the only or primary tool in a process improvement initiative is that a very important area may be under-emphasized: delighting the customer. In creating a SIPOC, customers are generally identified last, and often, change management practitioners can get caught up optimizing the Process component without fully understanding the Voice of the Customer (VOC). However, customer delight outweighs all of the other elements – Suppliers, Inputs, Process, and Outputs – combined. An alternative model, called COPIS, can shift the focus to delighting the customer, and thus spark innovation in the entire process. COPIS can complement your SIPOC model (or any other tool/approach).
COPIS is SIPOC backwards and thus starts with, and focuses on, the Customer. By suspending any thoughts, plans, and decision-making about the process, outputs, etc., a team can gain clarity and insight on what is truly Value-Add to the customer. Only after clearly defining what deliverables, expectations, wants, needs, and services the customer would be delighted by, can meaningful and innovative Outputs be developed. Once the right Outputs are determined, then the Process that would create those Outputs can be developed … and so forth. COPIS is essentially applying Stephen Covey’s universal success principle of “begin with the end in mind” to process improvement initiatives.
While the SIPOC model can give you a picture to help incrementally improve a process, the COPIS model can you help transform a process by focusing on what delights the customer – and then considering what new outputs or process may be a more effective way of reaching that goal.
What do you think? Do you find yourself in process improvement initiatives where looking at the problem from a COPIS perspective would be valuable?
More on SIPOCs and Six Sigma: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~redgeman/RLE/PUBS/SIPOC%20and%20COPIS%20-%20EDGEMAN.pdf