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Vishwadeep Khatri




SIPOC - is a tabular tool that provides a very high level view (commonly called as 30000 feet view) of the process. It is an acronym standing for Supplier, Input, Process, Output and Customer. These form the five columns in a SIPOC. Suppliers provides the inputs, which are processed (in process) to produce the outputs for the customers. Since it provides the complete view of a process (from supplier to customer), it is also sometimes called as a 'wing-to-wing' map.

A related term is COPIS (Customer, Output, Process, Input, Supplier) in which the order is reversed.



An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Mohan PB on 26th September 2017. 




Q15. The SIPOC or COPIS is considered a useful tool by many. There are others who think it does not seem to serve any purpose. Explain the context of use and the benefits of SIPOC. Please use your own words. 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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The SIPOC is one of the most useful, yet one of the most maligned tool. Like with any tool, merely preparing a SIPOC will not yield much benefit. One should consciously attempt to draw maximum benefits from it.


The SIPOC is pocket treasure trove of process information, which is all sufficiently all-encompassing in its completeness, yet manageably small in size, both physical and electronic. The traditional SIPOC has information on Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Output and Customers, while the enhanced SIPOC has a whole lot of additional, related information like process step times, who does what step, the team size and distribution across shifts, the average volumes of these transactions, the qualifications of staff for this process, the training required and so on.


The first beneficiary of a SIPOC is the person or team preparing it. Documenting multiple aspects of a process makes the SIPOC creators first understand their process better  and also raises various questions in their mind. They will either find answers to these questions and better their understanding or identify opportunities for improvements in the unanswered questions.


Once the SIPOC is complete and is available for viewing or study by all, this opens up more and more opportunities for improvements. All the potential triggers required for stimulating improvement ideas are self-contained in the SIPOC. There are the process step times, which can provoke improvements to automate and reduce work content. There are various stakeholders in the process, which can trigger efforts to simplify the process. There are staff qualifications and skills required, which can initiate deskilling programmes. Every data point or piece of information in the SIPOC has a lot of value in the current context as well as in the outlook for improvements.


Additionally, the SIPOC is a most excellent training tool both for the Senior Management who may want to have a bird's eye view of the process to take certain strategic decisions or for the hands-on trainee who wants to understand the process step by step to execute them.


To summarise, the SIPOC being a repository of process information is a wonderful documentation, improvement, knowledge management and training tool.

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Why SIPOC is useful?

SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer) is a tool that helps to channelize the thought processes while we do a process analysis. Very often we live with many processes around us. Each process will have its process steps and whether we mention it or not, each step will have a source of input and a recipient (or recipient process). It is quite common to see that the output of a previous process step will form one of the inputs to the next process step. Many a time the process steps and the associated inputs and outputs may be too complex to visualize, unless we do a systematic process mapping. SIPOC is an excellent method to do such a mapping. SIPOC mapping is very helpful in situations where we already have a process, but we wish to study it for identifying areas for improvement.


Constructing a SIPOC

The best order of developing SIPOC is to deptict the Process first by drawing the process steps in the right sequence. Then visit each process step and identify the outputs and the recipient for each output (customer). Then move to the input side and determine the inputs for each process step. Once inputs are identified, decide the source of these inputs (supplier).


SIPOC as applicable in Six Sigma projects

Usually while preparing the Project charter and definition for a six sigma project, we identify the overall objective as Big 'Y', and the sub-objectives as small 'y's. We may refer to these as 'Outputs' i.e. the Overall output and the intermediate outputs. The quantified metrics that indicate each of the outputs are referred to as KPOV (Key Process Output Variables). The SIPOC acts as a valuable tool to determine the KPOVs, both at the final and intermediate stage.


Then, we need to identify the input factors (x) that influence the output factors. These input factors are the metrics relating to the inputs that feed into each process step. They are referred to as KPIV (Key Process Input Variables). Inserting additional columns for the KPIV and KPOV in the SIPOC, helps in our process analysis to depict the input variables as part of the potential causes identification exercise.




How to handle SIPOC to be felt effective

Determining the Process steps, the outputs and inputs for each step, has to be  very hands-on exercise with involvement of the right stakeholders at the right levels of involvement in the process. Otherwise, the SIPOC may not be very reflective of the reality and could make one feel that it is not serving any purpose. Again, the SIPOC needs to be maintained as a live document for a given process, as long as the process is in existence and should undergo periodic assessments and updating as may be required.


Further benefits of SIPOC

A well made and maintained SIPOC serves as an important guide to clarify the various "Supplier / Customer" roles in a process. It will help new employees to quickly understand the whole process and exactly how their role fits into the overall process. The excellence ambassadors may recall that one of Deming's 14 principles was "Next Process is Your Customer". The SIPOC helps one understand who their immediate and subsequent customers are, and what is expected by them. 



COPIS (Customer, Output, Process, Input, Supplier) is the reverse of SIPOC and has been introduced with a customer centric mindset. Some consider SIPOC and COPIS as same. However, as explained earlier, when we have a known process, it is easier to develop a SIPOC, since we will start by outlining the process steps. When we have a situation where the process is not known, e may adopt COPIS.. here we start with the customer, understand the customer's output and then decide which process (process steps) will deliver them.... and then move on to the inputs and suppliers.


Once developed, be it SIPOC and COPIS, all the benefits as explained above will apply. 

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SIPOC - Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, Customers

COPIS - Customers, Outputs, Processes, Inputs, Suppliers


Both are Six Sigma tools which are used in the Define phase of the DMAIC methodology.  Both are helpful in

1) Giving a high level process overview

2) Its also helpful in defining new processes.


It would be incorrect to say that SIPOC/COPIS does not offer any benefits. COPIS/SIPOC can help in identifying all possible areas of improvements but they dont provide quantification and significance of those areas. Each element of COPIS/SIPOC can be a potential area of improvement which can help in improving the overall process. However, SIPOC/COPIS would not give more information on the same, until and unless we dwell deeper into these areas and do statistical analysis to understand the impact of these different elements.

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SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, output and customers) is a process mapping tool. The reverse of SIPOC, COPIS (customer, output, process, input, and supplier) is also a process mapping tool

When performing any process discovery or improvement activity, one first needs to know about the big picture and understand how it fits into the business. SIPOC provides a simple framework to do this and this is also known as Value Stream Mapping.

SIPOC is a high-level view of the “as is” state of a process. A simple data collection template is used that helps facilitate the gathering of the relevant information (Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs and Customers) about a process. It helps provide a natural but structured way to discuss a process and get consensus on what it involves before rushing off and drawing process maps.

SIPOC is an abbreviation of: Suppliers – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customer, which is also known as COPIS.


Supplier: Internal / external suppliers to the process.
Inputs: Inputs to the process. This can include information, forms, materials, etc.
Process: The means that convert the inputs into outputs in order fulfill your customer’s needs.
Outputs: Internal / external customers to the process.

Customers: For each output, document the customers who will receive or benefit in the Customers column. Every output should have at least one Customer.


SIPOC can be used when process management or improvement activity is underway, since it’s important to get a high-level understanding of the process’s scope first. The benefits happen when a team needs to understand the basics and communicate to others that make up the process. Knowledge about the process is also recorded in an easy format.

The process owner (the person responsible for the end-to-end process) needs to be identified. Results are reviewed with the project sponsor, champion and other stakeholders to verify their requirements are being met.

Since SIPOC’s only a high-level view, there’s still a need to do detailed process mapping. It’s also important to understand the processes that feed into it.

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A SIPOC diagram is a visual representation of the high level process map. It captures SUPPLIERs and INPUTs which get into the process and OUTPUTs and CUSTOMERs out from the process. It also determines or rather should be defining the information of the stakeholders involved and the scope boundaries of the stream.


This is how we conceptualize it

  • One begins with a high level process mapped. Specific to the stream under investigation.
  • Outputs from this process are listed next. Possible ones are services, products, reports and data etc.
  • Customers are identified and jotted down. Can be categorized as Internal, external, vendors, management and users.
  • Then all the Inputs to the process are captured. Such as data, applications, raw materials etc
  • Finally, Suppliers are put up on the table. Similar to Customers, they can be Internal and external, vendors and others.

Post the draft one can look at a table which is well laid out providing a quick snapshot of the process and its extent.


The SIPOC layout benefits

  • All the stake holders to have their expectations match the result.
  • Scope is clarified with acknowledged gap analysis.
  • The SIPOC activity benefits during the DEFINE phase of a project. The outcome is of a high level AS IS process explained with the stakeholders and deliverables made explicit.
  • The VOCs and the corresponding CTQs will also provide necessary outlook for the exercise.
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 SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) is a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end.


From the time since humankind started doing trade of any kind, it was evident that traders did procurement in some way or the other, held inventory, rocessed/packaged it to bring about a service/good for the customer in return of some remuneration. As time evolved, the necessity to plan & lay down processes became imminent. The idea of planning the process before starting the trade/ business became a practice and evolved to many tools – SIPOC is a diagrammatic tool to plan your Process. It can be used by a team to identify all relevant elements of a Process Initiation Project or a Process Improvement project before work begins. SIPOC draft leads to a planned sheet with information that allows the participants in a process to learn together and come to consensus not only about the make-up of the SIPOC itself, but also put in their experiences and learnings in each stage of the process.


In an ongoing process, the SIPOC sheet helps the participants to define the process as is,“at a glance”  and figure out the  opportunities and challenges.  It helps define a complex project that may not be well scoped.  Thus, SIPOC is employed at the Define phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC or DMADV methodology.


In modern times, part of the power of the SIPOC is that it is simple to do- it is easy to work out a SIPOC Diagram on excel also.


During the creation of the SIPOC itself, places in the processes for potential improvement can be discussed and prioritized. By having the business units participate in the session and rank/prioritize opportunities together, they tend to be clearer and more descriptive in a shorter period of time. So the SIPOC acts as a dynamic tool to create dialogue and acceptance of a new process or a new approach for an existing process to change in addition to simply capturing the “as is” state.


I use the SIPOC to explain any process to the sponsor/ investor of any project that I am doing. In a short time, it gives a macro perspective to all the stakeholders present during the presentation and acts as a tool that allows all the participants to see the process in relation to all needed inputs, outputs and Suppliers. The presentation session accentuates accommodation of many constructive inputs to the process, keeping the process boundaries in mind, which again is shown in the SIPOC.  Since the key customers are also determined, most of the times, many advance decisions which will add value to the customer are easier to make during the presentation of the SIPOC itself.  Detailing of the same is the next step towards DMADV or DMAIC.


In Conclusion, the reason a Lean Six Sigma engagement many times begins with building a SIPOC diagram as a first step in the process mapping exercise is threefold in nature: 

  1. A SIPOC diagram quickly and easily captures the current or “as is” state of the organization and processes in question.
  2. The SIPOC exercise brings participants together in a non-threatening way that builds teamwork and momentum to the cause around culture and learning about Six Sigma.
  3. The SIPOC exercise allows the team to review all the processes in a manner in which next steps can be identified, and limited resources assigned during the next phase of the roll-out to those processes with an objectively identified listing of the most critical project opportunities.

 I personally consider SIPOC as an important regular tool!!

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When planning work within.  to study a process or system, it is important to first identify the boundaries to work within.


The two primary tools used to identify process boundaries are the basic process model and the supplier- input- process-output-customer(SIPOC). 

The SIPOC can be enhanced by also capturing the requirements of the process and customer. It can also help in identifying these organizations and functional; areas as process suppliers and customers. 


Identify the outputs of the process, including data, services, products, information, records, etc. The internal and external customers- those that receive the identified outputs. This is done to stimulate thinking. For example: new outputs are often identified when discussing inputs or customers.


External suppliers to a process inputs including materials, purchased parts , contracted services, electrical power, so on. 


Internal suppliers to process are department or processes inside the enterprise that provide process inputs.. Similarly, a process's external customers are those outside the enterprise who receive outputs while internal customers are those inside the enterprise who receive process outputs while internal outputs are those inside the enterprise who receive process outputs. Suppliers of either side are responsible for the meeting the requirements of the customers. Customers of either type are responsible for communicating their requirements to the suppliers.

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SIPOC Stands for Supplier Input Process Output Customer. The tool is widely used in Six sigma and BPM projects. The tool is used at early stage of process improvement and used to understand the high level process followed in as is State at define phase. It is critical to understand the relationships that exist within the process, customers and suppliers. without understanding these facts we cannot able to improve the process.


Suppliers and Customer can be internal or external to organisation who can influence the functionality of the process. Inputs and outputs are materials, services or information process list of actions performed outputs as per customer requirements with helps of inputs.

The uses of the SIPOC

- Gives high-level overview of the process
- Helps to define new process
- Helps to understand the boundaries of a process

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SIPOC is an acronym for Suppliers-Inputs-Process-Outputs-Customers. It is a high level process map that describes the boundaries of the process, major tasks and activities, key process input, output, variables, suppliers and customers. when we refer to customers, we usually talk abut both internal and external customers. it can be used to identify the key stakeholders and describes the process visually to team members and other stakeholders. A stakeholder  is anyone who is either impacted by the project or could impact the outcome of the project.this helps to establish the scope of the process, identify significant issues and frame the more details.it is used to document the atual process and helps locate values and non. value added steps.

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SIPOC is a high level process map used to provide a graphical or a pictorial representation of the process, customers, suppliers, outputs and inputs. It is generally done during the define or the measure phase of the project wherein the team brainstorms to map the different dependent and independent variables of the process.


Different elements of SIPOC are as follows:

  1. Suppliers - Suppliers are the entities that are providing an input to the supplier. These can be Client, Call Center or the end user.
  2. Input - These are the independent variables of the process which have an impact on one or more outputs (dependent variables) of the process. eg. Calls, phones, headsets, trainings etc.
  3. Process - These indicate the steps or the activities that convert the inputs into outputs. eg. it tells the call centre executive - start with a standard greeting, verify the caller identity etc.
  4. Output - This is the dependent variable of the process eg. resolution of an issue with the client, client experience etc.
  5. Customer - These are the recipients of the process output. 

All these are represented in the form of a table with five columns, which helps to capture the "as is" picture of the organisations processes an many times helps to define the scope of the DMAIC project itself.  Limitation of SIPOC being that since it maps processes at high level , some times we need to understand and map the process in detail to identify issues if any,

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SIPOC (or COPIS in reverse) denotes Suppliers – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customer.


When a team undertakes a process improvement activity it is essential to understand the whole picture and its relevance in the business. The team needs to develop a process map to decode and analyze each process step.


To develop a proper holistic detailed process map, they need a structured framework that would help to understand the basics of the process and the various entities/actors involved in it.


A SIPOC tool essentially provides this framework to record information about the process in an easy to view, understand and communicate format. It is high level process map full of information that allows the participants in a process to learn together about the process, under question. They can come to consensus about the make-up of the SIPOC and identify opportunities of improvement. Processes steps for potential improvement can be discussed and prioritized. It is a team exercise where business units participate in the discussion and rank/prioritize opportunities together. So, the SIPOC, in addition to capturing the “as is” state of the process also acts as a dynamic tool to create dialogue and acceptance (overcome resistance) of a new approach to change.


 It helps the participants to identify and build consensus on operating boundaries which in turn provides clarity in defining In-Scope and Out-of-Scope deliverables of the project. For any Six sigma project this clarity of scope is essential.


Using the details of the SIPOC, the team can then develop a detailed process map for further analysis.


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The suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers (SIPOC) diagram defines the scope of work for a team and identifies at a high level the potential gaps (deficiencies) between what a process expects from its suppliers and what customers expect from the process.


Because it also identifies feedback and feed-forward loops between customers, suppliers, and the process, it jump-starts the team to begin thinking in terms of cause and effect.


The integration of SIPOC diagrams with more traditional process maps has proven to be very useful organizations.



  • Enables all team members to view the process in the same light
  • Visually communicates the process at a high level and defines the scope of improvement efforts
  • The first step in cause-and-effect thinking; contributes to understanding how the suppliers, inputs, process steps, and outputs affect customer(s) needs


Begins to identify gaps such as:

  • Inputs we don’t need but receive
  • Outputs that customers don’t want, but receive anyway
  • Process steps that are completed, but add no value
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SIPOC or COPIS provides a simple framework while performing any process discovery or any improvemment activity. Once need to know the broad picture and how it can fit into the business.


SIPOC is a high-level view of the “as is” state of a process under investigation

It is very important to get a high level understanding of the scope in the process first, so one should use sipoc when any improvement activity is underway.


SIPOC helps provides a structured way to discuss a process and get consensus and understanding on what it involves before we rushoff to draw process maps. It’s really useful when any of these points aren’t clear:

  • Who supplies inputs to the process?
  • What specifications are placed on the inputs?
  • Who are the true customers of the process?
  • What are the requirements of the customers? 

Therefore sipoc is basically define a process before you map, measure or improve them.

It defines the boundary or scope of your improvement area

It gibes the visual presentation of the problem.  It is a structure way to discuss the process.

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Cross-functional teams involved in projects/programs don’t speak the same language.

What are the customer requirements & how they are delivered may be understood differently as per the functionality of the team. Output of one team could be a input for other teams.

SIPOC is a tool (or a data collection template) which helps to understand the scope of the project; provide a high-level business requirements & workflow to ensure every one on the project see the customer requirements/deliverables in the same way.

SIPOC is a high level view of process & is a simple data collection template which facilitates gathering of relevant information of Supplier; Inputs; Process; Output; Customer. Which also known as COPIS.


Why to use:

1st starts with understanding the Process/processes. Then what will be inputs & outputs of the process.  Once you understand the inputs, it helps understand who will be Suppliers for the inputs.  Every process will have a output, this output has to meet atleast one Customer requirement.



1. it is a template to define a process

2. It sets a boundary of the problem to be analysed, defines a scope of the project

3. Provides a visual repesentation of problems/requirement

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SIPOC is a visual tool for plotting the summary of SUPPLIER-INPUT-PROCESS-OUTPUT-CUSTOMER value chain. It is done in tabular form. SIPOC is mostly used in DEFINE phase of SS Projects or Kaizen Event, when team members want to give birds eye view or represent / update / make up for the changes for people who were not part of the process recently or to help people to understand the process in totality before they begin further.


Focus –

During making the SIPOC, Focus can be internal or external (customer, suppliers) or mixture of both to the business; depending on the scope of project.


Purpose & Benefits-

It definitely serves the purpose of “CLARITY” to the project members.

Also serves,

  • Understanding
  • Flow clarity
  • Scoping
  • Limits of project
  • Parties involved



Context -

Actually its use sets the context right, at very beginning for entire team. Team then can not say we don’t about this perticuler party/aspect/input/output. Also while making SIPOC team actually once go through entire value chain and that gives them full idea about process.


Example -



Cost Data Integrity Project





















Employee Setup Data


Setup Resources


Assign Activities to Resources


Assign Rates to Resources


Enter Time Sheets


Enter Vendor Invoices


Summarize and Report Costs




Active Employee Record


Project Manager and Team




Contractor Setup Data


Active Contractor Record


Project Manager and Team


















Employees & Contractors


Planning Meeting


Project Schedule


Project Manager and Team


Contracting Officer


Statement of Work


Project Schedule


Project Manager and Team


















Payroll Department


Employee Pay Rates


Rate Table


System Administrator




Contractor Pay Rates


Rate Table


System Administrator






























Labor Cost Report


Project Manager and Team


Contractors (Time & Materials)



Labor Cost Report


Project Manager and Team


















Contractors (Fixed Priced)




Contractor Cost Report


Project Manager and Team


























Project Management System


Timesheet & Invoices


Monthly Performance Reports


CIO, Program Managers, VP Finance













Instructions for Preparing the SIPOC Diagram:










1. Go through the process step by step, describing the major activities. List each of this activities under the Process column.


2. Add two columns, one to the left of the Process column Input and one to the right of the Process column Output.


3. Work to the left of each activity in the Process and describe the Input into this Activity.




4. Now work to the right of the activity in the Process and describe the Output from this Activity.




5. Add two more columns, one to the left of Inputs labeled Supplier and one to the right of Ouput labeled Customer.


6. Now work down the Input column and describe each source or supplier of the Input.




7. Do the same for the Output column and work down, describing who gets the output.




Some points to consider:












1. The SIPOC Diagram should describe the existing process and not the "to be" process.




2. Have some Subject Matter Experts who know the process review the SIPOC Diagram for accuracy and completeness.


3. Include Sub-Processes and other key system interfaces within your SIPOC Diagram.




4. You can include additional descriptive information where appropriate such as applications involved, functional owners, etc.


5. If you need more detail, then create lower level SIPOC Diagrams.




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