For each process defined, we should ask ourselves if we follow a written procedure, if this procedure is updated, and if it is well-known by all involved people. If the answer is yes" to these questions, we can say that this procedure is standard, but if the answer to any of these questions is “no”, we can't talk of standard -- yet. If there is not a standard, it is time to define it by the SIPOC mode. If there is a standard, maybe it is good to look at it with different eyes.
The SIPOC model
To standardize and improve our process, a good model of analysis is the SIPOC model. This model is a good way to have a quick look at a single process or to several processes connected together. I recommend splitting your complex processes into defined processes of shorter dimensions, linearly linked. After this sub-division you'll be able to represent the core process by linking together more SIPOC models.
SIPOC stands for stands for: "Supplier-Input Process Output-Customer" -- the main players in a process.
n Supplier is who provides resources to the process (e.g. information, materials
n Input is what is provided to the process to enable it to work
n Process is the series of main steps to follow to transform inputs into outputs, while adding value
n Output is the outcome of process + input
n Customer is who receives the output
To get started, identify what is needed (e.g. inputs) and the requirements these inputs must have for the process to run, as well as who must supply those inputs.
Figure 1. SIPOC Model
The next step, Process block, is a representation of the steps needed to complete the job. If the process block is too aggregated to represent a step-by-step procedure, split process in smaller steps remembering the golden rule that customer-output for Process 1 must be the supplier-input for Process 2.
Figure 2. Linking SIPOC Models
The final step is about output and customer. Here you must consider output requirements and customer requirements. Many people usually consider only the output requirements, but these are just a part of the measure of success. Remember that customer requirements are not only linked with output, but also with service. Output can be of high quality and have a low price, but it must be delivered in the required time and must be successfully used by customers, otherwise our customer will be unhappy with the output.
Remember also that requirements must be clearly understood by everyone and must not be subjective, because where there are only subjective or poorly-formulated requirements, you can be assured of a dissatisfied customer.
The SIPOC model is not just related to standardization but also with kaizen (e.g. continuous improvement) because it clearly shows where the process creates value and where waste is occurring. Keep in mind the 7 wastes when you analyze your process with SIPOC helps you to reduce them.
One important piece of advice is to visualize the steps in the physical process that you identified with SIPOC model to validate the diagram more easily. Identifying areas, status of inputs, process performances, status of the process is an extension to SIPOC that can help you to remove wastes.
For more from Matteo, visit his blog.