SIPOC: High-Level Process Mapping

In previous publications we talked about the importance of having all the information necessary for a given analysis in one place. The possibility of having everything we need within sight gives us an integral idea of ​​the matter, forcing us to be synthetic and concrete.

There are several ways of describing a process, of representing it or “mapping” it. One of the most used is the so-called SIPOC. This acronym comes from the initial letters in English of the main components of any process (whatever it may be):
Supplier: Who provides the inputs to the process? It may be an external supplier or simply the previous process.
Input: What does the process need? It is all that the process uses to develop. It may be information, material or documentation.
Process: What are the activities that are performed on the inputs, which add value and convert them into outputs ?.
Output: What does the process deliver? Depending on the case, it can be a product, information or documentation, among other possibilities.
Customer: Who needs the outputs of the process? In this case it can also be an external client, or the next process.

It may sound basic, but it is essential that we define what we are talking about when we talk about a process. Let us go to the standardized definition that is most accepted today, at least in the world of quality management: the one provided by ISO 9000: 2015. This standard defines a process as the “set of mutually related activities that use inputs to provide an expected result”. The type of outcome depends on the context in which we find ourselves, but it may be a product, a service or just an output. Generally the processes are concatenated with each other, so the input of a process is the output of the previous process and the output of this process is the input of the latter. A set of two or more interacting processes can also be considered as a single process.

The objective of SIPOC is to represent in a single diagram the process that is being analyzed taking into account all the mentioned components and to answer the questions raised. All aspects of the process must be clearly defined, which allows, among other advantages, to define metrics to evaluate performance and identify activities that add value. It helps the identification of waste and the detection of opportunities for improvement and bottlenecks. For these reasons, this technique is widely used during the implementation of methodologies such as Lean or Six Sigma.

As a good visual control tool, all information can be turned into a single sheet. The most common format is a table, in which each component is listed in detail, and in the central column is represented by a flowchart to the process itself.


SIPOC is a very useful tool when you have to describe a process in a synthetic and clear way. It can be used, for example, when defining the processes in the implementation of DMAIC methodology in Six Sigma, or in any improvement project or kaizen event.

SIPOC: High-Level Process Mapping

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