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Look Before You Leap

SIPOC (lean management acronym for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers) is a process improvement and business enrichment tool that’s deserving of a prominent place in every organization’s business management repository.

That’s a bold statement to make some would say but let me explain. Inherent to practically all organizational functions, is the output of something to satisfy some external stakeholder or stakeholders (customers). Important to the achievement of this end result are the sources (suppliers) and inputs. Thus, outputs to satisfy external stakeholders (customers) we can say, are highly dependent upon sources (suppliers) and inputs.

However, that’s not the full story. Very central (literally and figuratively in SIPOC) to the conversion of supplies and inputs to outputs and stakeholder (customer) satisfaction are processes. We can therefore reasonably say that value is accentuated when supplies and inputs are efficiently processed to result in optimum output and high levels of customer satisfaction.

Practically, SIPOC as an applied concept invokes the old adage and discipline of “looking before you leap”. In action, it dictates the need before engaging in any “perceived” process improvement, of clearly “understanding” and “properly defining” the interrelation between suppliers and inputs, the processes applied to transform them to outputs and resulting impacts on customer experiences. By doing so an organization is better able to map and take corrective actions before making changes that can be detrimental to customer experiences.

Unfortunately, a significant percentage of organizations engage in major change activities, which they term improvements, without proper pre-analysis of these factors and then ask, what went wrong. Taking time to understand and define these five interrelated factors, before engaging in major process change, is vital to any form of successful process improvement outcome. In addition to adding value to the customer experience, it also saves time and cost by ensuring all persons involved in the improvement process are all on the same page. Please, look and assess before that next leap.

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