Creating a Process Improvement Strategy from a SIPOC Map

Creating an Improvement Strategy from a SIPOC Map

Posted on Posted in Lean Tools

Creating a strategic focus for what one CEO I know liked to call “B.H.A.Gs” (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) can be daunting; especially when the process is complex and has many moving parts and stakeholders. In healthcare, this can be any number of processes within a hospital. The key is to identify the most impactful pieces of the process and attack it with a focused and deliberate team-based process improvement effort.  Using a SIPOC map can be a key starting point in developing a strategy to tackle a B.H.A.G. process improvement issue.  The name SIPOC stands for the components taken to build the map:  Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customer.

A SIPOC map shows the user how the process is impacted by interactions with suppliers and their inputs into the process and how the process impacts the customer through its outputs.  It’s easy to create and can be done in a few simple steps.

  1. Break the process down into 5-7 high level steps and place them vertically in the center of the page or flipchart
  2. Next, on the left hand of each high level step, identify the input that feeds that portion of the process
  3. Place the supplier of each input on the far left
  4. Once the left side of the map is complete, place the output for each step of the process in a right hand column
  5. Finally, note the customer of each output-producing action on the far right

Once the SIPOC map is complete, use the following steps to identify a strategy to tackle the issues identified in manageable pieces of work.

First, you’ll want to identify any waste or issues that are existing within the process as it operates today.  This can easily be done by engaging the frontline staff, or the customer, or both in a conversation about what doesn’t work about the process.  Make notes directly on the map and highlight the process steps that appear to be most critical to the creation of the end product.

Second, when you have the most critical steps identified, its a good idea to associate the identified issues and wastes directly with these steps where applicable.  Place the critical steps and their associated wastes/issues on a separate piece of flipchart paper.

Third, identify how intensive of an intervention is needed to mitigate the issues and wastes identified with the most critical process steps.  Think of the interventions in terms of: half-day, full-day, three days or multi-week in length when considering how complex the issues and wastes identified are to resolve.

Finally, from this point, create the action plan needed to carry the work through to completion.

  • Identify the needed interventions and when they are expected to be completed.
  • Reflect on key stakeholders that need to be brought into the fold of the discussion.
  • Develop a broad communciation plan for the organization to be made aware of the upcoming initiative.
  • Map out a visual timeline of the work over the following 90 days and place any other high-priority initiatives on the timeline to create context for the work to be done.  This will encourage conversations to take place around projects that may need to be placed on hold or sped up in order to create bandwidth within the team carrying out the charge.