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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Understanding and Utilizing Lean and Six Sigma in the Histology Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Supplier-Input-Output-Customer (SIPOC) Diagram

A SIPOC diagram displays a cross-functional set of activities within a single diagram. It provides an excellent method to look at processes of all sizes and is particularly suited to the "big-picture" perspective. It is a high-level summary that stays above the level of a process map or value stream map so it is a great starting point for any team activity since it helps define process boundaries, customers of the process, suppliers of the process, inputs and outputs, and most important process steps.

Steps for creating a SIPOC diagram:
  1. Provide a description of what the process does.
  2. Identify the start and end points, what triggers the process? What is the end product?
  3. List the outputs.
  4. List the customers of the product.
  5. List the process inputs.
  6. List the suppliers of the process.
A SIPOC diagram will quickly tell you where you will need more measurements in place for inputs and outputs of the process. Though very helpful at the beginning, when developing the improvement project, the SIPOC scope will be too large for one project. You will select certain inputs, outputs, suppliers or process steps for attention.