QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Quality Improvement Methods

43. SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers)

a. Definition: A structured way to address a quality improvement by considering all the relevant elements of a process before starting on the improvement effort. Included are Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs and Customers (SIPOC). This is often presented in the form of a diagram or table. An improvement team can use this combination of information to help plan the necessary changes. It is also a useful way to organize information as it is gathered and to communicate it among the team. A table summarizing these facts related to a complex project is helpful. Often a standard format is used to present the SIPOC elements.

Pharmacy Analysis SIPOC

b. Literature:

  • Rasmusson, David. The SIPOC picture book: a visual guide to the SIPOC/DMAIC relationship. Oriel Incorporated, 2006.
  • Simon, Kerri. "SIPOC diagram." Retrieved January 15 (2007): 2008.
  • Pocha, Christine. "Lean Six Sigma in health care and the challenge of implementation of Six Sigma methodologies at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center." Quality Management in Healthcare 19.4 (2010): 312-318.

c. Example: Before beginning an effort to improve the quality of a pharmacy department where there had been issues such as missing medications, the team decided to begin with a SIPOC table to identify all the inputs, outputs, and customers related to the current pharmacy operation. This helped the team identify the range of people and data they needed to gather as well as who they needed to contact regarding problems, operational information and priorities.

The SIPOC exercise can be a useful step for any team beginning a change to current operations, such as the implementation of a research intervention, in order to assure that all aspects of the process are considered and that no elements are ignored.

d. Steps:

1) Identify or name the process being studied for improvement.

2) Define the scope of the process; what is included as where is the beginning and end.

3) Then identify the SIPOC elements.

4) In terms of how to record this information set up a space or paper for preparation of the SIPOC table. This could be a wall area if it is to be done with a team of people.

5) It is also useful to include a high level process map. Two additional elements are often added: constraints or limits on the process and measures or how the process is measured.

6) Review with personnel directly involved: staff, customers, stakeholders and others.

7) Revise and prepare the final version.