Processes and systems can be easily confused terms in the quality management systems space. In reality, the terms are in fact related to each other, but represent two different entities: a process is a set of interrelated / interacting activities that transforms inputs into outputs, while a system is a set of interrelated / interacting processes.
The use of an integrated system of processes within an organization is called process management. This is based on the ability of an organization to:
- Identify all of its processes
- Recognize the inputs and outputs for each process
- Document the processes for easy implementation
- Measure the outcomes of the implementation
- Continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of company processes
When individual processes work together to form an integrated management system, such as within process management software, the goals of a company are achieved much more efficiently. Process improvement efforts are typically focused on removing a situation where a process is not operating at its normal level. A great approach to take is analyzing the process to indentify the Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer and Feedback (SIPOC) links with a SIPOC Analysis.
To create your own SIPOC diagram, (pictured above), follow the steps below:
1. Create an area that will allow the team to post additions to the SIPOC diagram. Take the template provided above in some blank form with the S-I-P-O-C headings and provide to team members individually.
2. Begin with the Process. Map your process it in four to five high-level steps.
3. Identify the Outputs of this Process.
4. Identify the Customers that will receive the Outputs of this Process.
5. Identify the Inputs required in order for the Process to function properly.
6. Identify the Suppliers of the Inputs that are required by your Process.
7. Discuss with Project Sponsor, Champion, and other involved stakeholders for verification.
The Quality Improvement Handbook, Second Edition: ASQ Quality Management Division
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