The most common tool to help define a process is called a SIPOC diagram. The SIPOC helps team members determine process activities, stakeholders, and boundaries.  A SIPOC shows the SuppliersInputsProcessOutputs, and Customers of a process.

  • Suppliers to the process provide the inputs, and every input should have a supplier.
  • Inputs to the process are the activities that trigger the process, such as a customer order.
  • Processes are activities that are carried out to convert the inputs into outputs.  
  • Outputs of the process are the tangible product or service that the process produces.
  • Customers of the process are the people who receive the Outputs. Every Output should have a Customer.  

In combination, their activities form the process map.

The image below shows the suppliers and the inputs into a process in terms of what they add to the process; then subsequently it shows the outputs of the process and its customers.  This type of document gives an organization a high-level view of the process and supplier/customer relationships. Notice the column headings.