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  • Writer's picturejasoncardinal

Introduction to BPM Business Process Management with a Lean Twist

We live in our processes every day. As a result, we don’t often see what is really going on around us in terms of waste and ineffectiveness. We have to learn to “see”. We also must begin to ask “why”. “Why do we do that?” “Why do we do it that way?” Our procedures and methods often change over time and the original purpose is clouded or no longer exists.

There have been processes and some form of process management in some form at your company that have been around for years. Is the way we’ve been doing things since the beginning an assurance that we’ll continue to succeed and surpass all challenges in the field? Absolutely not! We must continually strive to find better, more effective, more efficient ways of getting things done. Are we finished then? No! We must ensure that these “ways” of doing things are constantly challenged and that we devise better, less prone to mistake and error, process techniques.

Above all, we must always ensure that all processes are repeatable, and documented for easy consulting whether to train new employees or for optimization later on. There are five principles when taking a lean approach to process mapping:

  1. Principle 1 – Precisely specify the value of a specific process

  2. Principle 2 – Identify the value stream for each process

  3. Principle 3 – Allow value to flow without interruptions

  4. Principle 4 – Let the customer pull value from the process team

  5. Principle 5 – Continuously pursue perfection

Does a process that takes five minutes to complete require 30 pages of documentation? No. Many of you who have seen process instructions elsewhere in your careers may have seen ISO 9001 templates used in manufacturing environments.

Others have used flowcharts, value-stream maps, spaghetti diagrams, swimming lanes, and others. While these are all great tools, they serve different needs and purposes.

Allow us to introduce the SIPOC below which should be the first step to any process-mapping exercise.


The SIPOC Identifies:

  1. Major tasks and activities

  2. The boundaries of the process

  3. The process outputs

  4. Who receives the outputs (the customers)

  5. What the customer requires of the outputs

  6. The process inputs

  7. Who supplies the inputs (suppliers)

  8. What the process requires of the inputs

  9. The best metrics to measure

Supplier – Know and work with your supplier. Help your supplier improve by informing them what you need to better succeed.

Input – Strive to continually improve the inputs. Make it easier to get it right the first time.

Process – Describe the process at a high level, but detailed enough so that an executive or a lay person would understand. Mistake-proof the process. Know it inside out. Know what works. Eliminate what doesn’t.

Output – Strive to continually improve the outputs. Be the best with metrics!

Customer – Keep the customer’s requirements in sight. Stay on target.

The SIPOC is an excellent team building tool putting emphasis on inter-departmental cooperation. Mapping processes at a high level is more than just writing ISO instructions or making flashy “Visios”. SIPOC Steps

  1. We need to get a 50,000 ft. view of the process first

  2. Identify the process in simple terms

  3. Identify External Inputs (raw materials, employees, etc.)

  4. Identify the Customer Requirements (Outputs) (required temperatures, lot numbers, etc.)

  5. Make sure to include all value-added and non value-added steps

  6. Include both process and product output variables

SIPOC Airline Reservation Example


Once you have an agreed upon and more importantly, understood, SIPOC – understanding the SIPOC implies that you can easily identify opportunities for improvement – you can proceed to the next step in the Analyze phase of your project.

BPM Business Process Management

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