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Using Six Sigma SIPOC Diagrams to Improve Communications

Mar 11, 2008
The deployment however is not an easy task because, in most companies, there is a huge communications gap between people who actually run the business and people who might be responsible for designing, developing, and deploying the desired IT systems.

What this implies is that if the people who actually run the day to day operations fail to convey their exact needs and requirements to the IT people, it would become very difficult for the IT professionals to design and develop the most appropriate software tools or applications.

The opposite is also true in that if the IT professionals fail to provide the necessary details of the ongoing project to the concerning authority, it would become quite difficult to assess and certify the suitability and effectiveness of the project in question.

Lack of proper input can affect vital modifications that are the norm for every IT project and are necessary for designing and developing a useful IT system.

How Do Six Sigma SIPOC Diagrams Help In These Matters?

Businesses need not worry too much because they can easily avoid such negative developments by deploying time tested Six Sigma tools and techniques such as SIPOC diagrams. SIPOC, short for "Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Output, Customers," was originally devised as a tool for communicating the true essence of the entire business process to the stakeholders such as the employees, middle management officials, functional managers, and top-rung officials.

The main aim was to clear any doubts that might impede the timely completion of the associated Six Sigma implementation project. SIPOC developers may have never thought about it, but the reality is that this tool can also be used for improving communications between the IT department and the functional departments such as sales, purchasing, production, inventory, accounting, and others.

The only requirement is that the standard SIPOC diagram needs to be tweaked a bit in order to make it more easy to use and understandable for all the stakeholders involved.

Benefits of SIPOC Diagrams

The tweaked SIPOC diagram acts as a guideline, detailing each and every business requirement in understandable language which makes it easier for all parties involved to have the same view of the selected project. IT people continue to make appropriate additions to the diagram as the project progresses and achieves new milestones. This helps in getting timely feedback and input from the functional departments.

New business requirements can also be added to the diagram if the management and IT department think that the requirements can be included without any major overhauls or are necessary. Not all requirements can be satisfied within a given IT framework and this is why it is necessary to seek the approval of the IT department before adding any new requirements to the SIPOC diagram.

So, instead of investing huge amounts in IT training, it would be better if companies utilize Six Sigma SIPOC diagrams for improving communications. If used in the prescribed manner, SIPOC can prove far more effective than other methods of improving communications, not to mention the avoidance of employee disgruntlement normally associated with company sponsored training sessions.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals such as, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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