A SIPOC chart is an artifact borrowed from the Six Sigma methodology. It stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. We find this chart useful when we are verifying business requirements and rules from stakeholders.
A business requirement expresses what needs to be done by an actor to mitigate a risk in a process, or to take advantage of a business opportunity. A business rule expresses what conditions should be met with the same intent.
If used in conjunction with a UML activity diagram (see pics below), a SIPOC allows us to structure a verification session with business stakeholders, and to maintain a consistent language in the documentation of the requirement.
The business analyst and the stakeholder will review each task in the activity diagram asking the following questions:
Who supplies the output of the task? (a supplier)
Who receives the output? (a customer)
What does the supplier need to carry out the task? (an input)
What is received by customer? (an output)
It is often the case that, during the original “capture” of the requirement, stakeholders overlook documents or conditions, or call suppliers and customers in processes differently, depending on the business unit culture, hierarchy, or location.
Thus, having a “second pass” at requirements using a SIPOC and UML helps verify (and unify) wording, and ensures completeness of the requirement. For example, analyst will make sure that Suppliers and Customers correspond to actors and swim lanes in the UML model. Inputs and outputs should be represented in the UML model as artifacts, documents, data containers, etc.
In our practice we also make sure to define in a glossary all of the SIPOC components and include these definitions as part of the Business Requirements Documentation (BRD).
Our final test for clarity of requirement is “Anybody who is not a subject matter expert on the process should be able to understand the requirement by reading it or consulting the glossary”
Later in the project, technologists will be thankful and use the same language consistently, while determining gaps and designing a solution.
In fact, being this thorough while defining the needs of the business is a blessing to AGILE software delivery teams during production.
We use SIPOC charts in our requirements management tool and we generate them automatically via XMI import. Below is a brief silent demo video shoing how this can save your project team time and business analysis effort:
By Larry Velarde, CBAP®