IAF Methods


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Collaborative way to map business processes of an organization

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To map the business processes of an organization:  SIPOC (suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers) is a visual tool for documenting a business process from beginning to end. SIPOC (pronounced sigh-pock) diagrams are also referred to as high level process maps because they do not contain much detail.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Post-its
  • markers
  • butcher paper or lots of flipchart paper.


Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): Facilitation skills required

A. Document basic process information

1. Fill out a SIPOC Chart with the group--all but the Process portion (This is my favorite part of the whole facilitation: the very first thing I ask them to do is decide on the name of the process, and to define the start and end of the process. This usually generates great discussion and insights.)
2. Throughout the course of the discussion, capture business rules, assumptions, issues on white board/flip chart.
B. Map the Process:
1. Individually, silently brainstorm all tasks in the process. This is hard for most people, they need help and coaching, and coaxing to think of their day-to-day tasks at an abstract level.
2. Report task to group, negotiate, write on post its, affix randomly to mapping paper--a WIDE piece of butcher or printer-end paper. You always need 1'/25cm more than you thought.
2. Organize tasks using affinity grouping to cluster the activities into major related concepts. [note: not by time sequence, yet. This step necessary to ensure all tasks have been included]. I like the silent group sort.
3. Sequence tasks by time, functional roles on a big piece of butcher paper. Usually I first divide the butcher paper into horizontal "swim lanes"--one for each role/person/group involved in the process.
4. Draw lines connecting tasks. Use "magic finger" exercise to ensure no workflow threads left dangling--no matter what path the finger follows, should lead to the end of the process. Validate task completeness, accuracy, sequence with the group. Verify all suppliers, inputs, outputs, customers identified in the original SIPOC exercise are included in the process flow diagram.
5. [Optional] Solicit a critical review of the process map from other process members who weren't' involved in the original exercise and revise the map based on their input(s).
C. Business Process Analysis and Improvement [Optional, but usually the point of the whole exercise]
1. Review the map, identify problem areas.
There are a couple of different ways you can do this, I leave that to you. I find that it is usually a matter of going back to the issues that were identified during the documentation and mapping stages, and zeroing in on exactly the when/where/why/how/who of each issue.
2. Communicate conclusions and action plan for improvement. 

Usual or Expected Outcomes: My outputs from this process are: the SIPOC chart, pictures of the wall process map, a Visio/.pdf electronic version of the wall map annotated with the problem areas and explanations, and a transmittal email communicating next steps.


Source: Elizabeth Gray

Alternative names: Supplier, Input, Process, Output and Customer.

Comments (1) ( 5.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • Magic Finger?? also known as the Verify button in Visio that auto-checks the diagram for dangling threads­čśé

    almost 2 years ago