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Webinar Recap: SIPOC Workshop Facilitation – Part 1: Overview of SIPOC and Systems

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Jeff Bongiovani’s session, SIPOC Workshop Facilitation – Part 1, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to part one of MPUGs training course, SIPOC Workshop Facilitation. This first session will provide an overview of SIPOC and systems. My name is Kyle, and I’ll be the moderator. The session is eligible for one PMI, PDU in the strategic category and the MPUG activity code for claiming that with PMI is on the screen now, that’s mpug031721. And like all MPUG presentations, a recording will be posted to mpug.com shortly after the live session ends. All MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit. All of the sessions you watch on demand can be submitted to your webinar history and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted.

Kyle: Within your history, you can print it, download your transcript and certificates of completion, including the one for today’s event. You can do that by logging into mpug.com. Click my account and then click on the transcript link. If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at any time using the chat question box on the go to webinar control panel. We do plan to answer those questions for you at the end of the session. All right. We’ll go ahead and get started today.

Kyle: We’re very happy to welcome back Jeff Bongiovani, today. Jeff is currently the lead course developer for Edward’s Performance Solution and oversees the production and maintenance of courses on project management, systems engineering, software development, business process improvement, and cybersecurity. As a trainer, he has over 20,000 hours of classroom experience, spanning across 17 years. With that said, I’d to welcome you back, Jeff. And at this time, I’ll go ahead and hand it over to you to get us started with today’s session.

Jeff Bongiovani: Thank you so much. All right, let me show my screen here. There we go. All right. Well, good afternoon, and welcome to our first of three sessions for the SIPOC Workshop Facilitation. One of the ways that I wanted to kick this off, was just to say, out of the three sessions that we have, this one in particular will lay the foundation for workshop strategies as well as workshop questions. Out of the three sessions, I think it’sa very important to start with theory in concept, some of you may be already familiar with SIPOC. Some of you may not. So to give you a thorough introduction related to a lot of the different concepts within project management theory and systems engineering theory, and then move forward into our other two sessions as we’ll have them over the next two weeks, to being able to hold workshops and also discuss really workshop questions and techniques, ultimately that will help getting the right answers.

Jeff Bongiovani: The overall course objectives, those of you are attending all three sessions. Number one, really plan how to lead your team through a successful SIPOC workshop. Now I take objectives very seriously in that case. We want it to be successful. We have to understand though what it means to be successful, is to make sure or to ensure that all of the thoughts, the ideas the team comes together. It’s more than just, here’s what we’re doing, it’s that we are doing this together, that presents some challenges at times, if you will. Secondly, being able to develop the techniques to guide team members through the creation of a new or mapping an existing or improving upon a current process. We have to understand that SIPOC could be utilized a number of different ways, but in which case for the most part, we can look at it through three different lenses, in that case of new, existing and improvement.

Jeff Bongiovani: And lastly, describe the integral techniques such as brainstorming, requirements management, work breakdown structures, quality monitoring, risk management, and all of the other wonderful things that perhaps as project managers, that we already understand we already employ or should be employing, that we can actually bring to the table the experience and the understanding behind those, and even use those techniques when it comes to maintaining processes. All right, without further ado though, here’s our first session. Overview of SIPOC and systems, and it looks they’re all smiling, ready for it to go. All right. So this go around, right? We want to describe the context of SIPOC within business process creation and improvement. Okay? Like I was saying, some of you may be unfamiliar with the concept of SIPOC, but nonetheless, we want to learn the theory, we will understand it thoroughly.

Jeff Bongiovani: A lot of times if you research it, they say a little bit here and there, but it holds a lot more when it comes to significance and understanding customer needs and process owner need, things that we develop, how we are able and capable of developing them. So we really do want to thoroughly explore that. Ultimately even though it’s not explicitly pointed out, along the way, what we’re going to accumulate are techniques, concepts, ideas that can attach themselves to SIPOC, that will really turn the tide when it comes to being successful or not successful, or in this case, a more robust mapping of business processes. All right, here we go. SIPOC, what does it mean? Well, really it is an acronym that stands for suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, and customers, which I’ve highlighted here.

Jeff Bongiovani: The S-I-P-O-C. The concept though, is that we can join these different qualities together from suppliers to customers by way of transforming inputs into outputs, through a process. The reason why originally, when I was thinking, okay, SIPOC in system. A system, what is the system? Ultimately, the way when I think of a system, is something that’s engineered to be able to perform and be able to provide. You want to get from point a to point B, right? Well, the idea is that, like any other engine, if you input the fuel, you hopefully get something out. Well, in this case, you look at it in terms of a supplier being the way, the source, for the fuel. The input being the fuel itself, the process is turning that fuel into acceleration, hence giving you that output of speed and thereby us behind the driver’s wheel being able to get from point A to point B. But nevertheless, here’s another example for you. Hopefully we can all relate to this, right?

Jeff Bongiovani: Okay. I remember way back when I was first learning these concepts of project management theory, where we talk about dependencies and concepts like that. I remember finish to start and start to start and start to finish and all these wondrous wonderful ways to connect things together. In that case, I was like, applying this to everyday life, it seems ridiculous. Right? I get thrown out of the house. We were like, Oh, well, before I could actually load the dishwasher, I need to have dirty dishes, that sort of thing. Okay. Finish to start relationship. Well, here’s the idea, right? We start perceiving. We could see things within this example, right. Suppliers. So when I think suppliers, right? I think, okay, well fed family with dirty plates. And of course, what do they have? They’re supplying me with the dirty plates, hence the inputs. Right?

Jeff Bongiovani: Nevertheless, what else do I need besides having those dirty plates for the overall process? Let me draw some lines here. I have a household shopper. I do. I have a household shopper. And what is that household shop are doing? They’re supplying me with the soap, not necessarily the water. We can talk about the larger perspective of paying the mortgage and having plumbing and all of that, there’s a deeper context, but let’s just say there’s water in the sink. Thank goodness. Coming out of the faucet. And also what is that? Well, you’re scraping the dishes or throwing things away. They got paper towels and they’ve got extra stuff that’s left over. You have the trash emptier, providing me with hopefully an empty trash can. But that’s the idea. Suppliers supply you the inputs, they’re giving you the tools you need in order to follow through with that process, that dish washing process.

Jeff Bongiovani: Now, inevitably, you can say to yourself, Jeff, there’s something missing here, right? When we’re thinking of a process, we’re thinking of also there are folks who have to wash the dishes, the dishwashers, right? We think in terms of the process as that step by step, the things I’m going to do, to transform the dirty plates in the clean plates and using all the tools necessary to get it accomplished. Inevitably we do have to discuss, yes, there are process owners, but the focus here, dishwash process. Okay, great. Well, why do we do it? Well, we need clean plates. We need a clean sink. We need less soap. Right? Well, we don’t need less soap, but that’s what’s going to happen, right? More trash. Great.

Jeff Bongiovani: And so the recipients of the fallout of needing the clean plates and needing the clean sink, right? Is the fact that, well, you have a hungry family needing clean plates. The customers set the pace there. This is why we started the whole process in the first place. Because when it comes down to it, dinner time with dirty plates, what, are you kidding me? There are no clean plates? Right? That’s some requirements management, right? Risk owners. Well, you think about this, the risk owners, the other people who are the customers, the shopping list and trash emptying triggers, right? Once we’ve reached a certain level of soap, it’s time to reorder the soap, right? As well as the trash emptying triggers where you said, we’re running risks. That trash can is getting full.

Jeff Bongiovani: But nevertheless, this is the idea. This is the simplicity of it, right? Yeah. So, okay. So some processes are complex and some have multiple tiers. We’ll talk about that. But nevertheless, the ideas, getting the job accomplished for the sake of the customer. So what’s the purpose of SIPOC? Right? What is this purpose? Well, first and foremost, the history behind and my first approach, I don’t know if anybody read the teaser article, but the idea was that, originally when I was introduced to it, was during an ISO audit. It was actually an external audit for our organization. And one of the things that I remarked on was the fact like, wow, this is amazing. The auditor asked the question and we’re fulfilling that. Right?

Jeff Bongiovani: Well, come to find out months in advance, the directors were really drilling it in everybody’s mind, say what you do, do what you say, prove it. Well, in that case, if you are preparing for an ISO audit, what better than to say, okay, well, here’s what we do, and here’s how we can prove that we do what we say we do. The idea is to have the flow chart itself, right? To have the process, to have the documentation, a fix to that process, is a wonderful thing. Secondly, right? It’s part of the DMAIC define stage, right? Those of you who study up on Lean Six Sigma, although it’s not exclusive just to Lean Six Sigma. The concept though, that drives the Lean Six Sigma concept, the define, the measure, the analyze, improve, control. SIPOC really does, it facilitates customer and requirements identification.

Jeff Bongiovani: It starts there. Okay, here’s our customer, here’s what they want, now let’s build backwards to what we can supply them. In fact, some of you might say, well, it’s not SIPOC, COPIS. C-O-P-I-S, and that’s fine. One of the techniques, if we are trying to build a process of, well, okay, we’re project managers, we know that we start with the customer, tell me what you need, give me some user stories. Let’s lay this out. It’s an Epic, huh, that’s great. And then we start thinking, okay, so here’s the product model. And then here’s the process. Let’s break that down. Let’s break it down into different stages and steps and things like that. And let’s see what sort of supplies, the funding, the resources do we need and where can we get those from?

Jeff Bongiovani: We’re used to that way of looking at things if we’ve done project management before. But nonetheless when we’re looking in terms of the definition, the customer requirements, identification, it joins along with, or a company, a lot of times with problem identification, voice of customer and critical to quality concepts. Last but not least, really just saying, just generally, conceptually, establishes a customer focused framework through which the, quote unquote, necessary components of a process can be defined and improved. Where does that definition come from? Observation. It really does seem to be customer focused, where we could start with the customer and making sure that we have everything that backs up what we need to provide for that customer.

Jeff Bongiovani: The necessary components in that case, it’s examining, okay, well, what do they get? What do they receive? In which case, the concept of defined and improved, is that a lot of times, you think about doctors, right? Doctors, they study human anatomy in the sense of trying to find the baseline, what is the healthy body? How should these organs, these cells, everything work? 100%, before they can go on to really say, okay, well, show me where it hurts. The idea is there, before we can truly improve, we have to know what’s there. We have to know what it should be, what exactly exists in the state that it is, and then ultimately be able to say, how do we get from that point A to Point B?

Jeff Bongiovani: I’ve thought about it, and how I’ve used it and how I’ve seen co-workers use it. How I’ve seen, well, non co-workers use it as well. The purpose and action of SIPOC ultimately comes down to these qualities. We’re talking in terms of developing more or less a step-by-step plan for how all customer requirements are met. That’s really what we want to do. Right? That’s the objective. Secondly, really seeking clarification on the necessary components of a process, right? The emphasis there is clarification. Think about this. How many times might you expect, if you said, okay, I don’t know how many of you are managers, directors, what have you, not to say that you’re managing a space, that is as the Wild West. But especially let’s frame it like this, if it’s a new process, if it’s something that is, hey, this policy change is now having us do this.

Jeff Bongiovani: We’ve got to use this template. We’ve got to put these headers and footers on all of our documents because of say, like a data governance policy or something like that. Right? You walk in and you say, okay, well where’s the policy you’re getting that information from? You ask the question. Okay. Well, shouldn’t you know where that’s located or how do you know that you’re doing the right thing? Have you used the correct template? Is this applied correctly to that set document? You start asking these questions and you start to figure out, right? What’s clear and what’s not clear, what’s transparent and what’s not. And so you really don’t know you know what you don’t know if you’re not asking questions. In that case, you said, okay, well, what do I ask? Right? What are those questions that I should be asking?

Jeff Bongiovani: I believe very strongly. Yes., if you begin with the concept of, okay, well, have you spoken to the customer? Is that really what they want? What are their several different qualities? If you said, okay, well, this person’s running this process. Do they have everything they need? Where do they get it from? Ultimately getting down to the questions, I hate to say, but how long does it take before this person hands it off to you? That particular supplier. You’ve had the policy update. They said they were going to hand it off to you, my policy publisher. But how long have you been waiting for that? Have they given you a timeline? Have they given you a deadline for when they’re going to provide that for you? Trying to say, okay, well, is it clear? Is it predictable? In that case, identifying that which lacks clarification.

Jeff Bongiovani: But then it comes down to the broadening of your definition. What do we mean by necessary components? Because even still within just the confines of examining suppliers and processes and customers and inputs and outputs, there’s a lot of other things that we can afix to this. We can say, okay, well, when it comes down to the customer necessary component, literally yes. There’s the customer. They told me what they wanted. Did you take notes? Did you write that down? When it comes to the process, do you have some order of traceability? Have you said, okay, here are the customer requirements. We’ve negotiated these back and forth. Is there a timeline when it comes to the concept of stakeholder management? I’m sure we’re familiar, right? Those of us who have studied PMI, PMBOK guide, under monitoring and controlling, there are certain things you can control, and definitely stakeholders, well, you got to monitor them, you can’t control them, if only, right?

Jeff Bongiovani: But the idea in that case is, these customers over here, is there an issue log? Did you log that? When it came down to the customer, kept on changing their mind back and forth. And when we deal with that particular customer, can we truly rely on them giving us the right answers right away? The necessary components live beyond just, okay, I literally wrote it down and being able to analyze the reality of the situation. And so it comes down to last, but not least, the recognition and remediation, if possible, and ultimate, the prevention of future disclarity. I italicized disclarity, because I was having perhaps one of my infamous Dr. Seuss moments or, well, I’m making up words, but I thought about it.

Jeff Bongiovani: I was like, well, there’s clarity, but then there’s disclarity, right? We want to be able to prevent where things are unclear. We don’t want it to be a question mark anymore. That sure it’s a fill in the blank, but it’s a blank we know we have to fill in. Goodness gracious. I don’t know, I’m going to date my, well, this is not dating myself. But that infamous, wonderful Rumsfeld speech, there are no knowns and known unknowns, and there are unknown unknowns. And if as project managers, as we’re going to talk about, or process managers, if there’s anything about it, we crave predictability. We ultimately want to say, I need to know. And if there’s something that like, oh, I should be asking this question. I should be investigating this. That’s the idea, we want to prevent that future disclarity.

Jeff Bongiovani: I’m pulling out the risk logs, saying, okay, well here, it’s just a requirement. Has this changed over time? That’s the idea. Here’s the idea though, the perspective, right? We lay down the purpose, the objectives, the concepts, but the perspective, ultimately yes, is the perspective of the process, process owners meeting customer needs. Because it does, it really focuses first on the customer. And the idea is that we need those requirements. So we need the feedback and the feedback from the customer to the process owner. There has to be communication. This is not good enough. This is not right. This is not what I asked for. This is incomplete. We have to log that we have to understand, okay, so this is where those needs are not being met, ultimately between the process and the supplier, right?

Jeff Bongiovani: In order to deliver what they need to, to the customer, they need to have that feedback, give the feedback to the supplier, the supplier who’s ultimately willing to be able to change. Now, I say, okay, we’re sticking with theory. Love these wonderful diagrams. Let’s revisit those wonderful friends of ours surrounding the meal time, not to make you hungry, but it is noon. And hopefully you’re well fed or eating right now and enjoying the show. But here’s the idea, right? The fundamental questions from those suppliers, the welfare family with dirty plates, are supplying those dirty plates to the dishwasher, the household shopper who’s providing the soap and the trash emptier who has the empty trash can, or at least keeping their eye on the risk triggers of having two full of a trash can, that the dishwasher can not provide additional trash in it.

Jeff Bongiovani: Now did the inputs meet the needs and the expectation of the process owners. Ultimately if they’re not, think about this, my goodness, you’re cooking with all these pots and pans, every night for three hours, I’m sitting at the sink and I wash those dishes. No, I don’t have a problem with that. That’s fine. We have a dishwasher. But the idea is that maybe manual labor is not the way to go, is there a way that we can automate this process? Perhaps have a robot do it, or a machine. Can we afford to buy a dishwasher? And if we can’t, write that supplier, say no, I’m sorry. Or whoever’s governing this. Right? Ultimately, maybe it’s not the suppliers, but in which case could you not dirty up those plates as much? Could you empty the trash more often? Or in other words, could you buy the soap that doesn’t stink? Because every time I put those clean plates out, everybody’s like, why does this smell so rife with lemons? I don’t know.

Jeff Bongiovani: But ultimately did the outputs meet the needs and expectations of the customers, right? These dishes, they have spots on them. You need to tell me when the soap gets low, that sort of thing. This is the idea though. And for some of us, maybe you’re envisioning similarities in the workplace. You say, well, you left this off of the report. Is there a checklist you’re following? And then we go through these means of retraining and trying different ways to improve it. But that’s the idea, the focus on the needs and the expectations of people who have to do things and people who are having to receive things. There, we have it.

Jeff Bongiovani: Here’s the other part, because if we’re going to facilitate some kind of workshop, some improvement, we have to understand, SIPOC can provide an overview, it can, top level. If we look at this, okay, so we have our internal policy publication, our entire organization, whenever there’s a change in policy, we have to ensure that everyone in the organization has read and accepted that particular change in the policy. Right? In which case, if we said, here’s the overview, here’s the entire idea. Right? But we understand there’s a backlog, because there have been policy updates. But the concept is that whoever’s doing the publications hasn’t released these brand new policy updates, or there are certain things that people need to know, but that’s not made available.

Jeff Bongiovani: So there might be a breakdown. So where don’t we begin? We could begin at the top. We can say, okay, well, we have the new updated policies and then the internal policy publication, being able to release that, we ultimately have the output of published internal policies, or the customers of that, the directors, the managers, and ultimately the entire organization. But if we’re examining something that might be flawed or broken, or we anticipate, how could this break, we got to start to dive deeper. You could start to imagine much if we were working out a project and we started those top levels, right? Just the overall gist of the thing. How long is this going to take? Well, I can’t tell you, but if I broke it into smaller pieces, I could start to estimate things.

Jeff Bongiovani: I could start to pinpoint if I start looking closer and examining more closely at the situation, how that could be improved. So phases, we could start to document the different phases within the internal policy and publication process. And maybe that doesn’t go far enough. You got to look at the tasks within one phase of the internal policy and publication process. But the reason why I said here decomposition, is that sometimes what is inflicting the problem isn’t necessarily found in the entire scope of the process, but rather one small part.

Jeff Bongiovani: And we may not have to fix the entire thing, quote unquote, maybe only fix one tiny piece. But I’ve seen it before. Internally the documentation that I like to keep is to say, okay, here’s the overall thing, here’s the project we’re working on. As Kyle had introduced me, I’m the lead course developers. Obviously one of the things that I need to keep a track of is number one, the overall process, right? I say, okay, what do you have? Well, here’s the ADDIE process model. We break it down simply, but when it comes down to it, being able to create the individual course materials and down to the very part of it, let’s say there’s one part where we’re trying to create digital materials for, let’s say, virtual delivery. And we need to give people workbooks where they can interact and type things into a PDF.

Jeff Bongiovani: Well, once again, got to break it down to that smallest piece, down to the individual procedure. So you should be able to use it scalably and they should all be able to fit together fairly well. Now, another way to ultimately look at it. You might say, okay, Jeff, well, how have you not told me that this is project managing? I’d say, well, okay, it’s a framework, we’ll be able to separate or divide those concepts. But within one field of study to the next, you can’t help but say, well, I’ve got all these tools and my toolbox over here. I know about project managing. Perhaps I could use this over in business process improvement. And to that extent, yeah. Think about this, workflow dependencies, you have process interdependency.

Jeff Bongiovani: Here you have process A, right? Process A, provides an output, the output from process A. Ultimately turns around in some cases, most cases, the input for process B. You look at that middle column here, you see here, process A customer, process B supplier. Ultimately the customer is the supplier for the next process. That might be one person. And so the expectation in quality, the expectation in being able to fulfill the needs of the next thing that has to happen, is ultimately beset on this previous item. Now, I don’t know if we’ve examined things that way before, but it’s like, okay, well, you’re building a house, you build a frame. Well, it’s a shoddy frame. Well, good luck guys building that roof on top of it. Right? That sort of thing. But the idea is that, in that moment, when we could say, okay, you’ve received this output, here you are as the customer.

Jeff Bongiovani: When I say customer, I don’t mean external, this could be internal, right? Hopefully I didn’t have to point that out explicitly, but the ideas that, I may be, as lead course developer, the customer of one of the instructional designers saying, by the way, Jeff here, I completed putting together this PowerPoint presentation for X, Y, Z seminar next week. Now the idea is at that point, what do we have? We have a handoff, we have a check mark in a list. There is a requirements, verification validation, okay, well, I’m going to run it through a QA process, but first I’m going to have a SMEE review, everything you put into this. And then I’m going to be able to say, here’s the process. If I don’t find everything I need, what do I need to do?

Jeff Bongiovani: Well, you know what, we got a plan for that. I just throw it right back there. Well, before we can go on to the next stage, we going to make sure that this is 100%. But it’s in those handoffs, a lot of times where we said, let’s set up something, let’s set up this phase gate, this handoff, let’s just pause for a moment, evaluate the quality, be able to evaluate whether or not you’ve met all the requirements. There has to be that level of communication between the process say, hey, I’ve got this ready for you. I’m sending it your way, or I’ve uploaded this to our SharePoint site or our document sharing site or whatever you have. But ultimately that’s where we said, okay, we’ve handed it all. But in all of that verification as well, we said, well, is this taking the time that we expected? Is process A handing off to process B in a timely manner? How often do we have to say, man, you know what, that was really horrible.

Jeff Bongiovani: Or how many times have we said, you know what, that was really excellent. When did you get that done? Well, three days ago, that sort of thing. In process monitoring, we do, we have baselines. We have expectations, not just from the requirements, but when it comes to, well, how shall I say it? The quality expectations when it comes to business requirements as well, when it comes to the time and effort, as well as funding, we have that as well. And then right, going back to that ISO 9000 concept of documentation, here’s our point to say, during those external audits, by the way, here’s, well, you could say here’s the email they sent me. Here’s our overall requirements checklist. Here’s where I initialed it in ink or digitally. That’s the idea.

Jeff Bongiovani: There is a relevance to project managing. I think to this point, if we’re laying out the concept, the theory of SIPOC, we’re going to apply it, right? Workshops, ask questions, drive towards something better. What is that something better? Well, there’s the consideration that we have to make. Now, the reason why I’m putting it up here and everybody’s like, finally look at that. I love that triangle, Jeff. I love it. It’s a blast from the past. It’s my home, right? That glorious PMBOK guide, sixth edition. Here’s the idea though. The preamble, right? You look at the citation bottom right hand corner, page 10. Page 10. This is not on page 915. This is on page 10, effective project management. Okay. Number one helps increase chances of success, delivers the right products at the right time. Optimizes the use of organizational resources, helps to balance the influence of constraints on the project.

Jeff Bongiovani: For example, increased scope may increase costs or schedule. It’s that last one. I’m really in love with that last one. It helps individuals, groups in public and private organizations to be more predictable. Now I know that teenagers throw it around as an insult. Man, you’re so predictable, but the idea is yeah. Think about this. This is what I used to discuss with my students, during break times or in class, when we’re talking about the essentials, the project management theory. We said, look, project managing is fundamentally, you get an idea in your head, that’s what I want. And you think before do it. And you think through all the consequences, all the benefits and you problem solve. And I want to be able to get there. Years later here, we’re living a routine, maybe we’re paying rent or mortgage or we live out of the back of a car. I don’t know what you do.

Jeff Bongiovani: But the idea is if I asked you the routine that you have day-to-day, why do you have that routine? Well, Jeff, because I want to be able to pay my bills. I want to be able to get to work tomorrow. I want to ensure that I’m eating meals. I want to have shelter, because why? We want tomorrow to be predictable. What have we forged here? We forged something out of all of these lessons learned hopefully throughout our life and have intentionally said, I want to be more predictable, not to say that’s such a bad thing. And we take vacation, every once in a while, we’ll be impulsive. You know what, I bought a brand new outfit. Is that a new haircut? Did you dye your hair red? Quarantine for the last year has driven us to say, well, maybe there needs to be a little more spontaneity, because even though I was predictable, I still want to feel I’m in control.

Jeff Bongiovani: But the idea is that predictability is the cornerstone. It’s something where you said, okay, how do we drive towards predictability? Well, first of all, what is SIPOC telling us? Just like we would say, okay, well in every action, identify the customer needs goals and requirements. The outputs, you can say there are outputs, products and services, absolutely say we’ve got to do something in order to get something to those customers. You can obviously point out resources who are accountable for enabling and or providing those outputs, people perhaps, or machines, funding. All of these things have to be consumed as fuel, as effort that gives those outputs. And in which case, the inputs and suppliers that provide those inputs. So it is, it’s true. Those are the things that we can identify. Those are inevitable, right?

Jeff Bongiovani: The reason why I put that diagram down to the bottom, is that, sure, it’s a snowflake, project work, it’s unique. It’s never been done before. But the same way in which we could rationalize, it has never been done before, we can definitely apply to it’s been said and done a million times because the need for solution persists. The project work is building the bridge, right? The functional work is maintaining the bridge, but the beauty, the beauty behind the fact that functional work, functional work should be predictable, right? It should be, we’re getting close to solving the game, but nevertheless, there are going to be changes. I hate to have cited the fact and reminded everyone over the last year, oh my goodness gracious, we’re sidelined, right? We’ve got this pandemic that’s going on.

Jeff Bongiovani: Suddenly now, we’ve transitioned to a virtual environment. We still have to meet particular deadlines. There are certain things where we could collaborate in person we no longer can. Do we have the hardware? Does everybody at home have the proper bandwidth? If anything screams overall enterprise risk management, my goodness gracious, did we see that coming. Just in, what? What was the year? 2011, when we had that earthquake in Maryland. There are things that we don’t expect to happen, but that’s the idea in project work. If you’re a project manager, you know what, I’m not trying to butter you up, but the idea is that you understand chaos just a little bit better than a functional manager. In that case, yeah, because you’re dealing with something that’s brand new, that perhaps has never been done before. I use the example of building a bridge, because why? You could say it’s the, quote unquote, usual snowflake.

Jeff Bongiovani: But the idea is though maintaining the bridge, you have it there, it’s already built. We know its qualities. We can see it. We can try to work out a better way. Here’s what we can bring to the table as project managers. I’m going to take you into a crazy place. So just hold onto your seats for a second. This is one of my favorite diagrams. It’s one of my favorite diagrams, especially over the last few years when I’ve been teaching agile project management and the concepts of agile, because predictability, right? This being what uncertainty in the Stacey complexity model, you look in the bottom left hand corner, you just saw, look at that waterfall, right? Technical degree of uncertainty versus the requirements uncertainty. In the bottom left hand corner, we have bridge building, it’s like bridges are not a new concept.

Jeff Bongiovani: Cars are not a new concept. Chair’s, not a new concept. At some point they were, chairs perhaps started all the way, what… Wrong way, Jeff. Started all the way up here and it’s like, chairs, you’re going to make something that stands on wooden pegs and expect to hold your weight? That sort of thing. But the idea is that why, over time it’s like, iteration, generation two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, 400. Now it’s something, okay, well, if you can’t build a chair, you can look it up on YouTube, or you can watch a masterclass on it on LinkedIn or whatever. Right? But the idea is, we’re trying to drive. We looked at that concept of within the beginning of the PMBOK guide of, we want things to be more predictable, how infuriating that it’s not.

Jeff Bongiovani: We can’t always be there. Right? We cannot always make everything. Software development that’s cutting edge, producing, let’s say sustainable. And when I talk about that green organization that is global, having to meet all of these different, changing environmental codes and things that, may never be truly waterfall. What needs the grow ultimately is the practice itself. It has to be something, for example, we would say, okay, well, we have to have scrums. We have to have stand up meetings. We have to have risk assessment meetings, once a week. We have to have constant iteration of requirements. We have to look at something that is ultimately, if there’s a change in this code here, how does that impact full requirements traceability, really focused. The idea there is, yeah, it can be very stressful to hang out in that area, but that builds a strengthened team.

Jeff Bongiovani: Now all of these concepts, definitely if you’re saying, man, this guy, is he out in left field? Where is he going with all of this? These are all going to play ultimately apart when we’re looking at the SIPOC diagram, because you think about, when it comes to building around extremely high pressure situations, when it comes to building processes, even functional processes around areas that are highly uncertain when it comes to requirements, or do we have the labor for this? Whom can we purchase, quote unquote, when it comes to our contract for this? One of the golden lessons here, is being able to study up with a ready, fire, aim, constantly re-aiming, because that’s a very, very quick moving target.

Jeff Bongiovani: But part of it is, when you have requirements uncertainty, you need more political decision-making, you need stronger negotiation skills. When it comes to the complexity, right? Learning and creativity. You shouldn’t pursue those things that are out there in chaos. But if so, man, you’re going to be that infamous engineer that pours millions of dollars into some kind of research and development project, to see what you can get out of it. When it comes to judgmental decision making really is, what is the ultimate desired future? We have to really say, is it worth the price that we’re paying and where is the true quality ad within the process? I did have a slide here. I wanted to run through quickly, but this uncertainty spectrum most definitely take elation.

Jeff Bongiovani: And like, they said, take a screenshot if you want, but going from scenario A to scenario B and back and forth, we really do have to understand, we have to understand what that complexity and craziness is going to occur. Right? What’s the level of governance, is it one department overseeing the entire operation or is it three different departments disagreeing over priority? What are the needs? Are the needs of the customers fairly obvious or are the obfuscated and nebulous? I’m not saying that it’s going to be either or, right? Fairly obvious. Well, that’s great, walk right in, sit right down. That’s it. Game over.

Jeff Bongiovani: Well, I think this is in the books and it just, no, but obfuscated and nebulous, hopefully, they’re not dealing with two year olds. Right? I have kids. It’s like, what did you want? I wanted the [inaudible 00:46:06]. And then throwing the tantrum. I love my children. I don’t like to encounter the same behavior with grown adults. But the idea is that, on the one hand, scenario A and what they all have in common, is that these are all set up super easy. Scenario B is getting towards that end of the spectrum, where the, quote unquote, look at this inputs, well, make do with what you have. You want more funding, too bad. The scope, inversely proportionate to deadlines. Hopefully I’m not having you relive any trauma out there. Quality standards, quote unquote, I’ll know it when I see it.

Jeff Bongiovani: And I’ll tell you, but I won’t give a hint as to how you should correct it. The associated risks. Well, let’s just focus on getting it done and not worry about talking about it and all the problems. Inevitably SIPOC forces us to confront the people who are involved with this. The process is complex perhaps, but perhaps the people are complex as well, which is why we want to be extremely mindful when we’re asking the questions and performing our workshop techniques. To be able to keep a mind on, who are these people? Who are the folks who are surrounding the process within the scope of the process, that might actually be pushing back? I’m just saying, I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen SIPOC workshops go sideways, because who are these people coming in here asking all these questions?

Jeff Bongiovani: They’re not living that fight day-to-day to get everything done. And now they want me to come in and they want to tell me this. I can tell you as a trainer, the worst part was having group therapy sessions, meaning, to say, I’ve seen it throughout all of the decades of teaching, where you say, well, you came in here for time management. Oh yeah, yeah, time management. Did your manager attend this? Oh no, no, no, no, no. They told us to come because we weren’t hitting deadlines. Why aren’t you hitting deadlines? All of you, aren’t hitting deadlines? What are the expectations of those deadlines? That’s the real question. There has to be a give and take as far as expectation is concerned and some might be unrelenting.

Jeff Bongiovani: The challenges, I had already started out the discussion on this, longevity of existing processes, newer processes, think about it are largely untested. It’s the exceptions, it’s the risks involved. When we’re novel to something, we don’t always see it coming. Largely untested let’s say processes, they lack the exposure to exceptions, risks that help to correct course, if you will. There might be a disagreement in the process or customer prioritization. Right? So standardization, getting it down, having some ranking when it comes to that. It’s very similar to those of you familiar with why we need to have in risk management, ultimately have an objective measure. Okay. So qualitative risk management isn’t necessarily 100%, how shall we say, objective. But in quality and risk management, we at least have predefined a category and we can at least try to nudge those particular risks into those categories.

Jeff Bongiovani: Level of process control and authority. Well, the unfortunate thing is the number of external regulation, suppliers and external customers. It’s a challenge, a lot times to have an accurate time, estimated process or an effort related process, or ultimately nailed down solid requirements, management process. And then fortunately there is the variability in decision-making. If we’re looking at a flow chart, the more decision points that you have, you’re really creating for exponential complexity. We’ll have to discuss, in situations like that, what you can actually do. The quote there and the emphasis being, drawing a straight line through scattered dots. That’s ultimately what we’re trying to get to. We can try to connect all those dots, but a lot of times they’re so far away from one another, we have to negotiate.

Jeff Bongiovani: What does that mean then? If we start to apply our concepts from project management theory, systems theory to ultimately to the SIPOC idea, going back to what we said before, in every action you should be able to identify, number one, governance. Questions like, what if we run into an issue, to whom do we do we turn? When there’s a conflict between the supplier providing that input to the process owner, who’s overseeing this, what is our procedure behind it? Requirements traceability, ultimately the relevance and the purpose of doing what we’re doing. If we look into a document and read that particular form entering in that particular line item, why are we doing that? What does that help to fulfill? I said at the very beginning, what are we doing with this? What is the purpose behind it? But when we’re doing any practice in Lean Six Sigma, you got to say, okay, making it lean.

Jeff Bongiovani: The idea is that, why do we have to do it? Is there a purpose and a relevance behind it? Or can we eliminate that and simplify the process. The scope, right? We find that those who are the process owners are not being given everything from the supplier that they have to do their own research. They have to go out there and research the policy on their own, whereas it should have been handed off. Baselined expectations, setting quotas, setting this concept, it should take a week, and being able to work with that expectation, by not overworking the suppliers or the process owners. Ultimately when there is that handoff of inputs to the process or outputs to the customer, what type of verification, validation quality management are we doing?

Jeff Bongiovani: Ultimately, do we have a risk log? Are we meeting on that risk log? Are we ultimately discussing old and outdated risks, getting rid of them or updating it or, or even paying attention to it? Dear goodness, we have it out there. Do you read it? I know it’s not everybody like, you know what I did, I did yesterday during my lunch, I just read through our risk register. It was exciting. Okay. I would, okay, but I’m a nerd like that. Maybe we should have meetings to review those things. Ultimately, last but not least, communication planning, there has to be that connect. There has to be this idea that the supplier and the process owner have open communication, that they know how to communicate with one another same between the customer and the process owner.

Jeff Bongiovani: Now, what does that look like? Well, we return back to that original diagram, the SIPOC diagram. My goodness. I will pop this up in session two again, but SIPOC expanded. If you really say, there’s our supplier, our inputs, processes, outputs, and customers. This just puts all of what I identified on the previous slide relevant to where it goes. There’s the governing body over that process, stakeholder identification. There’s a RACI chart. Oh man. RACI charts, love them. Responsible, accountable, consult inform. Wow. Communication plans, process requirements, customer requirements. What do we have here though? I’m seeing an anatomical chart of a process and there’s still, Jeff, man. You’re missing a whole lot of boxes there. We’ve got to start somewhere though.

Jeff Bongiovani: How do we get to the risk register entries? Do we have that? How do we identify the risks? How do we start the conversation about risks, process monitoring? That’s where we want to arrive, to a well protected insulated, but also extensible and adaptable process. Here’s the lead in, in the last few minutes that I have here. Okay? I’m happy if you have any questions I’ve left you ample time to ask all of them. I’m just kidding. I will answer them as quickly as we possibly can. But here’s the idea, where to begin, number one, asking the pertinent questions, what isn’t working as expected, quote unquote, not quite meeting the bar or if you’re setting the bar higher? How large is the scope of the problem and ultimately who are the people located within that scope?

Jeff Bongiovani: That at least allows us to identify the impacted area. Now through further identification and problem solving and looking at root cause analysis, we may find, it’s further upstream than we actually really knew. But the idea is who are the people located within that scope. Plan and prepare for the SIPOC workshops. We want to head in there with a plan, an agenda. It isn’t just like, hey guys, five minutes, let’s meet in the conference room and talk about flow charts. It’s not like that. You need to walk in with a plan, with an intention, but you have to allow the attendees to lead, especially if you find yourself, you are at that top, you are the governance.

Jeff Bongiovani: The idea is really looking at and examining, I’m on the side of the customers from a governance standpoint, who are the customers? Business objectives? You got the overall customer products, and the organizational needs as well as the external customer needs. You said, okay, I have my eye on that, now, let’s figure out something to negotiate where we can go. Really inviting all those who are relevant within that scope to contribute their input, the feedback process, directors, managers, work resources, SMEEs. You ultimately are doing it for more than one reason. When I explained to folks, why do we have a risk meeting where we have everybody involved and where they’re free to express and be transparent. But the idea is that you’re doing it, not just to assess risks, you’re doing it because the team, right?

Jeff Bongiovani: You need to feel, this is our process, we’re in this together. And so ultimately going from point A, to point B, as it is, in the transition to the ideal, inside deal, it’s going to be a focus. The idea is that we can arrive just at the end point, fixing it or having it be perfect. In other words, we might say, what’s the purpose of the SIPOC Workshop, just this, that’s it. Later, if we feel inspired, maybe we can think about these two, but ultimately we got to start with how things are, the reality of it. All right. Hopefully at this point, you can describe the context of the SIPOC, business process creation and improvement, but we’ve also defined techniques that help to enable a more robust mapping of business processes.

Jeff Bongiovani: Like I said, I didn’t explicitly state them, but maybe I did. We’re running a risk register. We’ve got to look at requirements traceability. We have to think who’s problem resolution, things like that. All right. Ladies and gents, are there any questions, anything I can answer for you?

Kyle: Thanks Jeff. I don’t see any questions in the queue just yet, but that line is open if anyone wants to submit one, we can take it now. Before we wrap up today, anything else from your side, Jeff, did you want to share your information for anyone out there?

Jeff Bongiovani: Oh yeah. Okay. Can I type my message in the chat?

Kyle: Yeah, I can repost it, if you chat it in there.

Jeff Bongiovani: Okay. Like Kyle had said, I’m with an organization that’s called Edward’s Performance Solutions. We do all sorts of wonderful things, ranging from cybersecurity, any project management consultation, business process improvement consultation. And to that extent, if you did have any questions and you said, I don’t want to ask in front of everybody else. You certainly can, I’ve given Kyle my email and now Kyle, it appears has given it to everyone else. Is that true? You got it/

Kyle: Yup. That should be in the chat for everybody.

Jeff Bongiovani: Okay. I’m just double checking that I spelled that correctly and it looks right to me. Yup. Okay. No, that’s not right. I knew there was something.

Kyle: Well, just shoot me an email, Jeff, and I’ll include that [crosstalk 01:00:22]. Anyone watching on demand can just look below on the webpage, it’ll be down at the bottom, on Jeff’s profile. I think that does it for today’s session. Jeff, we have two more sessions coming up and I’ll get that info on the screen for everybody. I’ll also chat it over the link to register for part two. If you haven’t done that already, that is part two and three are open for registration.

Jeff Bongiovani: That’s fantastic. Good.

Kyle: If you’re claiming the PDU for today’s session. The code is back on the screen again, eligible for one strategic PMI, PDU, mpug031721. This is what you’ll use to do that. Here’s a look at those next two sessions, and what we’ll do then. Part two will cover SIPOC workshop strategies, and part three SIPOC workshop… I guess that’s not true. Part of three-

Jeff Bongiovani: Workshop questions.

Kyle: Workshop questions. Okay, great.

Jeff Bongiovani: It will be the actual questions and conducting the workshop itself.

Kyle: Okay. Perfect. Those sessions will be conducted on the next two following Wednesdays at the same time, 12 Eastern time. That wraps up today. Jeff, once again, thank you for your time and for sharing your expertise with the MPUG community. We appreciate that. We want to thank everyone that joined us live or is watching this on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll see you back next Wednesday for part two. Cool. Thanks.

 

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Written by Jeff Bongiovani

Jeff Bongiovani is currently the Lead Course Developer for Edwards Performance Solutions who oversees the production and maintenance of courses on Project Management, Systems Engineering, Software Development, Business Process Improvement, and Cybersecurity. He is also a trainer with over 20,000 hours of classroom experience spanning 17 years.

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