Last Updated on 8 September 2023
A COPIS diagram is a high-level process map that gives you a quick overview of the process from the customer’s point of view. It is the customer-focused version of the SIPOC diagram.
It is an acronym that stands for Customers Outputs Process Inputs Suppliers:
It is the customer-focused alternative to a SIPOC diagram, and is essentially a SIPOC in reverse. The main difference is it concentrates more on the areas around the process than the process itself. It often includes the CTQs (quantified customer needs), so you can see how well the process matches up to customer requirements.
When do you use COPIS diagrams?
It is a high-level overview of a process that you use in the define phase of DMAIC to help define the opportunity. It can often show that the process is nowhere near working for the needs of the customer, so we usually make it early enough that you can change to DMADV if the process needs a complete rewrite rather than just improvement.
You can also use it when designing new processes, as it starts from customer needs, and takes you through all the steps in order for how to meet those needs, and the customer should be the focus of most of your processes.
Why do we use them?
A common question is why would we use it over the more common SIPOC diagrams. The key difference between the two charts is that COPIS diagram is more customer focused, and can make sure that the CTQ factors are being covered off.
The other advantage is that by starting with the needs of the customer is that you are looking at the customer BEFORE you are looking at the process, so you are matching the process to the customer needs rather than trying to force the customer needs to match what the process makes. This can result in a process that is much better matched to true value add activities.
There is always a danger in process improvement that we make a process ‘better’ without making it more useful to the customer. Any work we do that the customer doesn’t value is waste so we should always do process improvement with the voice of the customer in mind, rather than just making improvements we want to do.
How do you make a COPIS diagram?
They are easy to draw and quick to fill in, making them fantastic as the first process map that you make in a project.
Firstly, create a table with the following columns:
- CTQs – this one is optional but I like to include it to keep you focused on customer need
At this point your table should look something like this:
From there you simply fill in the table in order for the process:
The users of the outputs from the process, that the process is creating the value for.
Get the voice of the customer for the customers of the process that you’re trying to meet the needs of. List out the CTQs (specific product measurables agreed with the customer) relevant to the customer(s) in the table.
You don’t need to make a CTQ column, but it’s essential that you make sure that the outputs line up well with the needs of the customer.
List the outputs that the process creates that go to the customers.
If you’ve included the CTQ column, it is good practice to make sure that you connect the outputs to the CTQs. This will make sure that we are focusing the process on what is important to the customer, and that every key CTQ deliverable is covered off. Outputs that aren’t connected to a CTQ we can then review to see if they are actually necessary.
The major steps that produce the outputs needed by the customer. It doesn’t need to be enough detail to perform the process, just enough to understand the process.
Not all COPIS diagrams include the process steps, as the diagram is more about the ‘CO’ and ‘IS’ sections. In this case the process column will just be a dark vertical line to show where the process is in the diagram.
List the resources you use to complete the process that will be used in creating the outputs that you need. This can be physical products for manufacturing industries or for service industries this may be data or reports from other departments.
Choose the best suppliers that you can use to get the resources from, taking into account the factors important to you, such as price, quality and speed. At the start of a project you are usually just listing the current suppliers, but you can use this opportunity to see if there are better options.
COPIS diagram example
Below is a service industry example: they work just as well for services as for products.
The process is credit checking the customers. It shows the key outputs (the credit report and a rating that can be used to give credit limits), and these are linked to the customer need of protecting against bad debts. The customer in this case is internal; several departments of the organization.
It’s also worth noting that the sales team is a customer and suppliers, as they need to know how trustworthy the customer is, to know how much to sell and what terms to give. They are also the source of most of the information that is used to make the decisions.
I made this diagram in Microsoft Visio, which is a great way of making diagrams of all kinds, although Excel and Word (as well as non-Microsoft equivalents) work just as well.
I’ve made a few templates (in Microsoft software) that will get you started quickly on making your own.
This template is the Excel one I’ve used above. It’s also the one I normally use myself.
If you’re more of a Microsoft Word fan (or you’re putting it in a word report), they’re easy to make in Word too. In case you want a head-start, there’s a template download below:
It’s common to include process maps in presentations as they give a good overview, so you’ll often want to make them in Powerpoint. Powerpoint is set up to look good presentationally, so if you’re going to be showing many people, it can be a good option.
If you want a quick way to start, you can download a ready to fill in version below: