I get asked a lot about the "SIPOC" tool and how best to use it. Well, its an acronym for Supplier-Inputs-Process-Outputs-Customer. Dodgy internet posts suggest that the guy who invented the Christmas Cracker came up with this tool in the 1800's but I have my doubts! The more credible story is that it stemmed from William Deming's systems modelling work with Japanese manufacturing industries post World War II.
Basically, it's all about analysing a core business process to identify customer requirements and success measures. The great thing about SIPOC is that anyone, from a pizza shop to a mining company can use this very simple tool to improve their performance and create added value for their customers.
Smart organisations are starting to use this for critical processes in their value chain. Not only is it is a great way to create competitive advantage, it is also a really good mechanism to build a continuous improvement mindset.