Boundary Map

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

A Boundary Map (SIPOC) is useful for identifying the Suppliers, Inputs, Outputs, and Customers of a Process. This high-level map helps define the boundaries of your project so you know what is in-scope and out-of-scope.

Creating a Boundary Map with your sponsors provides a structured way to discuss the process and get a consensus on what it involves before moving to organize resources.

How to Apply It

  1. Identify the 4 – 7 key process steps, and write them out as a verb + noun (e.g. receive a complaint, open file).
  2. Determine what the input (e.g. data file, complaint form) is for each of your process steps.
  3. Determine what the output (e.g. phone call, report) is for each of your process steps.
  4. Determine the end-user or customer of the output.

Note: End-users of a process may not be the ultimate customer of the entire process

  1. Determine the supplier of the input.
  2. Once you have completed your SIPOC you can:
    1. Define the scope (start and end points) of your project,
    2. Confirm you have the right team members selected, and
    3. Reach out to the customers to obtain their input/feedback.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • Relying only on a SIPOC and not creating a more detailed process map increases the probability you will miss important details such as the hidden processes that feed into-level process it.
  • Work with your sponsors and/or team to develop the SIPOC to establish an agreement regarding the scope of the project.
  • Putting in too much detail into the SIPOC defeats its purpose as a simple visual to identify key elements such as macro steps and customers.

Key Points

  1. A Boundary Map (SIPOC) should take no more than 60 minutes to develop.
  2. Ideally, a SIPOC should be created with the sponsors and/or team.
  3. Use the tips and example below to help you create your map.

Boundary Map (SIPOC) Terms


Person or Entity

Providing the Input


Thing or Item


Macro Step


Product or Thing


End-User of the Output

Example Boundary Map (SIPOC) on the Complaint Process

Complaint Form
Receive Complaint
Call to Complainant
Complaint Analyst
Complaint Details
Create Complaint File
Complaint File
Complaint Manager
Complaint Analyst
Complaint File
Review Complaint File
Complaint Analyst
Complaint Analyst
Decision Template
Send Letter
Letter of Action

In the above example there are different ‘customers’ for different process steps:

complainant, complaint manager and complaint analyst. The overall process’ customer is the complainant. If you are tackling only a single step in the process, you may wish to identify the internal customer (the recipient of that step’s output).