5S is a brilliant method to improve the organization, safety and efficiency of your workplace. If you are new to 5S, it is a five(!) step system comprising of the following steps:

  1. Sort – clear out the clutter.
  2. Set in order – optimize the layout for maximum efficiency.
  3. Shine – clean the area, as if it were ready for a customer visit.
  4. Standardize – set the standards and bring in routines etc…
  5. Sustain – keep the new and improved workspace in the condition it should be.

Many organizations go through the 5S improvement process ineffectively. They go through the first few steps and then realize that they have to start again. Why is this?

They don’t clarify the standards

The fourth step is about crystallizing the standards in your workplace. If you do this upfront (i.e. have some idea of how you want the area to look before starting the first few steps), it becomes easier to arrive where you want to be. They say you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Giving your team some guidelines of what a good destination looks like really helps.

Once you have reached this point, document the standard. Photos work great. Visual standard documents that point out key points work even better.

This is when the inspection and auditing tools that can make up part of the fifth step (sustain) come into action. This is why we have built this approach into PDCA Complete.

What are you looking for?

You need to be able to define what you are looking for when it comes to inspecting a work area. You need to be able to consistently decide what a high score looks like.

To make this easier for PDCA Complete users, we have an editable scoring set. For each of the five steps we can specify a standard and corresponding score.

5S score setup in PDCA Complete

This means that you can tailor the 5S audits in your PDCA Complete account to reflect how you want to score your workspace. When you standardize the scoring also, it makes it easier for more people to take part in the sustain activities and be consistent with your ratings.

Audit what you want to see

Getting the most out of 5S involves holding yourself to a high standard. I’ve seen some inspections take place where the person scoring the area has shrugged their shoulders because they aren’t sure ‘what good looks like’ and then assigned a random score…

When you specify what a ‘5/5’ score looks like, what people should be able to see and experience, this becomes a whole lot easier.

An example of a 5S audit within PDCA Complete

Take action

But, what if the area doesn’t come up to scratch?

This is where you need to assign some tasks.

What do you want people to do, to resolve the gap between where you are and where you want to be?

When do you want the task completed for?

Do you want anyone to sign off the task when it has been marked complete?

This is the essence of how the 5S audit tool works in PDCA Complete. You set the 5S standards, audit the area, assign tasks when there is a gap. The various ways to monitor and manage tasks in PDCA Complete allows for the follow up to be quick and easy to manage.

You can see how our My Tasks ‘nerve center’ can help with this:

Free PDCA Complete account

To take advantage of 5S auditing, and all the other tools we have in the system, you can claim your free account today.

You and two colleagues could be using PDCA Complete in just a matter of minutes from now.

When you need to expand past a team of three, you can upgrade your account and take full advantage of this approach to managing projects, meetings and continuous improvement tasks.

In the meantime, set those 5S standards and set your team up to win!

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer that spends his working life helping businesses to become more organized, more efficient and get back in control.