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Implementing 5S Methodology For Your Project

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 7/17/2013

Ready to put the 5S Methodology to work on your next project? If so, to ensure success, how can you document 5S projects? What tools should be used to sustain, evaluate, and audit your 5S project? Jean Scheid offers some tips on 5S tools.

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    What Is It?

    Carte 5S Wikimedia Commons According to Dr. Chao-Hsien Chu at Pennsylvania State University, who has created the 5S Home Page, the 5S Methodology is best explained as a housekeeping type of process that eliminates waste through 5 elements based on 5 Japanese words:

    • Seiri (Sort)
    • Seiton (Set in Order)
    • Seison (Shine)
    • Seiketsu (Standardize)
    • Shitsuke (Sustain)

    You can access Dr. Chu's home page here. Through the use of these housekeeping processes, projects are successful because project tools are sorted and set in order and readily available when needed, the workspace is kept clean on a continual basis, especially as soon as tasks are complete, and everyone on the 5S team follows the outlined rules set by the 5S manager.

    Well, this simplistic idea has worked for Toyota Motor Company for years; what about using the methodology on non-assembly line projects, and what are the best ways on how to document 5S projects?

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    Is Documentation Necessary?

    Kasi Subramanian Sridhar, a 5S trainer in Nadu, India, offered tips on documenting and auditing 5S projects on Many 5s-ers posted topics on how to document and audit a 5S project, and his advice was very interesting.

    According to Sridhar, some project managers should first look at implementing 5S in stages. For example, teams would be trained in Sort, before moving on to Set in Order and so on. The principle here is before you can document and sustain your 5S project, the entire organization and teams have to understand the processes fully.

    Yet somehow, even if your team understands the 5S Methodology, you have to be able to evaluate it, analyze it, and audit it, so what tools should you use?

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    The Tools You Need

    In 5S, there are many forms and tools that are used, including red-tags, labeling, color-coding for ease of use in inventory, bins, must-do signs, and safety warnings. For projects, however, these tools must be converted into tools that will work for the entire team. Here are some good examples of the tools you should implement in your 5S projects:

    • Change Control – Initially, you’ll need a good change control plan and learn how to deal with change resistance, especially when switching to a methodology this rigid.
    • Meetings – Because every team member in 5S is allowed to offer suggestions, it’s essential that you hold regular meetings and identify areas that need to be improved upon.
    • Kaizen Tools – They are great for evaluating your 5S project and include PDCA or Plan, Do, Check, and Act. With the PDCA method, you can quickly identify areas that need improvement and then immediately act upon them.
    • Audits – 5S audits are also needed at regular intervals. You can access this example of a 5S audit and download it right now.
    • Step Processes – Each one of the 5S processes should be written and detailed and made available to all team members working on the project.
    • System & Space Evaluation – Before implementing 5S into your projects, you need to evaluate your systems and workspace environments. Are the systems you utilize in order? Are workspace areas in places where collaborative teams have access to one another? Do you have a centralized place where team members can obtain various tools without delays?
    • Checklists – 5S checklists are also essential; again, you can read about a 5S Check Sheet (which has a link to another downloadable chart) along with this great 5S Implementation Plan.
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    Will 5S Work for You?

    5S Wikimedia Commons With project managers looking for lean ways to manage projects, you can convert this methodology and utilize it in your projects. The toughest part of 5S is getting the entire organization or team to accept it and run with it.

    The 5S for the Office User’s Guide is available from Amazon and includes tips, worksheets, and forms on how to implement 5S in almost any department or environment as well as how to document 5S projects.

    You can learn more about how 5S can work for you by reading 5S Best Practices and History of 5S: An Overview of the 5S Methodology right here on Bright Hub PM.