The 5S Process and Project Management - Implementation and Management of the 5S Process

The 5S Process and Project Management - Implementation and Management of the 5S Process
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What is the 5S Process?

The 5S process is based on five simple Japanese action words:

  • Seiri (means Sorting in English): Sort out the necessary tools, materials and discard the unnecessary items.

  • **Seiton (**means Set in order in English): It actually means keeping the items in such a fashion that the least human effort is required (i.e. ergonomic) to find it in the desired moment.

  • **Seiso (**means Cleanliness in English): Keeping the work place and the work items clean should be the daily practice rather than an occasional event.

  • **Shiketsu (**means Standardizing in English): Everybody should be well aware of his/her roles for maintaining the above 3S of the 5S process. The responsibility should be well defined and standard.

  • Shitsuke (means Discipline in English): After implementing the previous 4S, have the discipline to keep on this path and not gradually revert to old methods.

The 5S is much more than a workplace organizing method. If applied properly for managing any project, it removes unnecessary steps and brings changes to the workers’ attitudes. So adapting the 5S process for managing a project means reducing project delay and increasing workplace safety.

Implementing the 5S process can be very cheap for some cases, but implementing it in large scale organization level requires capital investment. For managing and implementing the 5S process successfully, the following three things are a must.

1. Commitment

As a manager, you and the rest of the management team should be committed towards implementing all five steps of the 5S process. You should also get the required resources for implementing all the five S’s and ensure the discipline of your team to sustain the implemented change.

2. Support From the Top

Implementing the 5S process is not only about changing the working attitude of your subordinates but also about the changing the mindset of the top management. For implementing the 5S process in all organizational levels, you require investments, time, and resources. For all of this, you need to have the confidence of senior management.

3. Measure the Change

You need to constantly monitor and measure your team’s performance for two reasons: By measuring performance you can be sure that the working habits of your team are not really drifting back to their old practices, and you can use statistics documenting your team’s improvement to gain the confidence of senior management for implementing the 5S process on a larger scale.


The 5S process is a Japanese method useful for achieving a neater, cleaner work environment which, in turn, improves productivity. Successful implementation of the 5S process is a combination of a physical environment change and working attitude changes. Hence, it requires a whole-hearted commitment and strong support from the top.