As Small Business owners, you don’t always have the budget to improve your business using outside resources. While your investment in your business should be a high priority, the reality is that sometimes it just isn’t possible.

BUT WAIT, there is a way. A simple process named “5 S” helps you manage your business while engaging your entire workforce in making your business, and their place in it, better.

It is not just about housekeeping, but concentrating on maintaining the standards & discipline to manage the organization – all achieved by upholding & showing respect for the workplace every day. It consists of 5 simple steps, each step beginning with the letter “S”.

The 5 Steps are as follows:

  1. Sort: Remove all items from the workplace that are not needed for current production.
  2. Set in order: Arrange needed items so that they are easy to find and put away. Items used often are placed closer to the employee.
  3. Shine: Make sure everything is clean, functioning and ready to go.
  4. Standardize: This is the method you use to maintain the first three S’s.
  5. Sustain: Make a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures.

Benefits of 5S to the workplace and organization

The benefit of 5S to the workplace and organization is that it develops a firm foundation that the organization can use for continuous improvement. This can become the first step in constantly improving your workflows which in turn will reduce your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), making you more profitable. This is done through fewer product or service defects, less waste, fewer delays, fewer injuries and fewer equipment or process breakdowns. These advantages translate to lower cost and higher quality.

When applying 5S to your employees it develops a significantly better working environment. It has the benefit of providing more time for your employees to develop input about how the workplace should be organized and laid out and how standard work should be done. Employees will be able to find things easily, every time and not waste time and effort wandering around looking for things. The workplace will be cleaner and safer. Jobs will be simpler and more satisfying with most obstacles and frustrations eliminated.

Giving some detail and specifics to each of the steps in 5S we see that:

The first “S” (Sort) requires you to determine what is needed and what is not. Then, it requires you to get rid of what is not needed. After determining what is really needed, update all documentation to reflect that. Some examples are:

  • Remove unnecessary items and dispose of them properly.
  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles.
  • Prevent accumulation of unnecessary items.
  • Evaluate necessary items with regard to cost or other factors.
  • Remove all parts or tools that are not in use.
  • Segregate unwanted material from the workplace.
  • Waste removal.

The second “S” (Set in Order) requires you to organize things so that they are easy to use, and label them so that anyone can find, use and return them where they belong. Examples are:

  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use.
  • Prevent loss and waste of time by arranging workstations in such a way that all tooling/equipment is in close.
  • Make workflow smooth and easy.
  • Maintain safety.
  • The third “S” (Shine) means putting the workspace in order. It requires daily cleanup and regular inspection.
  • Clean your workplace completely.
  • Prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.
  • Keep workplace clean, safe and easy to work.

The fourth “S” (Standardize) is how you sustain the first three S’s. The methods need to be standardized and required company-wide while becoming a part of your work culture.

  • Standardize the best practices in the work area.
  • Maintain high standards in workplace organization.
  • Maintain orderliness. Maintain everything in order and according to its standard.
  • Everything in its right place.
  • Every process has a standard.

The fifth “S” (Sustain) is how your business sustain’s its 5-S program. This requires:

  • Not harmful to anyone.
  • Also translates as “do without being told”.
  • Perform regular audits.
  • Training and discipline.
  • Training is a goal-oriented process. Its resulting feedback is necessary monthly.
  • Self-discipline.

This final “S” is where many companies regress back to the way things were done before. The business has viewed “5S” as a single event or activity instead of long-term culture change. You must ensure that all of the “5S” steps are regularly performed, supervised and where appropriate, measured.

5S doesn’t concern itself with any specific industry or workplace. It applies to all and when used boosts performance, productivity, and profitability. It does take time to implement and takes effort too. The return on investment from it will save time and effort.  This ultimately creates sustainable growth and profitability for your business.

Want to know more? Ask me, I’m here to help.