Business Process Management Glossary

What is 5S Methodology?

5S is a workplace organisation method that comes from the Toyota Production System.

5S methodology is a systematic approach to workplace organization and standardization. The term “5S” stands for five Japanese words: Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in Order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). Originating from Japanese manufacturing practices, particularly the Toyota Production System, the 5S methodology aims to improve efficiency, safety, and overall productivity in the workplace. Even though 5S has originated within manufacturing this process improvement tool is still highly relevant for organising the knowledge worker’s workplace and the systems and tools they use.

What are the stages of 5s?

5S represents the five stages that unite to form the methodology:

1. Sort

The first stage involves removing waste and eliminating obstacles to keep the team focused on the task at hand. A common method of aiding this process is defining a ‘red-tag area.’ This area is used to place items that are not currently needed but also should not or cannot be disposed of.

Example red tag area for process improvement methodology, 5S.
Example red tag area

2. Set in order

The second phase is based on organising all remaining tools and materials. Ensuring every that there is a place for everything, and everything has its place. It is also the time to arrange items in a manner so that everything is both easy to find and access. With this in mind, it is best to have the most frequently used components and/or equipment in the closest proximity to the workplace.

3. Shine

The third phase primarily aims to keep your workplace clean and safe. However, it is also important to make the workplace as pleasing and comfortable as possible. This phase is the perfect time to inspect equipment for damage or deterioration.

4. Standardise

The purpose of the fourth phase is to establish this new methodology across the facility as standard within the business. To accomplish this, schedules and procedures will be documented as part of employees responsibilities and daily routines.

5. Sustain

The aim of the final phase is to ensure these new schedules and responsibilities are maintained. This means training new staff and performing regular audits to maintain standards. However, it is also important that the organisation still looks for avenues of improvement.

Further resources on 5S methodology:

Explore more about different process improvement terms in our BPM Glossary.