Process Optimization in Project Management (2): The 5S-Framework

Kathrin Jungwirth, Tuesday 02 April 2019 | Reading time: unknown

Build the basis for further optimization with the 5S: Quick success and low costs quickly motivate the project team. Learn more about this method, which is a great start into process optimization for smaller companies.

Kaizen with the 5S Method

In the last blog post we already discussed the Kaizen management concept. Numerous practical methods have been developed to integrate this approach into everyday working life. One of these tools is the 5S method, with which you can optimize your working environment in only five steps. The 5S enable you to create a good basis for Kaizen. This methodology is also used in Japanese Lean Management. Originally developed at Toyota's production sites, the 5S method is now also used in service and software companies.  

Advantages of this Methodology

With the help of the 5S, chaos and inefficiency can be discovered and eliminated more quickly throughout the company. Most of all this methodology provides an initial introduction to process optimization for smaller companies. The advantages of this approach? Fast success and low costs lead to a real motivation boost for employees even at the short term. If you introduce this method sustainably in the company and if you use it continuously, you will also observe a change in the work attitude of all departments. 

Continuous Improvement with the 5S Method

In every company there are workplaces bursting with clutter. Chaos very quickly leads to search or waiting times and thus to increased costs. Also, in the light of employee motivation and customer satisfaction, disorder is not exactly conducive. Use the 5S method to ensure cleanliness, orderliness and efficiency at the workplace. In this way you work more effectively and create a good basis for further optimization processes. 

Optimize your work environment in just five steps:

1. Seiri - Sort

Let's start with an inventory. Take some time and take a close look at your workplace. How are the objects arranged? Do you have everything important within reach? Do you find all documents or tools immediately? Then go one step further and sort your materials: unneeded items should be thrown away as soon as possible. 

2. Seiton - Straighten

Now think about how you could design your workplace and your equipment in a useful way. Arrange everything so that outsiders would find their way around immediately. Work with labels and mark folders or storage boxes, for example. Frequently required documents can be arranged closer to the workplace than less frequently required items. Also pay attention to ergonomic principles! 

3. Seiso - Shine

Cleanliness is essential to feel comfortable at work. Even if a cleaning service regularly ensures a certain amount of basic cleanliness at your office, you may still clean your personal belongings from time to time. Deposit the cleaning equipment you need directly at work. For shared areas such as the kitchen or the lounge, it is best to create cleaning plans. For example, each week a different team would be responsible for the kitchen and another team for the lounge. 

4. Seiketsu - Standardize

Now develop a comprehensible and understandable description of all work processes at your workplace (especially in production). In any case, you should record your approach in the previous phases Seiri, Seiton and Seiso. In that way these basics can also be transferred to other workplaces where the same or similar activities are carried out. If necessary, you can visualize certain processes for better understanding. To ensure that the framework is also used in the long term, use the "five-minute rule". Each employee should take five minutes a day to maintain order at his or her workplace. 

5. Shitsuke - Sustain

Without self-discipline and regular use of the 5S, the old chaos will return to most workplaces within a short period of time. Motivate your colleagues and talk about your own ideas and progress. You can also organize a competition for the most effectively designed workplace. Also make sure that new employees are consistently trained in the method and that results are actively demanded by the project leader. As in many other areas, continuity is crucial here. However, do not be afraid to adjust in case of changing circumstances.


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