If you are looking to improve efficiency in your small business, the 5S scoring system may be the tool you need. The simple evaluation system and chart-based scorecard can easily be adapted to fit a variety of manufacturing or office environments. Both large companies and small businesses will find the components on a 5S scorecard to be helpful for evaluating and improving work spaces and routines.

The Origins and Purpose of 5S  

Originally developed in Japan, 5S is a tool of lean manufacturing, a business model that focuses on converting raw materials into cash for the company and value for a business's customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It is designed to evaluate and overhaul the manufacturing facilities, offices and processes of a company so that every minute of the work day is productive and is contributing to the company's goals. 5S stands for sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain.

The 5S Formula Briefly Explained

Any given 5S scorecard will have the same five basic areas for evaluation. However, the 5S audit checklist for an office will look a bit different than one for a manufacturing plant or a shipping warehouse. Therefore, while the basic categories can be utilized in every environment, the specific items within each category will differ depending on the application. The five basic categories defined are:

  1. Sort: Sorting requires all items to be separated according to which ones are needed for use in that work space. Unnecessary items are thrown out or removed. The goal is to remove clutter everywhere, including closets, workbenches, file and desk drawers, bookshelves and computer files.

  2. Straighten or set in order: This component focuses on organization of usable items. Every item or tool in the workplace should have a place to be stored, whether in a labeled bin, specific shelf or space on a wall.
  3. Shine: This component keeps sorted and straightened spaces neat and clean. Surfaces are kept tidy and dust free and are maintained daily with a commitment from the team to comply to the standard.

  4. Standardize: Consistency is maintained only when systems have been established to maintain the organization of the workplace. Employees and managers support the 5S system and can explain it to others and train new workers.

  5. Sustain: This component deals with assigned areas of responsibility so that the established processes are maintained. Procedures are regularly evaluated, improved, updated and revised. 

Develop a Customized Scorecard

To develop a scorecard for your business, use a 5S implementation plan template in Excel or Word and customize each of the categories so that the specific areas of evaluation apply to your situation. Each of the five categories may have several items for evaluation and scoring.

Also, decide on a range of scores that reflect varying measures of success within each area, usually from zero to five. For example, a score of zero would mean that a storage cabinet was completely stuffed and disorganized, while a score of five would reflect a unit with individual items neatly placed in bins and on labeled shelves.

Evaluating Your Workplace and Routines

As you go through each area of your facility, record a score for each of the audit items on the score sheet. It may be helpful to express the numeric score in words as well. For example, does the audit reveal that an area shows absolutely no compliance with the standard (0), or does it fall in the range of poor (1), below average (2), above average (3), excellent (4) or perfect (5)?

Totaling Your 5S Score

When the audit is complete, tally the scores within each category. Divide the total by the number of standards being evaluated to receive the total score for that section.

For example, if the sorting category achieved a total of 17 points and there were five questions in the section, the average score would be 3.4. This would mean that overall, employees have done an above average job in that area, but improvement is needed. Similarly, add up all the scores on the card and divide by the total number of questions to receive the overall score for your company.