Lean Tools for process improvement


Lean 5S Checklist

and more 5S Tools
beyond your 5S Audit Checklist

Most Lean initiatives start out with a 5 S program to get things cleaned up and organized
as one of the first steps toward kaizen continuous improvement.

The Systems2win Lean Tools include several professionally developed
Excel templates for 5S Assessment, Red Tags, and Sustainment.

You can learn more about those templates right away,
or first... we can answer a few common questions about 5 S workplace organization...


What is 5S Lean?

aka 6S, 5S system, program, methodology, principles, process, standards, implementation, lean 5S...

5S Program

5S methodology to organize the workplace, reveal problems, and sustain improvements


The 5S process for workplace organization usually starts out by sorting the useful from the unnecessary. The only things that should remain in a work area are the parts, tools, and instructions needed to do the job.


Set in Order

Everything has a place; everything is in its place.

This is also a good time for your team to create a Visual Scoreboard,
Jidoka lights, floor paint, kanbans, and other visual controls described in our
free Lean & Kaizen PowerPoint presentation.


Sweep & Shine

Do an initial spring cleaning.
Maybe painting, scouring, sweeping, washing, rinsing, scrubbing, and whatever else
is needed to make your work place shine.

Use cleaning as a method of inspection. Cleanliness reveals problems.


In the Standardize phase of Lean 5 S, routine cleaning becomes a way of life.

Preventative maintenance is routinely performed, perhaps with planning and scheduling and some responsibilities done by your central maintenance department, and as much routine maintenance as possible performed by the people that know that work center better than anyone else.


Shitsuke is when five S becomes a routine way of life. Root causes are routinely identified and dealt with. The Systems2win 5 S forms and the Standard Work Audit are very familiar to everyone — both supervisors and the workers that have come to appreciate the benefits of Five S and Lean methods.

(the 6th S)

Some companies name their program 6S — to emphasize safety — but the truth
is that safety is inseparably intertwined with every one of the traditional 5 categories.
An uncluttered workplace is a safer workplace. A well maintained piece of equipment is
a safer piece of equipment. A clean workplace is a safer workplace. The Deep Horizon
oil spill would not have happened if the workers had followed their Standardized Work.

And some companies even have a 7th S — for Security (or something else).

Bookmark = why5S

5 S5S Lean Manufacturing5S housekeeping

Benefits of Lean 5S

When a lean newcomer first hears about the concept of 5S, a common reaction is to ask:

Who cares whether my workspace is clean and in order?

I've got far more important work to do.

Why don't you just leave me (and my "organized mess") alone?

If the only purpose of 5S was to attempt to convert everyone into anal-retentive military-style brass polishers,
then the practice would have died long ago.

So why is a lean 5S program still one of the most popular and successful ways to start (and continue) a lean program?

The reasons to keep your work area clean and in order are more subtle:

  1. An organized workplace reduces wasted time.

    Have you ever watched a video of someone doing their job, and they disappear from the screen for several minutes? Wandering around looking for some misplaced tool, material, or supply?

    More often, the worker still remains "in the picture", but you notice their work flow getting interrupted and slowed down as they search for some... misplaced... something... that they know they "just put down"... somewhere... nearby...

  2. A clean workplace reveals problems —

    and problems can't be resolved until they are revealed.

    In an unclean workplace, it is hard to notice things like

    animated - 5s

    Why are we doing 5S?

    "When did that machine start making that noise?" or
    "When did that start leaking oil?"

  3. Encouraging people to reveal problems is a huge culture change.

    In MBA school, they teach "Management By Objective",
    which is misinterpreted to mean:
    "I really don't want to hear about your problems.
    All we care about up here in the ivory tower are results."

    A Lean Management System focuses on both:

    1. Results, and...
    2. The processes that produce results

    The first few times that a lean newcomer takes the career-risking chance to shine a bright light on some problems within his or her work area will prove to be the acid test of whether or not a lean program will have any chance of working in that organization.

    If management crucifies the messenger for daring to reveal a vulnerability,
    then the experiment is over. Management will be correct when they say
    "We tried Lean, and it doesn't work here."

    If the employee is rewarded for disclosing a problem, and the problem is systematically eliminated, then the foundation has been laid, and the first steps of your lean journey can begin.

How to get started with your 5S Program

Training is always the first step. And because 5S is often the first introduction to the entire concept of Lean continuous improvement — patient attention should be given to ensure that people's fears, misconceptions, and questions are fully answered. Most importantly, management must convincingly lay to rest the fear of "improving ourselves out of a job."

After initial 5S training, every lean leader has their own favorite way of implementing an initial workspace clean up.

The essential thing is to have the workers evaluate every tool and machine, every pile of materials and supplies,
every piece of instructional paper... to decide what is actually used, and how often.

  • This can be done by marking any suspect item with a red tag,
    and then moving it out of the area into a temporary holding area (just in case it really is needed)...
  • It can be accomplished by holding a mock auction —
    where the workers "bid" to plea their case for why an item should be kept.

The end result is to Sort the useful from the clutter.

Depending on the volume and complexity of the initial clutter — Sort can be its own phase, or you might have time to move right into an initial round of Straighten and Shine.

Be sure to take before and after photos —
and distribute your highly visual success story far and wide to begin generating enthusiasm for your Lean program.

How to Sustain your 5S System

Most Lean initiatives start out with 5S training as one of the earliest initiatives, and there is a flurry of enthusiastic cleaning and organizing. The real test, however, is how well the new ways "stick" over time. The success of your 5s program is often an excellent predictor of the probable success of your greater lean manufacturing initiative.

Once you have "picked the low-hanging fruit" of the first 3 phases of 5S,
you will soon be challenged with the tough ones...

The 4th and 5th S's are by far the most important... Standardize and Sustain

Your success or failure with Standard Work will determine the success or failure of your entire lean program.

The 5S templates featured on this page (below)
are really just the beginning.

There's no sense in even beginning a new flavor-of-the-month initiative
if your top management is not sincerely committed to seeing this through for long-term cultural transformation.

And to do THAT...
you're going to need to look ahead at the 2 tough S's...

4) Standardize

You're going to need a wide variety of diverse templates, training, and systems
to empower your people with the right tools and methods
to improve a wide variety of diverse types of processes

That's what Systems2win offers...
standardized systems and tools that you use to standardize your systems for standardization

Learn more about Systems2win tools, training, and systems for standard work

5) Sustain

5S isn't (successfully) implemented in isolation.

The Shingo Prize teachings make it clear...
The typical Lean Journey usually starts with using one lean tool to solve one isolated problem
(5S is a common starting point)
and then (IF that initial small project is successful)...
the usual, expected, and desired path is to become exposed to (and competent with)
many other lean tools and methods...
eventually evolving into integrated synergistic lean systems

That's what Systems2win offers...
templates, self-paced training, and systems
for sustained continuous improvement

And with that introduction...
let's (finally) introduce the Systems2win Word and Excel templates for 5S process improvement...

Bookmark = checklist

5S Check List
for Lean Manufacturing and Lean Office

5S Checklist

also known as 5S Assessment Checklist, 5S Audit Checklist,
or 6S Check List to emphasize Safety

Purpose: To measure and improve 5s workplace organization, instill 5s philosophy, and evaluate success of your 5s implementation

3 tools in1:

  1. Serves as a 5S Audit Checklist
    carried on a clipboard as a supervisor physically inspects the gemba where the work is performed — as prescribed in their Leader Standard Work
  2. Print Trend Charts
    to monitor and manage improvement over time
  3. Print 5S Housekeeping Scorecard
    to publish a radar chart and thermometer chart for any selected audit period

Publish the Trend Charts and Radar Scorecard on your Team Accountability Board to motivate your team members to continuously improve their 5S workplace organization.

The radar chart and thermometer charts easily scale between 5, 6,or even 7S categories.

5S Checklist Trend Charts


5S Checklist radar chart

See online training
for how to use your
5S Assessment template

Unique features

Lean Assessment Excel template

5S Standard template

To clarify expectations for 5S workplace organization and housekeeping,
and/or to serve as a "before and after" storyboard.

Refer to this document from the Assessment Checklist —
so that many diverse work areas can share the same
(more generally worded) assessment criteria —
by referring to the (more detailed) 5S Standards unique to each work area.

5S Standard Excel template


Personalize your 5S Audit Checklist

Your Systems2win templates come with many features that make it REALLY easy to make your templates your own:

Why reinvent?
When it's this easy to use Systems2win templates as your starting point
knowing that you can use everything you know about Excel to "take it from there"


5S Red Tags and Red Tag Log

Red Tags and Red Tag Log

Purpose: To provide a systematic approach to your Sort activities.

Every employee should be trained to attach a Red Tag to any item that they suspect might be unnecessary within their work area
(when in doubt — tag it)

AT ANY TIME... (this is not a one-time project)...
a supply of Red Tags should always be available in a known,
easily-accessed location.

Before disposition is carried out... the Team Leader approves the suggested Action, and an entry is made into the Red Tag Log for that Work Area.

If there is ANY doubt, the item is moved into the temporary Red Tag Storage area, where it can be easily retrieved if the item proves necessary after all. When items are moved from Red Tag Storage, the Red Tag Log is updated to record the ultimate disposition.

5S Red Tag Log
Red Tags and 5S Red Tag Log

Sample 5S Example


Sustainment Checklist

5S Sustainment Checklist

Preventative maintenance checklist for tasks that occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly cycle.

5S Sustain

Preventive Maintenance Checklist

Preventative maintenance checklist for tasks that occur on a monthly cycle
or greater.

Preventive Maintenance Checklist template
Preventive Maintenance Checklist

Successful Lean companies know that when top management stops paying attention, everyone else soon follows —
so your Sytems2win templates include a variety of audit checklists as important components of any well-designed lean management system.


5S Training & demo videos

5S Video & Training

Additional training
relevant to these templates

The Sample and Help worksheets of every template
always contain training relevant to THAT template

Language Translations

Translations available for immediate delivery include:

  • Spanish: Evaluación 5S
  • Portuguese: Avaliação 5S
  • French: Évaluation des 5S
  • Chinese: 5S 评估



Video Help

Video: 5S and
Lean Assessment templates


Video: Selecting the right
Standard Work tools


Video: How to switch between languages


  Benefits of Professional Tools
 Ready to use

Your leaders can be immediately productive
rather than wasting time re-inventing tools

 Professional looking charts, red tags, and reports

Every employee and visitor will see your 5S charts posted on your public bulletin boards
What image message do you want to send?

 Far more professional than home grown templates or free downloads

Have you ever wished that you had never heard the expression
"you get what you pay for"

 Professionally programmed formulas, charts, and buttons

Free downloads often look good at first glance, until you need to debug them.
Our programmer is a 20-year Microsoft Most Valuable Partner. Who's doing your in-house programming?

 Professional testing and debugging

Free downloads often look good at first glance, until you need to debug them
When you find a bug, who are you going to call?

 Professional technical support

Even if your IT Department is capable of supporting a home-grown tool,
is that what you want them doing?

 Professionally written help and on-line training

Pop-up help, leaning exercises, lean glossary, training web pages, training videos
You know... all of that "ease of use stuff"that your in-house person says he could do if he had time

 Easily personalized — "it's Excel"

Even if you are an expert Excel programmer... why start with a blank workbook
when you could start with an already excellent tool that is easily personalized?

 Easily personalized — "it's Systems2win"

Easily change rating scales, dropdown lists, rating criteria, 5S or 6S
Easily define different rating criteria for Office 5S vs. Production 5S, new vs. seasoned teams

  Professionals use professional tools

Have you ever noticed the difference between the tools used by a journeyman vs. a handyman?
Your deliverables are a measure of your professionalism. It's your career. They're your deliverables.



Bookmark = Office5S

Office 5S

Five or Six S housekeeping is the most common starting point for most successful Lean process improvement initiatives.

The exception is sometimes Lean Office — because many office workers pride themselves on being organized (even if maybe they aren't), and you want your first lean initiative to be a resounding impressive success. Because office workers are thinkers and organizers by nature — it is often better to start your lean initiative by encouraging the worker(s) to come up with their own A3 improvement project — and then coach them through it.

5S for Lean Office is still, however, an essential component of an overall Lean program — that should be introduced when the office workers are ready for it. Filing cabinets and computer hard drives often contain plenty of opportunity for 6s housekeeping.

Bookmark = Reading

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