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 fact 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 a 5S Program

When a lean newcomer first hears about the concept of 5S workplace organization,
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 Lean 5S was to attempt to convert everyone into military-style brass polishers,
then the practice would have died long ago.

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?

Or maybe 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

"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:

animated - 5s

Why are we doing 5S?

"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
using some form of the PDCA scientific method,
then the foundation has been laid, and the first steps of your lean journey can begin.


5S Training & videos

5S Video & Training

Additional training
relevant to these 5S Tools

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
  • German: 5S-Beurteilung
  • Chinese: 5S 评估



Video: 5S and
Lean Assessment templates


Video: Selecting the right
Standard Work tools


Video: How to switch between languages

5S Tools

The Systems2win bundle of Lean Tools empowers you (and your teams) with several 5S tools that will make it much easier to implement several of the most difficult challenges of any Lean 5S Program.

5S Check List
for Lean Manufacturing and Lean Office

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

5S Checklist Trend Charts

5S Checklist radar chart

Purpose of the 5S Checklist

Use your 5S Assessment template (5S.xlsx)
To measure and improve 5s workplace organization,
instill 5s philosophy, and evaluate success of your 5s implementation

3 tools in 1

  1. 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. Trend Charts

    to monitor and manage improvement over time

  3. Accountability Scorecard

Easily publish a radar chart and thermometer chart for any selected audit period

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

Training for how to use your 5S Checklist template

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

Personalize your 5S Audit Checklist

Personal art

Your personalizations
get found and transferred
each time you upgrade

Why reinvent?

5S Scorecard template

5S Scorecard Word template

Use your 5S Scorecard template (5S.docx)
if you prefer to use a very simple Word template.

(Most users appreciate the far more advanced features of the Excel template)

5S Standard template


5S Standard Excel template

Use your 5S Standard template (5SStandard.xlsx)
to clarify expectations for 5S workplace organization and housekeeping,
and/or to serve as a "before and after" storyboard.


  1. Personalize your working document

    by selecting your desired section headers and team roles from the drop down lists

    For example, this might be a "before and after" storyboard.
    Or it might depict the standards for what the work area should look like
    during working hours and after final cleanup has been completed at the end of each work day.

  2. Edit

    inserting pictures, and writing written descriptions

  3. Print and post

    in a highly visible place in or near the Work Area

Tip: Refer to your Standards documents from your 5S 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 Red Tags and Red Tag Log

Purpose of 5S Red Tags

Use your 5S Red Tags template (5SRedTag.xlsx)
to provide a systematic approach to your Sort activities.

Every employee should be trained

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

Ideally train your employees using the TWI Job Instruction method,
so that they really "get it", and don't just say, "yeah, yeah".

5S Red Tag Log

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.

(pre-printed, pre-cut, with one stack intended to be taped to the item, and other stack with a wire attached through a punch hole with a reinforcing grommet that can be purchased from any office supply store)

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 Sustainment Checklist

Preventive Maintenance Checklist template

5S template

Your Systems2win templates come with two Preventive Maintenance Checklists.

Preventive Maintenance Checklist

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

Usually performed by a central Maintenance Department.

5S Sustainment Checklist

Preventative maintenance checklist for tasks that occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly cycle — usually performed by the process operator.

See the online training for how to use your Preventive Maintenance templates

More Lean Management Tools


Every lean tool needs
a corresponding
Lean Coaching System

Your 5S tools are just one component

of a successful lean management system.

Successful Lean companies know...

when top management stops paying attention, everyone else soon follows.


When you purchase any bundle of Systems2win templates,

you also get a variety of lean management audit checklists
that are important components of any
well-designed lean management system.




Benefits — 5S Tools

 Ready to use

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

 Professional 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?

 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...
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, drop down lists, rating criteria, 5S or 6S...
And YOUR personalized 5S rating criteria are automatically found and transferred every time you upgrade.

  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.

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.

Job Security Promise

Most importantly, management must convincingly lay to rest
the fear of "improving ourselves out of a job."

See online training for your Job Security Promise template (JobAssurance.docx)

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.

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

Depending on the volume and complexity of the initial clutter,

5S Standard template

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 use your 5S Standard template (5SStandard.xlsx)
to show off those photos in a compelling storyboard format

and then distribute and socialize your highly visual success story
far and wide to begin generating enthusiasm for your Lean program.

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.

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 tougher 4th and 5th phases...

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 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 toughest phases of any 5S program:


What's so wrong with backsliding into old habits?

4) Standardize

What's the point in changing anything
if people just backslide into old habits?

Learn more about tools 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

Bookmark = Reading

Suggested Reading and Resources for your

5S Program, Tools, and Systems

One way to support the free training provided on this site is to purchase your books here



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Also see toolshero 5S Training





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