Best Practices for creating a 5S Audit Checklist

7 Tips to ensure successful 5S Audits

Andy Pritchard  |   January 3 2022  |    5 min read

TABLE of contents
    5S Overview

    5S is a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words:

    seiri (整理) = sort
    seiton (整頓) = set in order
    seisō (清掃) = shine
    seiketsu (清潔) = standardize
    shitsuke (躾) = sustain
    5S is a framework that helps workers organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new organizational system.

    The decision-making process usually comes from discussions about standardization, a cornerstone of lean, which builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.

    The steps involve the worker going through everything in a space, deciding what's necessary and what isn't, putting things in order, cleaning, and setting up procedures for performing these tasks on a regular basis.

    5S Auditing Best Practices

    Schedule Audits

    Once the workstation is optimized, the best practice is to schedule audits to ensure the workstation continues to be kept in optimal conditions. Most of our customers audit each workstation at least once per month.

    The purpose of these audits is not to get staff in trouble - they are to provide feedback about the state of a workstation.

    Who conducts 5S audits?

    Usually a supervisor will assess each operators workstations, however, some customers use peer-to-peer evaluations with supervisor oversight to ensure they are auditing each other correctly.

    5S Audit Forms (Scorecards)

    5S Audit forms (or 5S Audit Sheets) are used to complete the 5S audits. 5S Audit Forms typically include a ranking system that provides feedback to operators and supervisors about the state of each “S” and suggestions as to how to correct any issues. Scores are usually from 1 to 3:
    1 = Not completed
    2 = Partially completed
    3 = Completed

    There are several free 5S Checklist Templates on the internet that you can use to move forward. Paper forms are a great place to start but there are inherent limitations to paper and excel processes that you may encounter.

    Also, there are many benefits to digitizing a 5S auditing process.

    One benefit of a digital 5S audit form is capturing photos to provide more information and context for your feedback. You can also use conditional logic to request additional information only if an S fails inspection.

    Digitized 5S processes also more accessible to staff who can use their own phone (BYOD) or use the tablet on the line.

    Comparing to Original Photo

    The original 5S process is completed when staff arrive at an optimal state for the workstation. The point of the audit is to rate the current state of each S as compared to the optimal state. As a result, photos of the optimal state can be very helpful.

    With a digital solution, you can simply add the photos to the form so they are available for reference each and every time.

    The 30-second rule

    The “30-second” rule is a simple exercise that allows managers to access and compare optimization between workstations. The idea is simple - simply measure how long it takes for an operator to find a tool. If they find the tool within 30 seconds then it is registered as a pass. If they do not, it is registered as a failure. This video provides a great quick overview of the process. This serves as a good KPI for the success of 5S across all workstations in your facility.

    Total 5S Audit Score

    To find the total 5S audit score, simply divide sum of the audit by 5, the number of “S” standards being evaluated. For example, if you scored each “S” a 3 (perfect score), the total score of the audit will be 3 ((3+3+3+3+3) / 5).

    5S Audit Reporting

    Good 5S Audit Reporting provides insights into performance broken down by workstation, staff members, lines, and the “5S” framework itself so that Continuous Improvement managers can retrain on specific items. Radar charts are invaluable to understand what is underperforming so that trainers can create programs and improve performance in certain areas.

    Download your guide to 5S success

    How-to instructions, best practices, and customer stories to help you set up and manage a highly effective and impactful 5S program.

    Continue Learning about 5S


    5S Auditing Best Practices


    5S Best Practices


    5S Overview – What is it?


    Simple 5S implementation action plan

    Ultimate Guide to Success with 5S

    How-to instructions, best practices, and customer stories to help you set up and manage a highly effective and impactful 5S program.

    How-to instructions, best practices, and customer stories to help you set up and manage a highly effective and impactful 5S program.

    5S Auditing

    • One site license - No user or setup fees starting at $199/month/site
    • Trusted solution - Over 2 million jobs completed worldwide.
    • Your success is our #1 Priority - We partner with you to ensure results.
    unilever customer logo

    Millions of jobs completed worldwide. View Testimonials