Applying 5S on your enterprise folders

Wednesday - 13/11/2019 19:33
Have you ever open a drawer to find something and it was so messy that you lost several minutes to find it? Well, data in your enterprise may look like the messy drawer.
Applying 5S on your enterprise folders
Applying 5S on your enterprise folders
Often, employees have hard times finding the good informations, especially files. It may sound futile, but there may be lots of wasted hours each week in searching informations in your enterprise. And if only few employee know where to find informations, you put your business at risk.

The usual human being put files in folders with no strict organisation. Folder are flexible and open to chaos. And if you try of put restriction on folders, peoples will find more convenience ways to store their files.

We don’t put size limits because Hard Disk space cost virtually nothing. If we run out of space, we can just buy news disks. But this cause unwanted behavior : keeping waste.

Digital waste mainly consist of obsolete data and duplicate information. Waste can give you the wrong information and have disastrous consequences on your decisions and on your business. Digital is new in human evolution, so we don’t have the reflex to keep it cleansed.

Organisation need to promote good practices, not only with physical environments, but with digital informations. There already exist concept in business to keep work space efficient and these have proven their values, for instance : 5S.

Thus 5S is usually implemented to physical space, it can be applied on your « un-structured » informations too. But to do that, you’ll need collaboration of every employee. Usually, achieving 5S affect a small or medium group of peoples. But applying 5S will involve almost every employees of the organisation.

Here’s how you can apply 5S in the business folders.

Remove unnecessary

In 5S, the first step is to remove unnecessary items. It’s more easy to think about that with physical environment, but in the digital world, you may have to remove millions of files.

What you’ll have to do is to delete everything. But wait, don’t delete it completely; Do a copy first. Maybe two, since hard disk cost almost nothing. In my opinion, it’s a more efficient way to benefit from a low costing space.

The advantage of digital 5S compared to regular 5S, is that it has no operation costs to dispose unnecessary informations. You don’t have to dispose it physically, you will just have to archive it on a backup drive.

Than put everything on an « Archived Network Drive ». Ensure that people can access it but can no longer write in that drive.


After eliminated the waste, create hierarchy of folders to find informations fast and easily. Here 3 steps to do that :

    Look at what documents your company are working on. You need to have a deep understanding of the current situation.

    Do an assessment with each sector of activity. Look at the frequencies of accessed folders. Can files be placed closed to each others based on usage ?

    Make an hierarchy of folders based on our understanding. Ensure a folder for everyone/every situation. Files accessed more frequently should be placed in folders at the root directory.

    Think how thing should be stored. Create a standard of naming files and folders. Be sure that folders name mean something for everyone, event for a new employee.

At this point, you can designate some power users to take only used or important files back to the drive, at their new correct location.


The third step of 5S is Shine. It mean the work space should be cleaned at all time. Since you just created you new hierarchy, you new structure should be cleaned. But you want to keep it clean if you don’t want to go back to disorder.

Promote a 5 minutes cleaning program among employees. For instance, before leaving each day, employee should take 5 minutes to review the files they worked with and remove unnecessary ones.

Do yourself a random inspection. If you find messy folder, don’t just clean it, but find the source of the mess (ie. a new employee who is not aware of the policy). Doing that on a regular basis should reduce to need to clean.

You can also create a some temporary folders emptied every night. If an employee want to exchange files, they can use this folder instead of putting a copy in a random location.


One aspect of standardisation is making visual tips to see what is missing. You can, for instance, Start folder names with ordered numbers. If someone delete a folder by distraction, it will be noticed more rapidly.

Also, make sure each files or subfolders names follow a standard. Put instruction files in each directory explaining what should be in this folder. Explain too how they should be named.


This step is may be the more difficult to achieve. Once the others has been done correctly, the entreprise need to ensure that the situation stay still.

If applied correctly, you should never seen again waste among your files.

You can assign owners to segments of the the hierarchy, and they’ll be accountable for maintaining folders in good conditions. They’ll be responsible if someone doesn’t find the information seeked.

Ensure a regularly sensibilisation. Make 5S part of the enterprise culture.


In conclusion, 5S can be applied on your enterprise files and can be a success. It may be a pain at first, but will be a long term benefit for your business.
 Key: Success

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