As the next generation is being inspired for greatness, we celebrate the importance of manufacturing to the community and the economy of our great nation. National Manufacturing Day is a U.S. salute to modern manufacturing.
Did you know that one of the best approaches to organizing the work space for efficiency and effectiveness takes root in manufacturing?
Manufacturers are all familiar with the 5S methodology to organize the work space and process. 5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Amazingly, transliterated or translated into English, they all start with the letter S: sort, set, shine, standardize, sustain. (Credit goes to Hiroyuki Hirano and his overall approach to production systems)
The obvious benefit of 5S methodology is improved productivity; has expanded from manufacturing and is now being applied to a wide variety of industries including health care, education, and government. This methodology can be applied to any workplace and it applies to a Computer Network environment. Organizing the hardware and software used in your environment, identifying and running the items used, maintaining the equipment, and sustaining the new order through standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how they should best utilize the computer network – including hardware, software and business applications in the cloud – to be most productive at work. Let’s review.
Sorting helps you to use a red tag method that will get rid of all the different processes or items that you don’t need. Throughout the years, your organization may have acquired software and hardware that may be either used partially, or not used at all. I bet you have some old boxes and bundles of cables and trinkets that you don’t know what to do with. Some of them you probably don’t even know what they are for! This is also a good time to do an inventory of your software, to make sure that all of your copies are licensed and up-to-date. Perhaps you can donate your old or unused computers, or discard old and broken gadgets and network-related equipment. Don’t forget to comply with your local laws about e-waste! The recycling collection methods differ from one town to the other. Sometimes the schedules and accepted items lists are amended without notice, leading to change in business hours or including or excluding certain items. Check out this resource for and electronic waste and computer recycling:
Evaluate your legacy systems to have full understanding of what is going to go now. Take steps to remove these items from your location. Sorting will de-clutter and free up space that your organization will need to move on to the next step – Set.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you have, and what you need – and let’s not forget some free space, you can move on to the next aspect of 5 S method: set everything in order. During this step you will make sure to lay out your computer network in most efficient way, and make sure that your employees have a proper workplace that allows them to be productive within your network: make sure that if new equipment, software or license is required, it is acquired. Don’t be an unintentional software pirate! Make sure that your offices are properly wired, and your necessary items such as printers, scanners, etc. at a reachable distance and can be easily accessed. So, set things in order – and then shine!
Once you have the workplace sorted and set, it’s time to put some shine on. What are you doing to make sure your network is neat and clean? The third step, shine, is crucial to the 5 S method. Teach your workforce the importance of maintaining and cleaning the equipment and data for a great impact on the way your business operates. Shine also helps the equipment to last longer as you aren’t neglecting it and allowing it to get cluttered or dusty. In addition to prolonging the lifespan of your equipment, keeping things right is also healthy for your employees. This page from OSHA – Ergonomic Solutions for Occupational Safety is a great resource for recommended workspace standards. Any environment can benefit from equipment that is ergonomic – there is plethora of items such as monitors, keyboards, mice, office chairs, etc. that are designed to keep your employees comfortable while on the job. When they perform their jobs better, your business is doing better. To propel your success even further, move on to the next step – standardize.
One of the most important things you can do for your business is to standardize the equipment and processes withing your computer network. New procedures, once vetted, should be properly documented and made standard. It will ensure that large orders and other processes would flow easily, especially if you are looking to expand your business. When you have your equipment documented, and when procedures become part of the employee manual, your organization will benefit from improved operations. You can easily use standard procedures for cross-training of your employees, or bringing new hires on board. In addition, many platforms and solutions now come with options to migrate data one to another, and having a standardized setup makes things like data migrations, equipment and software updates a breeze.
With standards in mind keep an eye on the new trend – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Users are shifting away from corporate issued devices, such as Blackberry smart phones, to devices they feel more comfortable with, such as iOS or Android based platforms. If not all of your equipment is standard, processes still should be. Keep computer network security and efficiency in mind when considering BYOD for your organization.
Your final step, sustain, is the hardest – not falling back into old habits is not easy. It is even more difficult if you don’t have a full-time IT staff on board to perform tech support and maintenance. Left unmonitored, your data, your network and computer equipment and devices may get compromised and bring you to a gradual decline back to the old ways. It may affect your business directly by having your business data and environment vulnerable. It turn, it will leave employees idle and impacting your ability to do business, costing you even more through the loss of productivity, revenue, or reputation.
Managed Services allows you to maintain and review standards through practice of outsourcing day-to-day IT management and Computer Network Tech Support as a cost-effective method for improving business operations. Boost performance, tighten security, and extend the life of your IT assets. Many IT companies provide Managed services. If your business is in New Jersey or New York, give us a call at 201-493-1414 to discuss the benefits of Managed IT Services for your business.
5s Methodology is a great force behind quality, improved health & safety, and productivity within your organization – and it is true not just for manufacturing, or a computer network, but for any other environment.
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