5S Data - Standardize
Goal and motivation
In the fourth step "Standardize," a method is developed that supports the new approach and makes it part of the daily work routine. A standard is created, i.e. a best practice is documented, which all employees are expected to follow. As a fixed rule or guideline, the standard describes the workflow briefly, concisely and in an understandable way. To increase the acceptance of the implementation in the team, it is recommended to involve the employees in the standardization process and to reach an agreement on how work processes will be designed in the future. In addition, established standards from the research community should be used, if available.
An SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) can be used to document the standard procedure, especially for workgroups or cross-workgroup consortia that work in common directories and/or frequently share files. It contains a binding textual description of the standardized procedure and is usually divided into objectives, scope of application, description of the workflow and responsibilities. The SOP can specify the organizational structure and designation of folders and files, but also describe how to handle the established folder and file system:
- How are folders structured?
- How are folders and files named (file naming conventions)?
- Where are certain files stored (e.g. procurement processes under the project folder or finances)?
- Who is allowed to create new folder structures in shared directories?
- In which formats are files stored?
- Which international and/or discipline-specific standards are adopted and applied?
SOPs should be stored centrally and easily available to all team members. If SOPs are newly introduced, all employees should be trained. Readme files, as an alternative to a detailed SOP, can also briefly summarize the new procedure. They should preferably be stored as text files in the appropriate folders. They are also useful for documenting your own work standards.
When working in large teams, it can make sense to limit access rights to certain folders and files and, for example, to give them read-only rights. For example, if people from different workgroups are working on shared laboratory PCs, a notice at the workstation that summarizes the standards in a brief and visualized form can remind users of the new procedure regularly and facilitate collaborative work. Alternatively, the entry of files can also be carried out as a standard task by selected employees who are responsible for the assigned laboratory equipment, for example.