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Electronic Record Management could benefit from both an 8 Wastes Assessment and a 5S. People often assume that once a process is automated, there’s nothing left to improve, but we’ve found otherwise. In some cases, the process is automated before it’s been streamlined, so the automation includes digital versions of the manual non-value added steps. But even if the process was improved before being automated, there are still opportunities. Some examples below:

  1. The Waste of Defects
    1. Are there duplicate names?
    2. Are there drop-down lists or can people type in what they want and create variation?
  2. The Waste of Overproduction
    1. Are there active records that should be archived?
    2. Is there any separation between “Active” and “Working” files?
    3. Have you done a Digital 5S so it’s clear where things should be stored?
    4. Are naming conventions making the latest versions clear?
    5. What happens with the old versions?
  3. The Waste of Waiting
    1. How long does the system take to process?
    2. Is it maintained with current versions and licenses?
    3. Are there opportunities to fine tune and gain productivity?
  4. The Waste of Non-Utilized Intellectual Capital
    1. Can anyone access the electronic records?
    2. Is the task relegated to a few and therefore becomes a bottleneck?
    3. Are there clear and straightforward instructions that anyone could understand in order to access records when they need them?
  5. The Waste of Transportation
    1. Are records being transferred (scanned) from paper to digital?
    2. From paper to storage like Iron Mountain?
    3. How many hand-offs are involved and how long to they take?
  6. The Waste of Inventory
    1. What’s the process for purging old records?
    2. Have you conducted a 5S?
    3. Sorted through what should be stored and what should be eliminated?
    4. Are requests for information forming a queue?
    5. Are people waiting for record retrieval?
    6. Is this function centralized when it could be dispersed?
  7. The Waste of Motion
    1. How many clicks are involved in storing and retrieving records?
    2. How many applications have to be opened and closed?
  8. The Waste of Extra Processing
    1. How much data is being stored?
    2. Are you storing information that no one uses?
    3. Does that make it hard to find valuable information?
    4. Is the user-interface easy to navigate?
    5. Are there extra, unused fields that could be eliminated or clarified?

That’s DOWNTIME: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-utliization of Intellectual Capital, Transportation, Inventory, Motion and Extra-Processing.

Lots of potential for waste in Digital Records Management!

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.