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A Look at Successful Warehouse Management System Implementation

Modern warehouse management systems have evolved, enabling real-time inventory management, seamless omnichannel operability, and better cost and risk management. Successful warehouse management system implementation begins and ends with a knowledgeable team, and an understanding of the fundamental characteristics of successful implementation strategies.

Warehouse Management System Implementation Symbolizes an Understanding of Operational Requirements

Before implementation, your team must define system requirements needed in your existing operations. This is best approached by categorizing areas of the operation and determining if they are a pain point, sufficiently meeting business needs, exceeding business needs, or an optimized source of competitive advantage. Examples of areas that can be evaluated include:

  • Ability to handle Inbound receiving variances that are typical for your business
  • Optimizing putaway for outbound processing
  • Ability to efficiently select the optimal orders to be processed
  • Effective and efficient processing of forward pick-face replenishment
  • Visibility into workforce productivity
  • Optimizing transportation for cost and service to customers
  • Returns processing and ability to mine data for insights
  • Ability to efficiently integrate with material handling equipment (MHE)

Your team must be comprised of individuals that have a deep understanding of the operation and how users interact with the system. Many times, companies are so focused on the great new things that the system can do that they forget to pay attention to the things that the existing system handled very well. Another common mistake is to hire new people into the organization and put them in a critical role in the implementation. Sadly, it seems those people rarely seem to last more than a couple years in the organization. Instead, put the individual that the operation can least afford to lose in a key project role and replace them with a promotable operations person who can work with that new hire. This will reduce project risk and set the new hire up for success within the organization.

Determine the Roles and Responsibilities of Software Vendor and Implementation Specialists

Modern WMS software has become extremely complex in order to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. You must identify the complexity of the software you are implementing and determine the optimal mix of roles and responsibilities based on that complexity. Many of today’s most popular systems require 4+ years of hands-on experience before a user can begin to gain a mastery of the solution. A good implementation partner will have resources that thrive on developing that deep understanding and have a focus on the overall success of the implementation. They will also help you fill often missing critical gaps like software-specific project management, quality assurance, and training.

System Configuration Is Intelligent and Built on Automation

The system configuration should use intelligent tools and be built on automated processes. This reduces the number of man-hours necessary to implement a system. Depending on the size of your operation, flexible configuration tools will enable faster implementation, similar to the use of a template when creating a Word document. Also, it is better to base implementation on an iterative process, setting milestones and avoiding the pitfalls of trying to do everything at once.

Flexible Testing Is Crucial to Successful Warehouse Management System Implementation

Flexible configuration leads to the need for a combined manual and automated testing platform. By eliminating the need to recode tests, automated testing simulates countless processes and ensures the system works as expected upon going live.

Training Increases Adoption and Understanding of Core System Functions

Learning how to use the interface after warehouse management system implementation will breed distrust, hostility, and frustration among your team. It is imperative that all team members receive a combination of classroom and hands-on training before the go-live date.

Reporting and the Creation of Reasonable Metrics Maximize Returns

System reporting and performance measurement enable better supply chain management by giving everyone something to work toward. Reasonable metrics establish achievable targets and encourage employees. This will make sure all needs are met, including cycle time, throughput, cost per unit and productivity.

Avoid Making Unnecessary Modifications Early in Implementation

Modern warehouse management system implementation can be heavily customized through modifications, but that does not mean all systems should be modified. Modification increases total cost of ownership and can cause problems in perpetuity. Avoid making unnecessary modifications to the system early in implementation. If a modification is anything less than absolutely-necessary, attempt to run the system without it for at least 30 days. Many of those modifications will never be developed or will be built differently with some operational history.

Understanding of Warehouse Management System Design and Implementation Will Boost Returns and Enable Informed Decision Making

Not understanding the fundamentals of successful warehouse management system implementation will result in fear-based decision making. Warehouse managers want to fulfill more orders, and the haste generated by increased consumer demand will result in erroneous, costly decisions, based on assumption as well. To mitigate these risks, all parties must understand system design and key characteristics of successful implementation. This promotes informed, data-based decisions and enhances implementation processes.

Find out more about everything you need to make your warehouse management system implementation by clicking the buttons below to schedule some time to meet with the Veridian team and/or download our white paper on warehouse management system selection.

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