Putting off your WMS implementation could cost you money
The implementation of a WMS is often complex. Project planning is critical to the success of any WMS implementation. The project requires warehouse resources to collect data on the physical warehouse, materials, and inventory, as well as defining the strategies required to operate the warehouse.
It can be daunting knowing where to start and remembering all the processes and elements you should consider before you get started with your cloud WMS implementation. Numerous companies have enjoyed the benefits of using a real time Warehouse Management Software (WMS) system and when properly deployed, this technology can enable companies to reduce labour costs, improve accuracy, and greatly increase visibility of inventory and workflow.
No matter what size business you are, to get the best results from your new system, successful implementation is vital. Failure to plan effectively can lead to data loss, reduced efficiency and even system failure.
So let’s get started….
Create your implementation team
Two teams are required for WMS implementation: an implementation team and a team of client warehouse executives. Selecting the right team can make the difference between success and failure. The process is more complex than merely selecting the best personnel. Issues such as communication between client representatives and implementation team leaders, personal chemistry are critical to the success of a warehouse management system installation. The following key personnel are key to success.
- Project manager: the person leading the entire effort, keeping a high overview as well as problem solving. If you’re reading this WMS implementation guide, you’re probably the PM.
- Warehouse manager: you’ll need someone from leadership to be involved in the process. They will help you understand budget limitations and process requirements. They’re your second in command.
- Database administrator: This team member will be responsible for managing your existing data and assisting with the data migration process.
- On-staff engineer: bring in your IT team whenever possible to monitor and help. Their final role will vary — sometimes as QA testing, others to help customise applications — but there is definitely a need.
- WMS expert/trainer: identify the person who will be using your new WMS the most. They need to be involved to ensure they’re properly trained and can guide you on features as well as the practical day-to-day operations that will influence use. In the long run, this person will likely train new hires on your WMS.
- Go-live team: bring in extra help for when you’re ready to go live. Additional hands in the warehouse can reduce the impact of errors or bottlenecks, while extra IT staff can help troubleshoot any issues that arise.
Expectations and Motivations
Implementing a new warehouse management system involves differing sets of expectations and motivations from the people involved. Key management are seeking a speedy ROI and smooth implementation, whilst warehouse managers expect the new system to be user friendly in order to make their job easier, eliminating inefficient processes and bad warehouse practices and habits. Warehouse staff expect their work to become easier, with fewer errors, but without their job being threatened. It is the job of the warehouse management system provider to communicate clearly and manage expectations from the start in order to assist employees at all levels adjust to imminent changes in the warehouse operation.
Data backups and migration
A cloud WMS implementation guide should start the data discussion on migration because it’s 100% essential for you to maintain data accuracy and validity as you port it over to your new system. Data migration also include a variety of clean-up and new governance rules so that you ensure the information your new WMS uses to manage your business is correct.
However, don’t neglect the need to create a backup of your existing data. It’s good to have one that you use for the migration process and a separate backup on different media just in case. Your vendor may supply the migration backup and data management, but won’t necessarily keep an additional record of your original data available to you.
To prepare for the data migration process, call on your database administrator and on-site engineer to ensure that data formats and aspects are not lost in translation as you move between systems.
Train your staff
Training your staff to use your new WMS can take three to five full days and require some shift work in many cases, so that your team can learn, practice, and have time to ask questions about the new system.
Identifying warehouse leaders and experts with a penchant for technology can increase your success rate. These power users may be able to learn the system faster and provide greater assistance to other employees during the training and after you go live.
Before you deploy your new WMS, you should test it to identify any system defects and put its functions through their paces. This is typically carried out with actual warehouse data, which lets you compare results between both the old and the new system. Various warehousing scenarios are put to the test and bugs in the system are fixed by the cloud WMS implementation team, in conjunction with your vendor and/or planning consultant. Your WMS vendor should address any bugs in the system’s configuration at this stage.
After testing and modifications, the implementation of the warehouse management system reaches its critical stage in the deployment. On an agreed date, an accurate data snapshot of warehouse data is uploaded to the database of the new WMS and work begins using the new system. At times both systems are used at the same time for certain processes to ensure data accuracy.
Review your WMS implementation for success
Now it’s time to evaluate your WMS implementation. The dangers of WMS implementation are significant, and you will definitely know outright failure or success within a short span of time.
- Revenue gains are part of the traditional ROI calculation, where you see a variety of cost reductions or business increases related to how well your warehouse performed.
- Productivity improvements will hopefully come in two flavours after your WMS implementation: decreases in mistakes your team makes (like inventory counts) and increases in overall productivity.
- Client satisfaction can also be easier to track, especially if your WMS is showing that you’re getting more orders out the door on time and that they’re being fulfilled properly.
One added benefit that occurs for some teams implementing a new WMS is that they learn more about their inventory and demand forecasting. This can allow them to reduce inventory on hand and optimise their resupply orders so they’re ultimately paying less to store additional goods.
Preparation is the key to success, or you’ll end up seeing cost increases that you didn’t plan for additional headaches in the warehouse and demotivated staff.
Working with a recently implemented warehouse management system often reveals issues that were not addressed during implementation. Support is an important part of a successful project because the complexity of a warehouse management system project always demands solutions to problems that arise during operation. This is where a cloud based WMS provider like Clarus can assist in your successful cloud WMS implementation.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.