Warehouse Management System Implementation

The Basic Aspect of Warehouse Management System Implementation

It is known that the satisfactory implementation of a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is never guaranteed. With this in mind, managers tend to hold on to outdated ERP warehouse modules to avoid the possible negative consequences of implementing a new system. Moreover, the potential risks make the choice of a new system and of the integrator an uneasy one. The present article outlines the basic aspects of WMS implementation to help managers avoid common mistakes and better plan the implementation of the system. Expectations. Implementing a new warehouse management system involves several sets of expectations from different stakeholders. Company managers expect a quick ROI and smooth implementation. Warehouse managers expect the new system to be user friendly and to make their job easier, eliminating inefficient processes and bad warehousing habits. Warehouse employees expect their work to become easier, and fewer mistakes to occur, without losing their job. Communicating and managing expectations from day one helps employees at all levels adjust to upcoming and ongoing changes. Moreover, managing expectations helps avoid disappointment. If, for example, management is aware of the difficulties that the new system may create for warehouse employees, steps may be taken to avoid opposition. Risk reduction. Reducing risks is an essential part of warehouse management system implementation. The main objective is to assess the risks that may arise from the implementation and take measures to minimize them. The key factor is the experience of the implementation team. Different warehousing scenarios, methods, and processes can lead to different risks. The more experienced the personnel taking part in the project, the less the project is exposed to unexpected risks. Working with WMS consultants can also help deal with this issue. Business review. In the course of the business review everyone gets together to talk about and understand how the warehouse works and what are the needs of the warehouse. The types of issues that should arise are the disadvantages of the WMS in current use, risks and expectations, and more. The implementation schedule is planned based on the business review. Implementation schedule. Many warehouse management system implementation projects fail to meet their schedules. This issue may be regarded as a project risk. It is often the result of improper planning and unexpected obstacles. Although unexpected delays are unavoidable, if a project is properly planned, some risks can be avoided. A solid plan leaves room for unexpected events and can therefore accommodate them. Correct planning is the result of experience. Teams. Two teams are needed 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, and others can jeopardize the success of a project. Design and customization. The WMS project is designed based on the business review, and the existing software is customized to meet client needs. The more flexible the future WMS, the less customization is needed. Minimizing customization is usually one of the keys to a successful project. The more modifications are performed on an existing system, the greater the risk that something may go wrong along the way. This means that the warehouse workflow must adapt in some ways to the new conventions of the warehouse management system's conventions. Although most warehouse management systems are built to meet industry standards, changes may be required in the way the warehouse works. Risks and expectations should be addressed accordingly. Training. During design and customization future users of the system should undergo training. This phase is crucial for facilitating the transition from one warehouse management system to another. Although user training is a time-consuming process, do not neglect it. The success of the implementation depends greatly on the ability of the users to handle the new system. Plan the training seriously and implement it according to plan. Data. Part of the implementation of a new WMS involves transferring warehouse data from one system to another. This means that the entire database used by the old system to manage the warehouse must be adapted to the data scheme and terminology of the new system. Moreover, missing data must be added, and data must be modified to fit the new system requirements. This can be performed through interface or by ETL (extract, transform, and load). Testing. Testing is usually performed using real warehouse data, comparing the results of warehouse process execution in both systems. Different warehousing scenarios are tested, and bugs in the design are fixed by the warehouse management system supplier. Bugs in configuration are also addressed by the implementation team. Deployment. 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. Support. 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 WMS project always demands solutions to problems that arise during operation. Made4net develops and implements waehouse management systems worldwide. Feel free to contact us or join our implementation partners program.