11 basic steps of Warehouse Management System Implementation
1 Expectations and Motivations. Implementing a new warehouse management system involves differing sets of expectations and motivations from the various stakeholders. Company Directors and Operations / Logistics Managers by definition are seeking a speedy ROI and smooth implementation. 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.
2 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 experience of the implementation team within the warehouse management system provider is paramount. An experienced WMS provider installation team will be steeped in experience in terms of working with a diverse range of warehousing scenarios and processes can lead to a wide variety of risks. The more experienced the client and provider personnel taking part in the project, the less the project is exposed to unexpected risks.
3 Business review. The business review at the start of the warehouse management system project allows both parties to discuss, dissect and understand how the warehouse functions and what are the needs and requirements of the warehouse. The types of issues that should arise are the disadvantages of the incumbent warehouse management system, risks and expectations. The implementation schedule and process should be built around the business review.
4 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. A flexible, realistic implementation plan allows space and time in the schedule for unforeseen events and can therefore accommodate them. Once again thorough planning is the result of an experienced warehouse management system provider’s installation team.
5 Team Building. 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.
6 Design and customisation. The warehouse management system installation project is designed based on the aforementioned business review, and the existing software is customized to meet client needs. The more flexible the future WMS, the less customization required. Minimizing customisation is usually one of the keys to a successful project. 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.
7 Training. During design and customisation future users of the system should undergo training. Snapfulfil typically offer two day in house training sessions for client warehouse staff. This is critical 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.
8 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.
9 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 WMS provider implementation team.
10 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.
11 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 warehouse management system project always demands solutions to problems that arise during operation. This is where a cloud based warehouse management system provider like Snapfulfil comes into its own. Snapfulfil offers the SaaS model (Software as a Service), whereby through monthly payment subscriptions, the client warehouse has a managed service at its disposal twenty four hours a day.