Five Steps to Successfully Implement Your WMS

Researching, selecting, implementing and supporting your Warehouse Maintenance System is no small task. With everything that is involved, it’s easy to skip a step or make a wrong choice that will have you retracing your steps, wondering where the whole thing went wrong. Instead of second-guessing your decisions later, take a look at these five ways to help your WMS implementation to be a success:

Step 1: Understand your Requirements
Develop a detailed map of your current business processes. Make sure that the WMS can satisfy those business processes. Be open to using existing WMS functions and features that satisfy your business process needs even if the steps in your process have to change. Remember, it’s the end results that matter; meeting customer service requirements, achieving productivity targets while maintaining high levels of inventory accuracy.

Step 2: Minimize software modification
No modifications should be your mantra. Today’s highly configurable WMS can satisfy most business requirements. Be prepared to look at changes in your current steps to achieve your business process by using existing WMS functionality. Software modifications are significant contributors to failed projects due to software bugs, upgrade problems, and the negative effects on project schedules and costs.

Step 3: Develop a detailed implementation, startup and transition plan
Plan to succeed and follow your plan. The old saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road with get you there,” is especially true with WMS implementations. There are a large number of details that must be planned and managed. Spend the time upfront to define a detailed plan and then manage your project to the plan.

Step 4: Test your configuration
After determining which WMS features you will implement, you will spend a significant amount of time entering parameters and configuration data. Use test scenarios for all of your business processes. Verify your training material is accurate. Resolve all configuration problems prior to system startup and transition. Starting up and testing with a small set of items or a piece of your business can be very helpful.

Step 5: Train your people
Spend the time to develop training material and then train your users. If you only do on-the-job training and do not have a formal training program you will be sorry. People come and go over time; this is another area where a formal repeatable training program pays off.

Kevin Tedford is VP of consulting services for Forte Industries, a B2B supply chain distribution operations improvement firm. More information can be accessed at www.forte-industries.com or by calling 513-398-2800.

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