Friday, July 27, 2012

Keys for a Good WMS Implementation

What are some key factors are for a good Warehouse Management System (WMS) implementation?  This is a great topic and there are many answers to such an open ended question.  Below is a list of some common issues.  What can you add to this list?

Suggestions with some additional thoughts:

1.       Preparation.  Involve everyone, do your planning, and create lots of test cases. 

2.       Needs.  Do you need this or did your boss read a recent press release and now wants what the competition has?

3.       Expectations.  Is what you want to accomplish reasonable?  Is a WMS solution the answer to what is keeping you awake at night?

4.       Focus.  Focus on business processes and requirements first.  This is what you are trying to streamline.  This is not a Technology decision.

5.       People.  Who is or will be involved in the design, planning, testing, implementation, and utilization of this solution?

6.       Testing.  Determine what needs to be tested and actually perform those tests.  Do not just give the system what it is expecting.

7.       Finance.  Make sure there is reasonable Return on Investment (ROI).  Why else would you invest what could be a significant amount?  The solution should address the inventory, labor and equipment utilization.

8.       Project.  Strong project management and resource commitment.  If you do not have a technology road map, how do you know where you are starting from and where you are headed?  How will you know when you get there?

9.       Support.  Commitment from executive team.  Commitment from software and hardware vendors and realistic goals, buy in and managed expectations.  A good job will take time and this is a project that should not be rushed.

10.   Planning.  Take the time to plan up front and include time for problems and pitfalls.

11.   Training.  If you want the change to be successful, you are going to have to invest in training.  The solution may make sense to you, but if the people actually using the system do not understand, then you will have trouble, delays and cost overruns.

12.   Future.  Consider long range goals and plan accordingly for growth.  This does not have to be the final system you use, but if you are not planning at least three to five years down the line, you may be shortsighted and bound for a costly mistake.

13.   ERP.  Tie the WMS solution to your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  These systems can run stand alone, but if efficiency and streamlined operations are included in your goals, then you need and should want a fully integrated solution.

14.   Changes.  Make sure if changes are needed they get done promptly.  Changes can be a twin edge sword and open your system to instability, but also promise a tailored solution.  Just make sure that the people making the changes understand the system and the implications of your change requests.

15.   Complications.  Do not overcomplicate a simple solution.  Implement in stages if that is an option.  Get the basics working first, then turn on the fancy bells and whistles.

16.   Implementation.  Use your project plan, allow for unforeseen and stick to the plan.  Do not get pressured to start if you are not ready.

17.   Workarounds.  What have you planned to do when the system is implemented and it is not working?

18.   Instincts.  Trust your gut instincts.  If it does not feel right, then find out why.  Did you just eat something that disagreed with your insides or is there a problem that will cost you your job?

19.   Ownership.  Who owns the project?  Who will be or is the leader from within?

Contact Dolvin Consulting today.  Dolvin works with manufacturers, distributors and specialty retailers to help them streamline their computer operations with ERP and WMS solutions to reduce their costs and increase profits. 

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