Warehouse management systems (WMS) is a software program that helps organizations manage, monitor, and control their everyday warehouse operations. From when goods enter a warehouse to when they leave for their intended destination, WMS helps distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers streamline their processes. With online sales projected to reach $476.5 billion by 2024, the need for an efficient WMS is real.
Modern WMS tools are delivered either as unitary software or module integrated with a more comprehensive ERP solution. WMS solutions come equipped with RFID tags and barcode scanners, AI automation features, and other advanced technologies. However, the key to WMS performance lies in its implementation. If you fail to plan before you start implementing, the chances are you will never reap the benefits of using a WMS.
Adopt tried and tested strategies to implement a WMS correctly the first time.
Rolling out a Warehouse Management System can be risky and complex, especially if you use other software programs. If you do not handle it carefully, you may create multiple duplicated copies. In addition, not training your staff to use the new WMS may result in the said WMS not being used. Hence, training your staff beforehand is essential.
If your warehouse is busy and goods are moving in and out, implementing a new WMS without proper precautions and planning can result in chaos on the floor. Most importantly, not foreseeing the ramifications of a new WMS at your warehouse locations can result in unplanned effects.
In short, you must consider various risk factors and implement a WMS correctly.
The five steps crucial to a successful WMS implementation:
Planning and Preparation
The first step towards implementing a WMS is to plan and prepare for it. To begin with, create an implementation team that consists of a project manager, a warehouse manager, a database administrator, and a WMS expert.
The project manager ensures that everything goes according to the plan, while the warehouse manager helps understand the challenges and limitations of the warehouse itself. The database administrator will help take care of existing and new data, while the WMS expert will help you shop around. Once you have a team in place, brainstorm why you want a WMS in the first place.
Some of the reasons could include the following:
- Not being able to fulfill orders on time.
- Inefficient movement of goods within the warehouse
- Theft and loss of goods
- Inability to track and monitor every time in the warehouse
- Not being able to manage stock or inventory in response to customer demand
There could be multiple other reasons. The next step should be to plan, prepare a budget, and communicate with different teams. When in doubt, speak to various vendors and seek their advice. Pick the one that agrees to work with you right from the outset — from the planning and preparation stage.
Priority’s WMS consultants will gladly work with you and your team to create an implementation plan.
Data Migration and Integration
Usually, existing databases contain a lot of duplicate data that causes errors and redundancies. It is crucial to cleanse the data and ensure it is up-to-date. Your database administrator should closely work with your new vendor to ensure that the data is migrated fully and correctly.
Vendors often provide data migration services but may only store your data for a short time. You can also lose data during cleansing attempts, which is one of the reasons you should work with an experienced database administrator to ensure that different formats and aspects are not lost during migration. It is also vital to create a backup of your existing data.
A new, modern WMS may not recognize legacy data. It is vital to transform data into a readable format in such situations.
In short, ensure that you pay extra attention to your existing database in advance for a successful WMS implementation.
Training your staff
Train your warehouse staff to use WMS before it is actually put to use. This includes ensuring they have enough time to learn, practice, and let go of their previous warehouse management processes. Some vendors provide online courses and training materials, while others take a more hands-on approach.
The cost of training may depend on where it takes place. For instance, it may be cheaper if your staff visits your vendor’s location. However, most vendors prefer to send their representatives to their clients’ locations and train warehouse staff on the job.
You can also designate an in-house trainer who is also a WMS expert. This person can assume the responsibility of training everyone using the software program. However, it is important to “train the trainer” as well.
At Priority, we offer various training options for our customers. Contact us today to learn how we can help your staff seamlessly learn to use Priority WMS.
Once you are sure that your chosen WMS aligns with your goals and plans, have successfully migrated your data, and have trained your staff on using the WMS, it is time to go live.
The first time a WMS goes live and end users start using it in real-time
is crucial for conducting further tests to identify any hurdles or roadblocks. The implementation team assigned at the beginning should carefully work with the vendor to ensure everything goes exactly according to the plan.
Minor challenges can be expected, but these can be ironed out when one learns about them. At Priority, we prioritize maintaining a line of communication post-go-live and ensuring that onsite support is provided quickly.
It is important to note that you may only need onsite support if it is warranted. Priority also offers web and telephone support during and after your WMS goes live.
Ongoing Support and Maintenance
A WMS can be delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, wherein the vendor may automatically update and maintain your product. However, if your WMS is deployed onsite, you may require maintenance and upgrades from time to time.
Onsite maintenance work often requires additional costs, which the client bears. However, technical and customer support should always be available during the implementation and post-implementation stages. Make sure you chat with your vendor regarding how these things work.
Inquire with your vendor about what kind of after-sales support they provide. After-sales support and maintenance should be ongoing, whether gratis, paid, or combined.
Most importantly, continue to track your key performance indicators (KPIs), and if something seems underwhelming, contact your vendor again to check how you can improve those metrics.
How Priority makes WMS Implementation easier for your business
Priority’s WMS module is integrated with the Priority ERP system and does not require additional interfaces. It can be implemented easily and comes with several built-in features such as Pick, Pack, & Ship, Receiving and Put Away, support for mobile devices, etc.
Priority WMS can be implemented as a standalone module in an isolated area of your warehouse. Later, you can scale and implement it in other parts of your warehouse or network. It even comes with incremental shit-down capabilities, making it scalable in either direction.
We offer dedicated support to our customers and ensure that their journey toward streamlining their warehouse operations is successfully implemented. Get in touch with us today to learn how you can implement WMS successfully at your warehouse locations.