Are You In Control Of Your Warehouse Data?

Is your warehouse data driving your key decisions and processes in your warehouse or are you working blind?

Years ago, business decisions were made primarily with “gut feelings” or observations drawn directly from personal experience — essentially, if there wasn’t a general shop in town, opening a general shop was considered a good idea. When businesses faced little competition or obstacles, this method was successful enough to keep the doors open. However, analysis warehouse data is key to staying one step ahead.

Unless you’re in the enviable position of having a unique product that only you can provide, your customers won’t stick around for long if your competitors can fulfil orders quicker and provide a better shopping experience for them. Being cheaper won’t help if customers want their orders quickly.

Failure to adopt systems early will slow growth, increase costs and result in missed opportunities

You need a system that can interface with your e-commerce solution to take the guesswork and doubt out of stock control. This is where the WMS comes in. A properly configured WMS will enable you to track items from before their arrival to when they leave your warehouse and beyond. Along the way it will help you make key decisions quickly and effortlessly using accurate and real-time information.

Removing Bad Habits Through Warehouse Data Analysis

It’s been said by gurus from all facets of business that one of the most damaging phrases for innovation and improvement is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Data is important because it leads to success stories, but it can’t work if you aren’t gathering it. Keeping track of your data is crucial for turning it into an effective tool, and even the barest of data recording can become a pool of information that will help you make the right decisions moving forward.

Not All Warehouse Data is Equal

Ultimately, the best data for your operation is the numbers that pertain to your most important processes in the warehouse. Instead of going with typical KPIs, walk around and talk to your warehouse managers. Consider questions like these when narrowing down your KPI targets:

Where are your pick/pack team members getting bogged down as they work the floor? Speed of order completion could hint at bottlenecks to be corrected.

Do associates know the standards for their processes and are they developed to meet those standards? Involving workers in standard creation and communicating accurate expectations out leads to buy in, and a philosophy of coaching/mentoring along with measurement leads to improvement.

How far are team members traveling to reach distant bins between SKUs? Layout and product placement can have a huge positive or negative impact on pick speed—you may find your items need re-slotting.

How accurate are pick orders? Inconsistencies lead to supply chain breakdowns and unhappy customers—if there’s a recurring issue, you need to know about it to stop it.

Are staffing levels adequate for peak times, or do teams struggle to meet completion goals? Scheduling may need adjustments to meet your business needs properly.

Who Is In Charge Of Your Warehouse Data?

While future technology may allow business owners to press a button to collect data automatically, human interaction is still needed in modern business. You’ll need to designate a trusted employee, preferably a member of your management team, to collect, examine, and approve data streams from your operation workflows. Even if they simply act as the human go-between to review automated reports, they’re still an important part of turning raw data into an actionable business improvement tool.

This data manager or managers should:

  • Determine the company baseline for productivity in selected KPIs, as well as manageable improvement goals.
  • Feel comfortable discussing potential improvement plans, both with the floor staff and C-suite.
  • Review data on a regular basis, which means, potentially:
    • Hourly for productivity goals—how are individual employees doing, is the shift meeting efficiency goals, and so on.
    • Daily for trend-watching and team member feedback—if there’s a missed goal with individual performance, this allows for a process observation to determine what is leading to the missed goal.
    • Weekly for financial assessments and order planning—ordering more product than the team can handle only exacerbates an existing issue, driving productivity down.
    • Monthly to watch for creeping errors and looming issues—high turnover among warehouse floor teams, or high rates of breakage/loss.

Is Software The Way Forward With Data-Driven Decisions?

No one program can “save” a warehouse that’s determined to listen to its gut instead of its data. That said, if a business is genuinely ready to make a change for the better, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how helpful their existing WMS can be. The WNS can help discover data like optimal pull times for moving product into buildings and comparisons against set labour standards.

Explore the capability of the programs you already have in place and consider upgrading your WMS if required.

A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software application, designed to support and optimise warehouse functionality and distribution centre management. These systems facilitate management in their daily planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling the utilisation of available resources, to move and store materials into, within, and out of a warehouse, while supporting staff in the performance of material movement and storage in and around a warehouse.

For example, a WMS can provide visibility into an organisation’s inventory at any time and location, whether in a facility or in transit. It can also manage supply chain operations from the manufacturer or wholesaler to the warehouse, then to a retailer or distribution centre. A WMS is often used alongside or integrated with a transportation management system (TMS) or an inventory management system.

In Summary

If you want to find, record, and use the data your warehouse is producing even faster than your pick orders, there’s never been a better time to start.

Cloud-based technology has revolutionised the business world, allowing companies to easily retrieve and store valuable data about their customers, products and employees. This data is used to inform important business decisions. As well as utilising the data from their WMS solutions, many global corporations have turned to data warehousing to organise data that streams in from corporate branches and operations centres around the world. A data warehouse is a system that stores data from a company’s operational databases as well as external sources. Data warehouse platforms are different from operational databases because they store historical information, making it easier for business leaders to analyse data over a specific period of time. Data warehouse platforms also sort data based on different subject matter, such as customers, products or business activities.

About us:

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.