Start the New Year with a positive resolution. Don’t put off your WMS planning & implementation project any longer!
Firstly, let’s look at the benefits of implementing a WMS. Warehouse management systems (WMS) can process data quickly and coordinate movements within the warehouse. They can also produce reports and handle large volumes of transactions, such as those inherent in e-commerce operations. So, what are you waiting for? Start your WMS planning & implementation project today and realise numerous benefits.
The potential benefits of having a WMS in place include:
- Efficient and effective labour management
- Stock visibility and traceability
- Accurate inventory counts
- Fewer picking errors
- Fewer returns
- Accurate reporting
- Improved responsiveness
- Remote data visibility
- Automatic replenishment
- Improved customer service
- Minimised paperwork
Before embarking on a WMS planning & implementation project, you need to be certain that you will achieve significant business benefits. The first thing to do before choosing a WMS is work out what you can afford to spend on it and what would be your needed payback to justify the cost. As part of this, you should have strict measurable criteria for success (metrics are very important to recognise the success or failure). Remember, payback may not happen in the first six months, as you will need to acclimatise and train people even on the most intuitive system. There are many cases where payback happens soon after day one, but that would depend on your current system and the new one you choose. Make sure you have a clear idea of your expected timelines for implementation as these may be affected by seasonal variation, etc.
Most WMS planning & implementation projects will take about 2 months from the original sign-off date. However, large-scale implementations could be a lot longer. This is because there has to be time for training, data take-on, functional design, testing (critical), hardware purchase, user acceptance testing, implementation, etc. Do not think you could buy a decent system today and implement tomorrow. If you are integrating to 3rd party systems that can also take time, as not every 3rd party supplier responds in a timely manner. As a business, the quickest we have done an implementation is 6 weeks, but the average is 3-4 months for implementation.
This is usually done by going to market and seeing a few providers; getting quotes and working out potential payback (never take suggested payback by a provider as anything but marketing). A good way to do this is to speak directly to people using the prospective product away from the supplier wherever possible.
Suggested potential paybacks include :
- Faster and more accurate picking/packing
- Easier on boarding of new staff – a good system should mean temporary staff could be utilised for picking with only a half hour training as opposed to productivity ramp-ups you may currently have.
- Higher volume throughput
- Stock accuracy
- Realtime reporting
- Better resilience and ability to change
- Integration with 3rd party systems you may not have previously had
Other preparation you need to do which will make a big difference include your pick-face usage, current fast-moving goods locations, and pick-walk structure prior to the system taking over. A good WMS will work with these and suggest better location usage after the event, but good housekeeping prior to the implementation will make it all run much more smoothly. Demarcation of internal structures and paths, as well as very good barcoding and labelling across racking and stock, will be critical. You should also do a calculation on how many devices you are likely to need now and in the future.
Whatever system you go with make sure you do a full stock take and you are as accurate as possible, remembering -“rubbish in – rubbish out.” Although over time a good WMS would correct this through PI, payback and accuracy up front can only be a good thing.
Scanner integration should ideally be Android based to allow for cost variation and the future. Microsoft won’t be supporting the Win CE ones for long, and potentially Android may suit you better if you intend to use other applications as well as your WMS on them.
When you have chosen a supplier and gone through the stages of implementation, you should be able to directly measure all of the targets you originally set. You should do this and use it as a tool to work out how realistic your supplier was in the first place and to decide the best way to focus the system going forward.
The key areas to remember for any software implementation are:
- Choose your vendor based on quality, not just cost.
- Testing and training are critical.
- Make sure hard allocated time from everybody in your business that is needed is given to the project in a timely manner.
A WMS is not a quick-fix solution, and it is more than an inventory control system and data collection tool. It is a system that helps automate your warehousing operations as much as possible. Your warehouses and distribution centres are under increased pressure to adapt to rapid changes in consumer demand. Without the proper plans, WMS and technology in place, your logistics operation will not be able to meet this new standard of service. Can you afford to stand still and not move with the times? Don’t put off your WMS planning & implementation project any longer!
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.