5 Ways to Achieve a Successful Warehouse Management SystemBy Doug Bartholomew | Posted 2008-03-14 Print
Here's how to really take advantage of a data warehouse system for a successful implementation and long-term management.
spend a heck of a lot of time trying to make their company’s enterprise
resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (
often, though, the real reason a shipment to a customer arrived late, or a
customer received an erroneous shipment, can be traced not to ERP or
lowly warehouse management system (
Selecting Warehouse Software from
1. Get on the same page.
Obal says the objectives of a
Both the company and the vendor
must have strong project managers who are skilled at saying “no” to requests
for additional functionality, Obal cautions. “It’s okay to have positive
expectations for a
There should be a formal process established to handle new requests. Obal recommends avoiding any customization of the system. “Ninety-eight percent of all software is not unique to everybody—it is what everybody needs,” he adds. Also, customization tends to be a killer later on, when it comes time to test the system, and people find out the codes are wrong.
3.Take advantage of data-mapping tools.
These are automated tools that let you map one type of data to another. This is essential for companies trying to deal with different shipping data formats, such as advanced ship notices that can come in XML, EDI, spreadsheets, or other formats. Companies should leverage these to the max, using them in dealing with suppliers, customers, shipping carriers, banks, etc.
4.Test, test, test.
Sufficient testing is the best way to avoid a meltdown
when you go live with a new
Of course, in a low-volume warehouse with, say, 1,000 shipments per day, a company can throw manpower at the snafu until it gets straightened out. “But a high-volume shop that won’t work,” Obal says. “It has to be right every time.” Warehouses need to process-test each workflow, including inbound, outbound, cross-dock, cycle count, etc.
5.Be sure to get buy-in.
“You want people to buy into it, including the software selection process,” Obal suggests. Too often, companies purchase software with little concern for the employees who are the ultimate users. “Involve warehouse managers and key workers and supervisors in the software selection process,” Obal says. “Once they’ve sat through four or five software company presentations, they can rate which package is stronger. Getting people to participate is critical. It helps to dissipate some of the fear factor they may have over whether they may lose their jobs. Instead, they can see how the system is designed to make them more efficient and get more labor done, so the company can grow the warehouse.”
He recommends training workers to use the new system no more than two weeks before the go-live date, so they don’t forget what they’ve learned.
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