CIOsspend a heck of a lot of time trying to make their company?s enterpriseresource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (
Toooften, though, the real reason a shipment to a customer arrived late, or acustomer received an erroneous shipment, can be traced not to ERP or
Enter thelowly warehouse management system (
Author ofSelecting Warehouse Software from
1. Get on the same page.
Obal says the objectives of anew
Both the company and the vendormust have strong project managers who are skilled at saying ?no? to requestsfor additional functionality, Obal cautions. ?It?s okay to have positiveexpectations for a
There should be a formal processestablished to handle new requests. Obal recommends avoiding any customizationof the system. ?Ninety-eight percent of all software is not unique toeverybody?it is what everybody needs,? he adds. Also, customization tends to bea killer later on, when it comes time to test the system, and people find outthe codes are wrong.
3.Take advantage of data-mappingtools.
These areautomated tools that let you map one type of data to another. This is essentialfor companies trying to deal with different shipping data formats, such asadvanced ship notices that can come in XML, EDI, spreadsheets, or otherformats. Companies should leverage these to the max, using them in dealing withsuppliers, customers, shipping carriers, banks, etc.
4.Test, test, test.
Sufficient testing is the best way to avoid a meltdownwhen you go live with a new
Of course, in a low-volume warehouse with, say, 1,000 shipments per day, acompany can throw manpower at the snafu until it gets straightened out. ?But ahigh-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 softwareselection process,? Obal suggests. Too often, companies purchase software withlittle concern for the employees who are the ultimate users. ?Involve warehousemanagers 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 iscritical. It helps to dissipate some of the fear factor they may have overwhether they may lose their jobs. Instead, they can see how the system isdesigned to make them more efficient and get more labor done, so the companycan grow the warehouse.?
He recommendstraining workers to use the new system no more than two weeks before thego-live date, so they don?t forget what they?ve learned.
Among the scores of