Many process manufacturing companies have successfully implemented a Warehouse Management System (WMS) integrated with their ERP solution, allowing them to reduce labor costs, improve accuracy and greatly increase the visibility of inventory and workflow. However, the reality of WMS implementation is often daunting, as change is difficult. But with preparation, training and the right tools, the odds of a successful go-live is greatly improved. Based on our development and implementation experience, we recommend the following best practices to survive and thrive with your new WMS system.
What is WMS?
WMS is a software application that supports day-to-day warehouse operations by automating real-time tracking of materials, encompassing all production processes from raw materials to finished goods. Specifically, through the use of barcodes and handheld scanners, it enables receipt and return of materials, tracks inventory, produces documents, navigates picking and shipping and creates reports – automating a variety of tasks into one easily managed system designed to increase efficiency and visibility. System and data errors are significantly reduced through the use of WMS, leading to higher productivity and accuracy throughout the organization.
Partner with a Trusted ERP Provider
The first key to a successful go-live is working with an industry-specific ERP provider that implements the WMS installation using a Technology Implementation Plan (TIP) tailored to your company’s specific needs. The ERP vendor’s IT experts work to integrate the network and hardware necessary to make the WMS a success throughout the planning, implementation and ongoing system utilization. This includes server and wireless network requirements and handheld recommendations for Android and Windows Mobile, as well as device and deployment suggestions for your specific company.
It is vital to develop and implement a change management plan that focuses on understanding, managing and communicating changes that the WMS brings to the company both internally and externally. Central to the plan is the concept that the WMS not only affects manufacturing and distribution but influences other functional areas of the company including customer service, HR and finance. Communication and buy-in are essential and flexibility and open-mindedness to employee concerns go a long way in ensuring a successful WMS go-live.
Prior to go-live, a thorough test plan should be developed and implemented that allows for adequate testing of WMS product movements, warehouse workflows and integration with the ERP solution. Exception testing and practice scenarios should be utilized to iron out difficulties before they become bigger problems. An end-to-end test run using real warehouse and product data allows functions and transactions to be explored, validated and adjusted as needed.
Comprehensive end-user training should be conducted prior to implementation, not only by the vendor but additionally by the company itself. Often the ERP partner will lead “Train the Trainer” sessions so key personnel in your company become the point of contact and provide onsite help whenever employees need assistance. Guided steps on performing everyday tasks should be clearly laid out to allow for repeated practice and hands-on involvement to master usage of the new software.
The decision to automate your process manufacturing operation with WMS is a big step for any business. ProcessPro’s team of experts have more than 30 years of experience successfully implementing our WMS solution, utilizing our proven TIP methodology. Contact us today with any questions you may have. We can help you make the right decision about when it is time to automate and provide our best practices for your successful WMS go-live.