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10 steps to make your WMS implementation a success

Updated: Jul 3

Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) can be a large investment for your business in terms of effort required and cost. The idea of undertaking such an implementation especially in a complex ecosystem may cause for concern at the impact on your organisation.

Implemented correctly, a WMS will lay a foundation for future scalability and organisational growth. The question therefore is how can you make your WMS implementation a success? This 10step guide will help you on your way.

#1 - Engage Stakeholders

A WMS implementation isn't an individual-only task, it takes a team. That's why it's crucial to involve all stakeholders in the process. This includes your warehouse staff, IT personnel, the management team and other key staff members.

There has to be a business-wide buy-in, which is why it's important to communicate the benefits of a new WMS and address any concerns or resistance proactively. Encourage feedback and collaboration to ensure everyone is invested in the success of the implementation. After all, without continued stakeholder engagement, government and support, there is no implementation.

#2 - Define The Objectives

Start by setting clear goals and objectives for implementing a WMS. Identify the specific outcomes that you want to achieve and list them. That list might look like:

  • Increased productivity

  • Reduced errors

  • Improved inventory accuracy

  • Increased customer satisfaction

  • Improved efficiencies

  • Visibility

  • Digitalisation

Whatever the goal, it's important that it's clear, and that a WMS can help you achieve it.

#3 - Conduct a Thorough Needs Assessment

Assess your current warehouse operations and identify areas that need improvement. Determine the functionalities and features required in a WMS to address your warehouse's needs effectively. It's a good idea to involve your key stakeholders, such as warehouse managers, IT staff, and end-users, in the assessment process to get a broader understanding of any challenges.

Your needs assessment could also include a review of your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

#4 - Select the Right WMS Solution

The right WMS solution is key to any successful implementation. You can set goals and assess all you like, but if the WMS doesn't align with those goals or add value to your warehouse it's an opportunity missed. That's why it's important to research and evaluate different WMS providers to find the solution that best aligns with your business requirements.

You should consider factors such as RFI and RFP processes, your budget, system scalability, flexibility, integration capabilities, ease of use, vendor reputation, and expected ROI. Make a point to request demonstrations and ask for references from other customers to validate the system's effectiveness.

This is a good way to gauge how a WMS works in action, and determine if it's easy to implement, integrate and use with your existing systems.

#5 - Plan and Prepare

A successful WMS implementation is all in the planning and preparation. That's why it's worth creating a plan that includes:

  • Timelines

  • Resource allocation

  • A detailed checklist of tasks

You will need to identify any potential infrastructure changes too, such as hardware upgrades and network improvements. This will ensure that they are in place before implementation. Plus, you should set aside time for training and change management activities to ensure smooth adoption.

#6 - Cleanse and Validate Data

Before you push the button on migrating your data to a new WMS, you need to ensure its accuracy and completeness. Ideally, you want to remove any duplicate data, errors and inconsistencies. With that in mind, make sure you conduct data migration tests to ensure a smooth transition without losing any critical information.

Plus, you should check what's available that will work with your upstream systems. For example, how easily will a WMS integrate with a legacy system, and what work will you need to do in-house to prepare?

#7 - Customise and Configure

Customise your WMS to align with your specific business processes and workflows. Then, configure the system based on your warehouse layout, product types, storage strategies, picking methods and any other relevant processes. Most WMS solutions come with customisation options so take advantage of them to optimise efficiency and meet your unique requirements.

The key is not to limit your capabilities, think ahead, build for the future and to not just think about what you are currently doing. You need to consider the growth plans of your organisation, have an agreed plan with regards to gaps in the chosen solution, and be prepared to change processes to match you needs. So, be sure to consider customisation options carefully.

#8 - Test Thoroughly

Testing is a vital part of any WMS implementation to identify and resolve any issues or bugs before the system goes live. With that in mind, test different scenarios, such as receiving, picking, inventory management, order fulfilment, and reporting. You should involve end-users in the testing phase to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments.

Consider a testing approach for users, integrations and performance, to ensure that all processes are tested to meet your requirements. You might also consider automated testing.

#9 - Provide Training and Offer Support

Your WMS will only ever be as good as those that know how to use it. That's why it's important to train all users who will interact with the WMS. They will need training on system functionalities, processes and best practices. Beyond any training, they will need ongoing support, including documentation, user manuals, and a helpdesk for addressing any questions or issues post-implementation.

#10 - Monitor, Evaluate and Optimise

Once your WMS is operational, you should monitor and evaluate its performance closely. You can track key metrics and analyse data to identify areas for improvement. Plus, you can leverage the system's reporting and analytics capabilities to gain additional insights and optimise your warehouse operations even further.

It's a good idea to continuously engage with end-users to gather feedback and make adjustments as needed. You should complete lessons learnt and ROI exercises to establish whether you achieved what you set out to achieve. If not, why not, and what's the plan moving forward?

By following these steps, you can increase the likelihood of a successful WMS implementation that enhances your warehouse operations and delivers the desired benefits.

Make your WMS implementation a success with a Blue Yonder WMS

Selecting and implementing a WMS can be daunting without support. Prime Horizon Group is an official Blue Yonder WMS implementation specialist. With consultants based in the UK, Europe and APAC, we can support you through the entire WMS implementation project cycle and beyond.

We're not only experienced in the functional and technical aspects of a WMS, but warehouse operations and processes. With 24-hour support, testing services, project management and WMS training, we provide everything you need to make your WMS implementation a success.

Call +44 (0)330 043 6407 or email to start your WMS implementation journey, today.

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