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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Wright

6 Things to Consider Before Diving into a Warehouse Management System (WMS)

Implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is integral to any business that operates a warehouse or distribution center and manages inventory. Like an ERP system, WMS's help streamline operations by increasing efficiency, accuracy and order fulfillment. Before diving headfirst into a shiny new WMS, it’s important to prepare your space, your employees and your expectations. Here are 6 important factors businesses should consider before implementing a WMS.

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Use these guidelines as a starting point to get your business prepared for a new WMS implementation.

1. Warehouse Process Review

Perform a thorough review of all warehouse operations and business processes. Understand your current workflow, pain points and areas that need improvement, paying special attention to processes where practice and theory don’t align. Identify the specific challenges the WMS should address and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to enhance through the implementation. Involve all key stakeholders – no one will know the day-to-day details better than those in these roles. This analysis will serve as the foundation for selecting the right WMS and tailoring it to your needs.

2. Software Evaluation and Selection

Research and evaluate various WMS software options available in the market. Consider factors such as scalability, integration capabilities with your existing systems (eg. SYSPRO ERP), ease of use, customer support and the vendor's reputation. Get input from stakeholders across different departments to ensure the selected WMS aligns with the entire organization's needs. Involving your ERP partner in the evaluation and selection process is essential to ensuring the WMS and ERP system will integrate seamlessly.

3. Clearly Define Your Requirements

Define a clear project scope and outline the objectives you aim to achieve with the WMS implementation. Set realistic timelines and milestones to keep the project on track. Involve key stakeholders including warehouse staff, IT team and management, to ensure everyone is aligned on the project's goals and expectations. Know what you want before you start. Once the groundwork starts, it becomes more and more difficult to change your process as you move along the project path.

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4. Prepare Your Data and Your Warehouse

Prepare your existing data related to inventory, warehouses, bins, purchase orders and sales orders. Ensure data accuracy and consistency before implementing a new WMS. This step is crucial to avoid data discrepancies and ensure a seamless transition from an existing WMS or paper-based process to the new system. It's also an excellent opportunity to clean your data and eliminate any unnecessary information. On top of the digital information, you need to clean; it’s equally important to prepare your physical space for a WMS. Most WMS will require barcode labels for most efficient use. Preparing bin sequences, product barcodes and a labeling solution will help ensure a successful implementation.

5. Training and Change Management

Prepare your warehouse staff for the upcoming changes by providing proper training on the new system using the new processes. Address any concerns that may arise during the training. Always remember that a process may not be done the way it says on paper. If there is going to be significant change, it is important that users feel comfortable and understand the reasons for the change and how the business and the employees will benefit.

warehouse worker scanning a box in a warehouse

6. Testing

Testing the new WMS before going live is essential. This can help you identify any potential issues, fine-tune the system and gather feedback from end-users before implementation. Everything is harder to fix in production, so stress-test any new system thoroughly.

There are other considerations with every new system but using these guidelines as a starting point will get your business into a great position to implement a new Warehouse Management System that aligns with your operational needs. The Umbrella Consulting team can assist in helping you make a well-informed decision about choosing a WMS that’s the right fit for your business. We provide end-to-end implementation services including discovery, process review, evaluation and selection, project management, implementation and support.

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About the Author

Jeremy Wright, Technical Director, has 12+ years of SYSPRO experience and is our in-house WMS and riteSCAN expert. He has successfully implemented WMS at 15+ unique warehouse environments, including all necessary barcoding, scanning, bins, label printing and customizations to streamline their processes. Jeremy has a thorough knowledge of SYSPRO, both functional and technical, specializing in distribution, manufacturing, SQL and customizations.

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