There are many pitfalls and obstacles on the road to success.
As with all software installation projects, several factors contribute to a successful implementation. We have selected 9 that we believe are key to your success.
1 – A short project with an imposed rhythm
There is nothing more slippery than a project that is spread out over several months, which demotivates the teams and makes them lose sight of the objective.
On the other hand, a short project will require the ability to keep up the pace of workshops, individual preparation times, progress points…. while you also have to carry out daily tasks.
The key is to include all of this workload in your schedule from the start, but also in the schedule of the teams, at least the “hard core” of the project, even if it means moving a few dates later.
2 – Availability of the “core” project team
It is common to say this, but the time required to integrate a WMS should not be overlooked, especially when it is the first time (see paragraph “What internal resources should I plan for?”).
As you know, it is usual to take a ratio of “one to one”, between the days to be spent by a project manager on the customer side and the integrator side, and a ratio of “1 to 0.5” for each member of the project team!
In any case, an integrator must be able to provide you with these elements before the start of a project so that this temporary “disorganization” can be anticipated, for example, during a slower period of activity in the year.
3 – Integrate the concepts governing the WMS you have chosen
This is important in order to be sufficiently autonomous on the day in case of unforeseen events, and afterwards when it comes to changing practices. A WMS includes thousands of algorithms that respond to rules that are themselves based on a conceptual data model. It is important to understand, without being a specialist, the main concepts behind it:
It is therefore important to understand how your logistics business will be transposed into the operating concepts of the WMS.
At SITACI, we propose a progressive increase in competence via a support on our WMS EGO thanks to a simplified “school” base which, certainly, will not correspond to your type of logistics, but which will have the merit of touching these concepts with the fingers and to gain in autonomy.
The quality of the documentation provided during the implementation of the WMS, the training materials and the online help also contribute to anchoring this knowledge. As such, SITACI is Qualiopi certified for these training processes.
4 – Know how to position the cursor at the right place between :
Very often, the expertise in logistics of your WMS integrator is essential. Indeed, its experience plays in this position of cursor, but not only.
A good integrator will also have taken care to collect quantitative data (when available and of good quality), for example, on your purchase and sales orders or on your produced bills of material.
With these elements added to a well thought-out questionnaire that he will have given you beforehand, he will be able to “advise” you on the right position of this cursor, the right compromise between risks and benefits, and this by objectifying it with a few well-felt analyses and ratios.
5 – Sufficiently integrate internal business experts (the Key Users) and get them on board.
It is already important to know that a WMS will change the daily life of the teams in the field. Nothing will be the same as before: more mobility, less stress, more efficiency.
The changes are often dizzying and for nothing in the world, a warehouse worker or a picker will want to “go back”.
On the one hand, it will be necessary to ensure that the hard core (the project team) that will be chosen to define the functioning of the future WMS is sufficiently familiar with the subtleties of each of the company’s businesses, but also to deal with the future users (both with “old-timers”, who are difficult to change in their habits, and with young people with a zapping profile).
It should be noted that this will require tools such as HFT (high frequency terminals) to be very easy to use.
6 – Collect the data that will be injected with knowledge.
A good understanding of the concepts behind a WMS (point 3) and of the functionalities that will be implemented and their impact on the organization (point 4) must allow for an efficient collection of relevant data. This means that we are fully aware of what is at stake behind the data that will be injected. It also means that we know how to prioritize the time investment to be spent on it.
7 – Practice the solution in detail until D-day.
A common bias is to confuse “I got it” with “I know how to do it”! In logistics, the devil is in the detail. Starting up a WMS must not leave room for improvisation on D-day. It is therefore important to have spent a significant amount of time with the business teams to be trained, of course, but also to practice (which obviously presupposes that we have avoided keeping the competence in mastering the tool within the project team without extending it to the “business”). If you don’t practice, you run the risk of quickly finding yourself helpless when you turn the WMS start-up key. The slightest pebble in the mechanism could jam the system and the snowball effect would be unforgiving. Therefore, practicing the solution means carrying out all the scenarios (called business scenarios) “in the room”: practicing again and again.
8 – Plan the last steps before the countdown
Implement your inventory strategy, anticipate the labeling load of products, containers or stock locations. The WMS often offers a function for editing “by the mile” all the labels you will need for this purpose thanks to an associated generator.
In addition, think about informing your customers, strategic suppliers, goods suppliers and transporters of the “small inconveniences” that may occur during the first hours of a new WMS start-up, so that they will be understanding, but also so that they will see their interest.
Negotiate with them the possibility of lightening the activities during the start-up week: anticipate or postpone for example goods receipts or order shipments, inflate if possible the stocks.
Train the rest of the users (End Users) a few days before the start-up, not too early because the knowledge will be lost, not too late either in order to keep a maximum of serenity on D-day. Finally, do not neglect small details such as having enough consumables for the printers or sufficiently charged portable equipment.
9 – Finally, stabilize the operation as quickly as possible
Stabilizing is already making sure that bad habits don’t come back to haunt you. This means making sure, through regular exchanges with the End Users, that they adhere to the procedures and that the teams respect them.
It also means “not succumbing to the temptation” to do things the same way as in the past without taking advantage of new functionalities (for example, to make an inventory).
Finally, stabilizing the operation means removing the last pebbles in the shoe by identifying problems that were not anticipated during the practical phases of the solution, the necessary adaptations and the small improvements that will put some butter in the spinach.