The evidence supporting the switch to warehouse management software from a paper-based process is undeniable. But one common concern many businesses have with choosing a WMS is how long it will take to implement. And since time is money in logistics, every minute of downtime makes a difference.
A SaaS WMS solution offers all of the same benefits of a traditional WMS, but with no servers to configure and no operating systems to worry about, implementation is typically much quicker. In addition, a rules based system like the Snapfulfil Cloud WMS is super quick to configure with a delivery method based on how to use the system, rather than how the system works.
This lets companies focus on how to best optimize their internal processes, rather than having to worry about the technical aspects of an implementation. The WMS implementation should be an opportunity to learn and grow as an organization, and this requires a holistic approach to the setup period.
As explained in a DC Velocity column, a winning logistics systems implementation depends on the company's ability to take full advantage of the system's new capabilities, and change old habits rather than letting them persist. This requires commitment from all levels of the organization, from the project manager and executive stakeholders down to floor staff members. When done well, a WMS implementation is a fantastic learning experience for a warehouse organization, and may contribute to overall success just as much as the new system itself.
Easy implementation of a SaaS WMS means warehouses get up and running faster, and subsequently perform better, ultimately reducing operating costs.
Essential implementation steps
Like any other major business transition, having a strong yet flexible plan in place beforehand can prevent or mitigate most risks and issues that tend to creep up during the implementation process.
- Initial planning: As ExploreWMS pointed out, it's crucial that warehouse managers first understand what specific benefits they are planning to see after implementation. These goals should be outlined up front, and positioned in a way that maximizes the business's competitive edge.
- Support systems: Without the right hardware or organization in place, implementation will barely get off the ground. Choosing a cloud WMS that is broadly compatible with any internet-enabled PC is an obvious way to prevent these issues. It may also be worthwhile to check equipment like scanners and update them if needed.
- SKUs and mapping: A Tier 1 WMS will use predefined rules to determine the optimum workflow for inventory, equipment and staff. This means item information like SKUs and dimensions will have to be entered into the system.
- Staff training: A new WMS is no good without a capable staff to use it efficiently. Even with the most intuitive software, it's unwise to assume workers will simply learn on the job. Have a formal training plan in place and conduct several trial runs with the new WMS if possible.
- Testing and trial runs: With everything else in place, the WMS should be tested with at least one full fledged trial run to ensure everything is working as it should be. Warehouse managers should do their best to create a realistic scenario in which staff and systems are stretched to their limits, and then see where gaps exist in implementation or training.
Cloud implementation benefits
Many of these steps become much easier when the WMS is operating in a cloud environment. With no software to install and no specialized hardware to configure, a SaaS WMS comes out ahead of alternative solutions from the very beginning. Once the system is fully implemented - a process that can take less than eight weeks - configuration and day-to-day use is often much more intuitive. This all adds up to better warehouse performance and lower operating costs in the long run.