As we consult with ecommerce and multichannel businesses on implementing Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), we see several reasons why they often take longer, exceed budget and cause management headaches. Here are four main culprits:

  • The implementation is planned at the same time as the opening of a new facility.
    Even if the opening is delayed and thus holds up implementation, management may not allow the WMS go live date to be moved back.
  • Inadequate testing with the WMS and automation, conveyance systems and technology like voice picking.
  • Insufficient associate training that allows little time for them to operate the system before being thrown into a live production environment.
  • Assuming inventory is accurate, and no physical count is taken prior to go live. The system’s credibility is questioned when inventory problems are identified.

These 9 considerations need to be part of your WMS project planning and a readiness assessment prior to go live.

Minimize Modifications

Do everything you can to minimize modifications. Many WMS are now in use in hundreds to thousands of ecommerce instances and companies should be able to implement out of the box in 90%-95% of cases. Configuration and setup routines will allow adaption to your company environment. Implementing with minimal modification reduces cost, timeframe, testing and risk.

The WMS setup may need tweaking to accommodate both B2B and B2C, store replenishment and ship from store. These environments are much more complex and may require modifications and much more testing.

Some larger operations may have a significant percentage of orders requiring value-added services, meaning orders are sent to in-house departments or external vendors and then back to shipping.

Testing

In IT testing, companies often set up multiple instances of the WMS, i.e. copies for different uses. Some may have one for training and testing and another for production; others will have three for the same functions. Testing instances will always be needed as new releases are pushed out.

All testing of modifications needs to be done first by IT and then by department management and users. Even if there are no modifications you still need to test interfaces to order management, shipping and manifesting, labor…