Companies that decide to modernize and improve their operational processes in the warehouse, through the implementation of the WMS system, often encounter a multitude of questions and unknowns when it comes to the implementation of the system itself.

The benefits or main features of WMS are generally known even before contacting the WMS software provider. However, the detailed process and duration of implementation, how to start, who are the people responsible for, and useful and practical tips for better preparation are often unknown.

To help you with this, we will try to answer all the questions related to the implementation of WMS, based on our many years of experience and numerous successful implementations.

To begin with, it is important to be aware that the WMS implementation is specific and has its own peculiarities.

Specifics of WMS system implementation

1. WMS software must successfully reconcile the physical, actual condition of warehouse buildings, inventory, items and workers with the logical operations of the software itself. If this part is not done properly, there may be difficulties in the work even after the implementation.

2. In many distribution centers, complex processes and operations have been established, with a large number of items circulating inside the warehouse but also entering and leaving the warehouse. All this needs to be harmonized via a single system.

3. There are often dependencies of one part of the system with another. For example, a slowdown in the picking process will cause a situation where the people packing the goods do not have enough work at that time, which causes unnecessary costs.

4. Human resistance to modernization frequently occurs. Until now, workers have worked by their “rules”, and any new change is undesirable. WMS introduces more or less strict rules and order, and workers realize this, but only after a certain amount of time. One should be ready to educate the workers.

Who is in charge of implementation?

In order to make the implementation as simple and fast as possible, it is important that the roles are defined in advance, both on the side of the WMS provider and on the client-side.

For providers, key roles are often the following:

–          Project Implementation Manager – the person in charge of the main contact by the WMS provider. He/she must be involved from the initial meetings when arranging the implementation, throughout the entire technical process of implementation, and be ready for support after a successful implementation. This has to be a person who has experience in at least a dozen successful implementations. This person answers all the client’s questions and comes to the client’s warehouse to give advice and answer specific questions. He or she often also performs initial education and training of warehouse managers and other warehouse workers on the use of the new application. Making sure that the project is managed according to the Project Task List and that each party performs its tasks is also another responsibility of the Project Implementation Manager.

–          Implementation Specialist – The person in charge of technical details about the implementation, who works on the harmonization and integration of the existing ERP solution, with the new WMS system, and conducts initial testing and validation of the program. It also provides support to the client and customer support within the warehouse. He or she is in charge of helping with the technical side of the implementation.

On the client-side, the most important person for a successful implementation is the warehouse manager. This person is the main point of contact between the WMS provider and all other internal participants. This is the person who is responsible for performing all tasks on the client-side and is in charge of communicating with the WMS service provider. Given the best knowledge of current processes in the warehouse, this person can ask the best questions and is committed to successful implementation and solutions that will be made just for the client. People from the sales and/or procurement department often appear on the client’s side, since they use an ERP solution on a daily basis.

Last, but not least, it’s very important that there is a common company wide agreement on implementing WMS, with strong support of C-level or directors. This is their main role – to promote implementation and to push when necessary.

How long does implementation on average take?

It is not easy to give an unambiguous answer to this question, given that the implementation depends on a number of factors, such as project complexity, the complexity of the warehouse processes and methods of required automation, and most importantly, the amount of resources that the client can allocate to the implementation project. The faster the service provider can get the information he needs, the faster individual problems are solved and the faster the process progresses.

According to our experiences so far, successful implementation takes 3 to 6 months. Of course, some of our existing clients have successfully completed the implementation of WMS in a shorter period of 3 months, but given the complexity of the project, this usually happens rarely.

Often on the client side there is a situation that the person in charge of leading the implementation does not have enough free time to fully deal with the implementation. This can result in breaking the originally agreed deadlines, or, worse, forcing implementation within the deadline but with insufficient preparation and training.

Precisely because of this, it is necessary to be aware of the complexity and honestly set deadlines, without unnecessarily rushing the project.

Useful tips for successful implementation: Tips and Tricks

–          During implementation, it is useful to keep a detailed list and status of the tasks for which both parties are in charge so that we can better monitor progress. Also, a detailed list of open questions is always welcome, so that everything can be cleared up before the go-live day.

–          It is always important to define one person on the client side who has the authority to make a decision and answer a question during testing.

–          We suggest that all types of documents that normally circulate within the ERP system and that handle goods be defined in advance so that the WMS can be set up as well as possible.

–          Before starting, it is useful to consult with the WMS provider about the layout of the warehouse and the position of the racks, and the marking of locations within the racks. This way, the WMS service provider can give useful advice before the warehouse is physically arranged.

–          It is often said that most problems after implementation come due to insufficient testing and employee education. Both sides in the process need to make an extra effort to get both done well.

We hope that with this we have answered many questions regarding the implementation and that things are much clearer now.

Aktiva Info has extensive experience in implementations in the region and is ready to answer all individual questions and give useful and concrete advice, from the initial meeting to efficient and fast customer support after a successful implementation. 

In case you’d like to find out more, contact us and we’ll provide you with our consultancy.