Unlocking Efficiency: A Guide To Selecting And Implementing A Warehouse Management System

Unlocking efficiency: A guide to selecting and implementing a Warehouse Management System

Learn where to start and how to enable significant operational benefit with the right WMS.

Written by

TMX Team

Published

5 June 2024

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Supply leaders are hard-pressed to improve risk management, optimize networks, and cut costs, while driving business growth.

The right Warehouse Management System (WMS) can help manage some of these priorities by allowing for smarter, more integrated, end-to-end supply chain visibility, powering informed decisions, and building a resilient network.

We sat down with TMX Supply Chain Manager, Daniel Clutterbuck, to discuss the process and challenges of finding and implementing the right WMS, “the process can be difficult and could potentially cripple your business execution capability, if not done correctly.”

Learn where to start and how to enable significant operational benefit with the right WMS.

What is a WMS & when do you need one?

The right WMS is a powerful business tool, offering a complete view of inventory and logistics operations throughout the warehouse lifecycle. Not only can it optimize workforce, space, and equipment investments, but it can also streamline resource management and material flow.

While this may be the case, Daniel highlighted that, “many businesses still use legacy systems that are unable to meet future technical or functional performance needs and lack adaptability.” With customer demands ever evolving, your business will struggle to grow without efficient supply chain operations – which is why considering a WMS upgrade or replacement could be useful.

Where do you start?

Firstly, a clear understanding of your business processes, objectives, and future-state is required, allowing you to develop specific needs and highlight functional flows, data, and integration to potential vendors – this will help you establish potential partners and associated costs.

Always remember that vendor/WMS selection is more than just functionality and price. Other key considerations are:

  • Strategic alignment
  • Proven history of successful deployments
  • Project Management and ways of working alignment
  • Resourcing experience and availability
  • Post-go-live support
  • Ongoing account management

WMS selection and implementation should be looked at as a partnership and not as a transactional relationship if you wish to maximize benefit from the solution in the long run.

Ensuring success
  1. Know your requirements: Understand your detailed requirements prior to vendor engagement.
  2. Stakeholder engagement: Involve key operational staff early in the selection, design, and testing phases to address their concerns and foster buy-in.
  3. Clear communication: Establish open communication channels, with regular meetings and workshops to ensure shared understanding during design and implementation.
  4. Don’t let poor implementation get in the way: “You don't have to dig too deeply to uncover horror stories of WMS implementations, with the associated cost and reputation impacts being felt long-term,” Daniel noted, having seen many implementations over his 22 years in the supply chain industry. Challenges resulting in poor WMS implementation range from an imbalance between IT and operational input to a lack of operational maturity. By aligning business requirements, the full benefits of a WMS will be uncovered.
  5. Strong project management: Appoint a Project Manager or SME with cross-functional expertise to oversee communication, review design specifications, and ensure project deliverables.
  6. Ongoing reporting and communications: Ensure all involved remain updated on progress once the WMS has been implemented – highlight the value, efficiencies, and challenges, creating a clear feedback loop.
How can it help you?

1. Cost reduction

A successful WMS implementation can reduce internal IT costs through reduced administration resources and infrastructure spend.

2. Warehouse transformation

A WMS may form a basis for enablement of larger warehouse transformation projects, such as automation.

3. Safety

Ensure adherence to safety and legal requirements within the warehouse and for the transportation of goods.

4. Increased visibility and efficiency

A WMS will enable greater visibility and accuracy of inventory and operator level performance, creating overall efficiency through applying appropriate methodologies based on order profiles and customer requirements.

5. Improve employee retention

A modern WMS can implement modern user interfaces and gamification of tasks, increasing employee satisfaction and thus, retention.

Undertaking a WMS selection and implementation project with the respect it deserves, delivers real benefit for your organization - identifying and eliminating wasteful processes along the way. A properly designed and implemented WMS will ensure a solid platform to support your future growth and while allowing for adaptability, building a resilient supply chain. 

Find out more about our supply chain offerings here.

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