Design for Operational Improvement o Design process or gap analysis where the business and operation requirements are matched up against the software package o What processes can be improved? o Tendency to hand the process design to the software vendor but the software vendor relies on the end-user company to define its needs. Vendor is competent in their software, not how the end-user warehouse functions.
Manage Risks o Planning, knowledge, preparedness, and communications o Impossible to eliminate all risks (human failings & unknown factors) o Complexity- complex processes involve more variables, which means more potential failure points.
Manage Communications and Expectations o Implementations can evoke uncertainty and anxiety. o Implementation must have top to bottom support throughout the entire organization. o Organization must have open channels of communication, which should start at the software selection process and should continue through go- live o Regular status meetings with key players involved in the project as well as warehouse personnel.
Develop a Solid Project Plan o End-user company should not rely solely on the vendor to develop and administer the project plan o End-user company must take ultimate ownership of the planning process and final ownership of the master project plan. o End-user company needs to take control of facilities preparation, equipment acquisition, acceptance testing and end- user training.
Prepare to Deal with Adversity o The success of an implementation depends on how well it responds to adversity (e.g., hardware failure, missed delivery dates, employees quit) o Must have a project plan with well-defined milestones and task to serve as the primary warning system that the project is in trouble. o Must have contingency plans that document the actions needed to respond to major problems and failure points. o Accept that uncertainty and problems are constant companions during most implementations
Pay Attention to Facilities Preparation o Installation of new material handling equipment, reconfiguring racks, labeling locations, re-warehousing product, etc. o These should not be considered secondary to software implementation
Build a Knowledge Base and Take Ownership o End-user company must meet the half way by learning enough about the package to ask intelligent questions during the implementation o End-user company must prepare to take ownership of the system after the vendor leaves o The ownership process should start after the contract is signed. Training courses and documentation should be developed and maintained by the end-user company. o Test & Training environments are essential to provide employees the opportunity to work with the software without impacting production.
Institutionalize Training o Most WMS vendors employ a “train the trainer” approach. Vendor trains key client personnel or “super users” on how to use the system to support their operation. o End-user company & “trainers” must train all warehouse personnel. o Effective training involves classroom instruction. Courses should be designed around specific job functions and utilize realistic, hands-on exercises.
Understand the Value of Testing o An end-user company that implements a base package without modifications must test to validate their setup and configuration o Testing helps validate that modifications, interfaces, configuration and base functions produce acceptable results and perform according to specifications o Create UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and integration test scripts. A script lists each step required to perform normal and exception activities.
Understand the Value of Testing o Integration scripts evaluate the touch points between related system routines o Stress test the system with production level processing loads. Volume testing can accomplished through automated testing tools or manually employing a significant number of testers to provide a near production transaction level.
Plan for Exceptions o Exception handling must be an integral part of the implementation. o Exception processing must be designed and tested from a systems and operational standpoint and incorporated into the training program. o Exception handling should be documented and targeted toward key users and supervisors who can instruct floor personnel how to resolve the situation.
Document Procedures o The limitations of training and vendor documentation should be rectified through the development of standard operation procedure (SOP) manuals. o SOPs describe the operational and systems steps involved in each job function. They should be tailored to the way a facility operates using terminology and examples that will be familiar to the organization.
Take Control of Go-Live o Problems and issues that surface at go-live must be dealt with promptly and effectively o Sufficient support personnel must be available during go-live week (or longer) to deal with any potential issues o Testing shakes out must bugs and system issues but that’s no guarantee that problems won’t surface at go-live