A basic guide to WMS user training

Although many folks assume that WMS systems are fairly straightforward, the more complexity associated with a system, the more training will be required by all involved. This is particularly true when the effort is being driven by a new, rather than an updated, warehouse management system.

Therefore, here are a number of elements to remember when you’re preparing for both an overall training program, along with setting up to train based on individual module breakout sessions.

Time is of the essence, but steady ahead is better

For some reason enterprises tend to try and cut their own throats when WMS user training is involved. Perhaps this has to do with the practical realities of implementing new software whilst dealing with a company’s workforce, or maybe it has more to do with pure cost factors; but in the end of the day many senior management cadres either try to speed through complex training regimes, or short-cut their way to completion.

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In either event, however, each of these decision tracks can lead to lost efficiency, money; and ultimately, lost enterprise performance that can end up being the beginning of a business death spiral starting from the warehouse up. The truth here is taking the right amount of time to ensure that everyone is comfortable before you spin a system up pays enormous dividends down the road. So do what is necessary the first time, and simply avoid the challenges associated with having to do it over.

Several small classes or one large lecture - all that counts is getting it right

This decision will always accrue to the subjective nature of each enterprise. However, in large degree, the structure and size of each training program be largely defined by the overall scale of the enterprise, the size of its WMS workforce, and how complex the particular system will be.

In the latter event, necessary functionality will apply as a critical element throughout, and the more functions the company desires, the longer and more granular training program. In the end of the day, then, if the target enterprise is a small operation, harboring minimal WMS functionality, a single ‘large venue’ program will apply nicely.

However, if the particular system is to be housed in a large-scale enterprise, with many moving parts to manage; then it’s likely that a single large cadre orientation, followed by a series subordinate breakout sessions will be preferable. Again, the goal is to get ‘it right’ the first time, so consider your own scale and systems complexity challenges before you establish your training regime.

Virtual versus face-to-face WMS training: the decision depends on scale   

Today’s global economy poses a number of challenges to WMS training cadres, and it largely accrues to enterprise scale. In larger enterprises, most companies operate off-shore (assuming that the company is headquartered in North America), and WMS systems integrate either as localized stand-alone modules that transact business and deliver necessary ERP records via periodic batch processing, or operate on the basis of peer-based communications in real-time.

In the former case, WMS training can be propagated from a headquarters, by either having remote WMS operators attend headquarters class sessions, or have the parent company send trainers to the local site. The ‘attend in person’ option offers a number of advantages, including an ability to allow remote folks an opportunity to ‘see and be seen’ by various bosses.

However, in particularly large companies, virtual education tends to be today’s trend for a host of reasons, but most importantly, cost; since trying to execute one or more WMS training rounds, associated with workforce cadres in 20 countries can create both logistical and cost problems to the parent company. Again, it all depends on how you scale your effort and how complex your WMS requirements are.

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton