How to survive your WMS go-live

Regardless of how much preparatory work you do, there’s always a bit of stress associated with the cut-over and launch of a new WMS system. Part of this has to do with the general fear of the unknown, and some of it has to do with more commercial concerns such as whether a new system do what it’s supposed to do for your business.

Either way, tension and discomfort comes will always accompany a WMS implementation. That said, there are some things that can be done to reduce a bit of the concern involved including, but not limited to, the following steps.

Prepare a detailed cut-over/launch plan

As mentioned above, fear of the unknown is an intrinsic part of any go live evolution. Consequently, rather than operating on the basis of conjecture and assumption, it’s better to work from a finite and measurable plan that everyone can poke holes in prior to going live. Once this process is complete, and everyone has signed-on appropriately, things usually work much better and your WMS go-live will go much more smoothly. Here are some of the elements that should be included in a useful plan:

  • Review and refine all previous test results:
  • Network: Validate devices, connectivity, and applied security systems
  • Hardware: computers, monitors, navigational devices cables, printers, scanners, servers, universal power supply (UPS), storage, back-up servers
  • Interfaces: validate module hooks, handles, datastores, datacenter connectivity
  • Software: Unit testing ensuring that all system modules are complete for; Screens, Templates, Reports, Misc. 
  • Review previous results of practical systems test sessions, thereby validating accurate data passage from one function to another including; Tasks, Ordering, Transactions, Backup schedules, Validation of end-to-end workflows and process improvements, Ensure that workflows and processes are documented and applied accordingly, Issue formal staff certificates for training compliance, Validate sign offs for each workflow and process map
  • Review systems policies with key stakeholders and reaffirm systems sign-on.  

Ensure your WMS go-live goes to plan using this comprehensive guide to WMS implementation success

Ensure that partner, operational, and support resources are available

This might be an obvious plan task, but you’d be amazed by how many enterprise folks forget resourcing when it is time to turn the lights on. In the event, plan for more, not fewer, involved since in the case of a new WMS everyone is going to be impacted one way or the other. So, be heads up and resource up accordingly.

Execute a formal launch/cut-over meeting

This is a useful bit of tasking oriented to ensuring that everyone who is directly involved in the launch is on the same page, at the same time, utilizing the right tools.

Formal sign-off

A bit of traditional pomp and circumstance serves as a final ‘ready, aim, fire’ announcement for your WMS go-live. Its approach is also applied as a team building element since one the formal, and public sign on is complete the die is cast, as it were.

Execute the launch/cut-over

  • Review resources scheduling
  • Initiate the cut-over
  • Super-user and/or vendor representatives supervise the process
  • Establish mid-morning and mid-afternoon check-ins
  • Establish and evaluate first day progress, execute support or refinement elements as necessary
  • Review and validate user load reports
  • Validate training standards
  • Refresh training as necessary
  • Establish and monitor launch abort milestones
  • Establish subordinate recovery plan if the launch aborts
  • Prepare paper processing, or backup implementations if the launch aborts
  • Identify situations or points where go-live needs to be stopped

Monitor first day stability

Assuming that the first day process operates nominally, prepare a lessons-learned report.

Finally, this task list only represents a tiny fraction when it comes to completing and executing a full-formed WMS go-live, but its granularly should help you fathom the kinds of things are necessary to pull off a successful implementation.

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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