How to prepare for your first cloud WMS implementation

The promise of a cloud WMS is almost always increased efficiency, reduced cost, and a system that won’t take every minute of your IT team’s time. The best way to make those a reality is to plan and prep for implementation, making each successive step a little bit easier.

With the pace of technology and development, one nice piece of news is that much of the cloud and on-premise implementation process is the same. The differences are more focused on long-term elements such as updates.

That said, if this is your team’s first cloud system, you’ll want to work with them on the general technology as much as any specific WMS elements.

Here are a few important things to do and consider for implementing a new cloud WMS.

Regroup your team and set meetings

After you’ve secured your vendor and signed all the necessary paperwork to get your system started, it’s time to reconvene your team and build out a meeting schedule that works for everyone. Plan to set aside time specific to your leaders and to have them plan out meeting and training time for the entire staff.

Initial meetings are designed to look for project gaps or areas where you might need to do the heavy lifting, either asking for elements in the WMS or figuring out the best way to add it to your workflow.

Use this WMS implementation checklist to get your team ready for implementation success

Review your processes and create documentation for those workflows as well as what tools you might need to verify along the way, such as datasets and analytics programs.

Build a configuration plan

After meetings, it’s time to get your hands dirty. A cloud WMS typically has fewer infrastructure requirements than an on-premise option, but you still need to verify that you can support what you need manually.

You’ll need to construct a virtualized environment and get your IT team to verify that everything is operating correctly. Part of their planning must also be to put together a plan for keeping up with the lifecycle of the software and verifying elements like updates.

Be sure that you’ve got some warehouse staff on hand too, so they can direct some of the efforts and hear what data needs to be collected before implementation, such as SKUs, product sizes, and equipment.  

Test and train until you dream about it

No matter what system you select, it won’t do you any good unless it operates correctly, and your team knows how to use it effectively. Train until they do. Don’t expect that your team will be able to learn the system as they need it — this is more likely to cause them to figure out ways around your new, expensive WMS.

WMS training is best when you have plenty of time and run through the situations your team will face. Include a variety of trial runs with everyone to make sure each person knows their role and understands where handoffs exist in the system.

If you see training screens and test reports when you close your eyes, you’re getting close to having done enough.

Review roles with everyone

If your team is new to a cloud environment, there are going to be a variety of novel needs and potential disruptions that they may face. Testing and training will address most of these, but anyone who has worked with computers for long enough knows that unplanned problems have a way of cascading through everything.

So, we recommend giving your team a quick recap outside of their own training that shows who will get the same information they do as well as who is responsible for which other aspects of your platform. It’s a smart way to get everyone on the same page and determine what you need to address issues.

For example, does your team on the floor have the phone number of IT to reach out when the wireless network goes down? Can your new WMS work in an offline mode to avoid this disruption — and if so, what’s the chain of information from warehouse staff up through whoever resolves the issue and whoever reviews data to make sure it all worked properly?

Review roles and responsibilities so your team can handle situations that are bound to crop up but aren’t an immediate fire.

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting

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