How to create your perfect WMS selection team

Choosing the perfect WMS selection team is not an impossible task if you follow three basic rules:

  1. Make sure that team members are high performers with proven track records. 
  2. Pick a strong team leader with a reputation for refusing to fail
  3. Strive for diversity in assembling your team

A good WMS selection team should be between 4 – 7 people, including the team lead (this number does not include a purchasing professional which every team should have). Ideally, half of the selection team should be IT professionals, and half warehouse professionals.

Building a strong WMS knowledge base

Within the IT professionals you choose for your WMS selection team, you would like a sound knowledge of inventory control transactions, scanning technology, the shipping transactional process, document creation and associated technologies, and label printing. Other “nice to have” IT skills include knowledge of EDI, web interfaces, finance, interfaces with other software, and a knowledge of warehouse IT problems.  

Guide: WMS selection checklist - over 100 steps to WMS selection success

For the warehouse representatives, you want deep understanding of inventory movements, inventory control, yield loss, how pick lists are created and executed, and how shipments are built and verified.  “Nice to have” warehouse skills include costing, seasonality, metrics, and product line diversity.

The role of the team leader

The single most important task of the team leader is to rapidly build team trust.  If team members trust each other, then the team will spend its intellectual energy challenging ideas and improving on teammates’ ideas.  The second critical attribute for the team lead is that he or she has to have good business judgment and a realistic grasp of the solution space.

A good team leader listens and weighs all team members’ input, and strives constantly to build consensus, but ultimately understands that the team does not function as democracy, and hard decisions have to be made. A final characteristic that a team lead must possess is the willingness to make every decision transparent to the organization and to be able to explain each decision with compelling facts.

The importance of diversity

Every organic entity – whether an ecosystem, a business organization, or a work team – achieves the best long term results when diversity is a key element of the population.  Assembling a diverse team does not simply mean people who are different from each other.  The diversity you are looking for in a selection team means that team members: (1) have different areas of expertise (2) have a history/reputation for challenging ideas and striving for excellence and (3) have demonstrated that they are capable of changing opinions in the face of compelling evidence rather than remaining obstinately committed to an intractable position.

Building the perfect WMS selection team is possible.  If you assemble a group of high performing people and assign them an important task, they will almost always achieve good results. The biggest hurdle is often that high performers aren’t made available to be part of the team.  Instead of the BB players (best and brightest), only AA individuals (average and available) are permitted to participate.  

This, however, is a different problem.  Construct your ideal WMS selection team first, and then deal with compromise if you have to.

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Shane Starr

About the author…

Shane Starr is a former ERP project manager, with business experience in manufacturing management, supply chain, finance, and strategic planning.

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Shane Starr

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