How to test your WMS data before go-live
Every robust WMS implementation process involves testing, but much of this happens in controlled environments. To make sure your system will work as you need, you’ve got to run tests with your own software and data.
Testing with real information your warehouse needs— plus getting it from the real systems you use — can point out areas where things aren’t performing correctly, or there is needed functionality that you missed during your WMS selection process.
Let’s look at four critical areas of WMS data and their testing before you go live with your WMS.
Integrations with automation and equipment
Think about where your data originates during an order. In many cases, you’ve got multiple points of entry, likely starting with a CRM or ecommerce platform. Order management tools send your WMS specific information that it must process correctly to move you to the next stage.
In a virtual environment or a controlled real-life test, generate a test order and all of the associated data you need. Whenever the system requires additional inputs, go to your integrated platform, and create each as needed. See what is connected properly and where you might have a gap.
Don’t neglect any part of the process. You might need to consider materials-handling equipment, labor or workforce tools, and the EDIs that manage all of this data. Also, review how it handles backup data usage and storage.
Access to the WMS on your mobile devices
In line with the integration testing, it can be a considerable time and cost-saver when you test all of the WMS access points your team will need to use. Don’t just look at general WMS access from a central PC.
Think about the dashboards that leadership needs to access and whether they pull those up from a specific computer or if they use tablets like iPads.
At the same time, your warehouse staff will have a wide range of interaction points that all should be tested thoroughly. Your handhelds will likely be reviewed when you test the order process for integration, but it’s still important to work on each platform and review every event.
What happens when an exception is found in an order during pick, pack, or audit? Should the WMS respond differently with the action it takes based on these stages, and does it successfully differentiate? Does it understand the difference between your team scanning products for picking on a cart versus picking pallet via a forklift?
Typically, warehouses get faster when they adopt better picking tech. Verify that your WMS works with what you have now and can support what you want to use in the future.
Resupplies and order interruptions
Pilot test the big picture too. Drop your virtual inventory levels to their low threshold and generate a few orders. Watch how your WMS handles these events to see if it is properly running replenishment activities.
Cancel an order mid-pick and look for how the WMS handles this inventory. Does it understand what happens and that your total inventory count should be raised? Does it have a clear path for your team to follow to get this inventory back onto shelves and ready for use?
Ask your warehouse team about the strangest cases they’ve come across in the warehouse and then create this scenario in your testing environment. It’ll save you time when it counts the most.
Don’t forget your industry
One last piece of advice is that you’ll want to consider any specialty requirements that you face because of your industry, products, or partners. In a very broad sense, this will often be food and drug-related storage, shipping, and other requirements. Your WMS needs to track these elements accurately, and you’ll want to ensure that its reporting tools are working correctly before you go live.
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