As Peoplevox’s Implementation Team Leader, I’ve overseen a lot of projects over the last few years.
Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) is a process that many Clients don’t arrive at with a complete understanding of exactly what’s going to happen, and why.
Something that should be the number one priority in any implementation process is testing. Testing is something which needs time to get right; time which people are often keen to hurry through in order to immediately experience all of the benefits of their new WMS.
When implementing a WMS, you’re most likely going to be working towards an immovable deadline. If you’re transferring from a 3PL, or you’re turning off your home-grown solution, the changeover needs to be completely seamless. Making sure that this is the case all comes down to leaving enough time for testing.
Testing warehouse software matters. This is why.
The majority of issues that happen at go-live are rooted in a lack of testing time. At that point, it’s far more difficult to unwind the problem than it would have been before the WMS was fully operational.
While we make implementing a WMS as easy as possible for our Customers, it’s still a big task. Everyone involved will agree that getting it right is mission critical; if there are any errors, it can result in mispicks, overselling or potential shutdowns. That’s why we strongly recommend plenty of time for testing.
Prioritise testing before any other WMS implementation steps
But enough of the doom and gloom. We’re positive people here. Instead of scaring you with some horror stories about testing going wrong, I’m going to share 6 of the main benefits that your business will see from leaving enough time for testing. These benefits aren’t just true for implementing a WMS, but for any major new pieces of software. Let’s go:
1. A stress-free go-live
This one sits at the top. The day when you turn on the switch should be a really good one. It should be the moment when you know that you’ve made a positive decision for your business and you’re about to see the results. Only one way to guarantee this: test everything ahead of time. Knowing that there aren’t any monsters hiding under your warehouse’s bed will help you to sleep at night, and to work with complete confidence in your new system.
2. Strong knowledge of the system and its features
When you’ve seen your new system thrive against every possible problem thrown at it, you don’t just walk away with an assurance that it works as it should. You also gain a deep, working knowledge of the system and all of its features. So if a particular need arises in the future, you’ll already know whether your existing systems have the capabilities to handle it before going on any new exploratory processes.
3. You'll be more used to the new system from an earlier stage
Testing gives the perfect launchpad for you and your team to hit the ground running. Cover all eventualities and there won’t be any questions left unanswered at go-live. Feeling more comfortable with your new software by spending more time with it will give you greater peace of mind.
4. You’ll know all integrations actually work well with each other
When you’re implementing a new piece of software, you’re very rarely just looking at the one system. You’re also looking at how it interacts and integrates with your other operational systems. These systems need to be able to communicate with each other effectively. They need to work perfectly together so that they can do their jobs to the fullest and your business is in the best possible position to scale.
5. You’ve demolished all of your issues
After a solid period of testing, you can stand proudly on go-live day feeling like Batman. Only better, because all of his problems and all of his enemies always end up coming back to haunt him and you know that yours won’t. If Batman did a better job of checking that the
Joker’s really gone for good, then he wouldn’t have to keep fighting him every other year.
When you do some thorough testing, you can easily identify your biggest enemies and banish them for good. No nasty surprises.
7. Be confident with any new processes
New technology means new ways of working. If you’re implementing a WMS from a point of working predominantly with manual methods before, you’re going to have to adapt. The good news is that the technology should be very easy to pick up. But by giving yourself a buffer to test it working in situ, you (and your staff) will have complete confidence to leave your old processes behind and embrace change.
Remember: implementing a new system is always going to bring about some changes. The bigger the system, the further reaching the changes. And these changes are for the good. You recognised issues in your company, you’ve invested in the right technology to help out. And, when everything’s properly tested, you’re ready to reap the rewards.
If you're looking to implement a WMS, it's important to be armed with as much knowledge as possible. That's why we've put together the WMS Buyers' Guide: it outlines the 11 key things that you should keep in mind when looking to invest in a WMS. Get your free copy here.