We recently published a couple of blog posts to help you identify your peak periods and prepare for them. The first step we recommended for preparation was to look at what happened last year. But how easy is it to do this? Does it rely on people’s memories of events or do you have all the information you need?
Here we overview some of the things you can measure and track this year to make the next peak period post-mortem that much easier, and maybe even prevent a few issues along the way.
Identify your tipping point
Is there a tipping point in your warehouse - that one extra order, delivery or employee calling in sick - that will tip you over the edge from having a calm, efficient warehouse to a stressed, reactive one?
Understanding what might trigger this is key to preventing it. Tracking the right things such as order volume compared with pick, despatch and error rates, will help you see when you are approaching your tipping point, or, if the worst happens, help you understand what it was that tipped you over so you can take steps to avoid it in the future.
This blog describes some of the things you could track.
Save your system reports
If you use a Warehouse Management System (WMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Content Management System (CMS) or other system to manage your warehouse and operations, many of the things you decide to track may be available via existing or customisable system reports.
The important thing to check here is if any of the reports or data you need are time sensitive.
For example, if you wish to track a particular metric such as number of outstanding orders at 4pm each day, does the system let you run a report showing this data whenever you want, or must you run the report at precisely 4pm each day? If the latter, make sure you have processes in place to run / save / export this report data at the appropriate times.
Consider timing of staff recruitment
Almost all businesses need extra staff to cope with peak periods, be it from reallocating or increasing the hours of existing staff, or, more commonly, from hiring temporary staff; and getting hold of the appropriate number and quality of staff at the right time can be one of the biggest challenges you face. Timing could be key here.
If you source extra hours from existing staff members, when do you let them know that extra shifts or a change in assignment might be an option or requirement for them? Recording these dates alongside the volunteer rate and morale of your employees over several peaks will help you determine the best time to broach this subject.
For agencies, key things to record could be the dates you approach them and the types of shift pattern offered, alongside the quantity and quality of staff they are subsequently able to supply.
Promotions and campaigns
It may appear as though promotions and campaigns are effective and driving sales, but does the data support this feeling? And did you get the most out of it? Making a note of exactly when a particular promotion started, ended and was advertised, in a way that will allow comparison with your operational metrics such as order volumes and picking / packing rates will help you understand the true impact of these campaigns.
But, of course, we don’t live in a perfectly controlled world, and sometimes even the best laid plans can be disrupted by things completely outside of our control. So when analysing the efficiency of any promotion or campaign, it is important to check for any other factors that may be affecting sales, as explained below.
Record the unexpected
You may have a wonderfully efficient warehouse, reliable suppliers, and a series of campaigns and promotions that are perfectly timed and have nailed their target market. But an unexpected snowfall or major motorway crash could have an impact that may or may not be immediately obvious.
Be sure to make a note of anything unusual or impactful that occurs during peak, so that when you come to review your performance you will be able to see if these incidents coincide with any of your unexpected peaks, troughs, issues or successes.
If you would like to talk to someone about what to keep an eye on during peak and how the Peoplevox WMS could help you do it, please get in touch.