Implementing a new WMS is a major undertaking, and you’ve spent countless hours ensuring everything fell into place and nothing blew up. Congratulations, the first hard part is over.
Now comes the second, and sometimes harder, part: figuring out if it was worth it. Determining that worth comes from a review of the system after implementation to see if it has been useful.
One of the most common things we think of to judge software success can actually be the most useless in terms of a WMS. There’s a big focus of “on-time” and “on-budget,” but these fail to capture long-term savings and promises of a strong WMS — especially if you’re moving from a manual process.
These two metrics just let you know about the time to get it live, not the success of the project itself.
So, it’s time to focus on a few of the specific things you can track and measure to determine implementation success. Give yourself and your team time to use the WMS so you can get your best measure about its viability in three chief areas.
Your Most Desirable Metrics Improve
When you chose your WMS and put an implementation plan together, you likely focused on some specific metrics, such as reducing pick and pack time, increased order accuracy, or better inventory reorders and forecasting.
Return to the baseline you set before the WMS was installed and see how you’re doing. This is your “just the facts, ma’am” review of the system. Get hard numbers and see if you’re improving where you expected, as well as in other areas.
If you’re reducing time or increasing efficiency and accuracy levels, then your implementation is an initial success. Be sure to come back to these over the next month, quarter, and year to ensure that things are still going well.
Multiple Groups Report an Easier Day
One top benefit of a robust WMS implementation is that it eases the task burden on many different departments.
Ask everyone who is touched by the transition how they feel about it. This is important because it helps you understand if it was a useful tool and it helps your employees feel like they are being heard.
Check with individuals who manage your purchase orders, work with clients when a return or replacement is needed, pick and pack on the warehouse floor, or those who generate your reports and forecasts. Ask about how the new system makes them feel. You can also get a handle on any training or refreshers needed because answers to this question usually include notes about frustration or confusion.
Successful implementation usually comes with improved quality control and task efficiency that people report as improved job satisfaction or reduced stress.
This is the “feeling” aspect of your implementation, and you want people to report that their work feels better — attitude can improve performance on its own, so this is important even if it seems a little fluffy.
Your Team Uses it a Month Later
The final piece to understanding success is if your team still uses the software after leadership stops watching so closely.
When your team feels like they can get back to work on their own, see if they keep using the new system or if they’re trying to find ways around it to go back to how things used to be.
A successful WMS is a helpful one. A poor implementation or selection will often lead to people finding ways not to use it. This is the simplest and most straightforward test, but it is likely the most important for determining long-term value.
If people aren’t using your new WMS after a few months, ask them why and see if you can improve or add new modules or train more. You want to achieve the gains it promised in ways that your staff will follow through on, so this touch base is a must.
This is a guest post from Explore WMS writer Geoff Whiting. Geoff is an experienced writer and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce implementation, and supply chain development. His work often delves into the latest automation capabilities and how it can improve companies as well as lead to more jobs in the market.