First Line Software is a premier provider of software engineering, software enablement, and digital transformation services. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the global staff of 450 technical experts serve clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Launching a new warehouse management system (WMS) presents enough challenges as it is, and yet there’s a new wrinkle. With the pandemic, companies must now rely on their implementation partner to run the entire process remotely.
Imagine sitting on Zoom meetings or chatting via Slack to meet and greet, discuss requirements, and share the most critical details of your warehouse intralogistics. Yet, remote collaboration and communication introduce the flexibility of shorter, more frequent meetings. Company stakeholders and the implementation partner team no longer have to block an entire day or days for meetings to launch the project and share warehouse management details. It’s also easier to schedule check-ins throughout the project. There’s a reduction in travel costs and time that would previously have been spent traveling is focused on getting actual work done.
On the downside, the implementation partner loses the opportunity to observe business processes in person and speak with other internal experts to gain valuable insights. Being present on-site also improves the likelihood of stakeholder participation which is critical for complex implementations. Let’s look at how one implementation partner overcame the challenges of managing remote Warehouse Management System implementations.
Making Remote Warehouse Management System Implementation Work
Early in 2020 and prior to the pandemic, First Line Software had already decided it was time for a change and started testing a remote approach to WMS implementations. While certain modifications were necessary, the team used communication and collaboration technology tools such as Zoom and Slack to mirror on-site methodologies and processes overall.
One key to success is asking the right questions. Ensuring the client shares critical nuances of their warehouse processes is essential for defining all requirements and creating the TO-BE document. For example, asking how many pallet sizes they use, how many there are of each, and where they are stored all impact WMS configuration. The team adapted their process of collecting requirements in-person to ensure an even more thorough process during online meetings.
Once First Line Software configures the WMS model they schedule a virtual demo of how the system works – prior to training and launch. The customer observes how the system runs through the business processes and confirms it meets their requirements. Next First Line prepares two detailed reference documents to guide the step-by-step process the client will follow to launch the WMS remotely and shares them for review and approval.
Remote warehouse staff training must be dynamic and engaging. First Line augmented its computer simulation training to include the customer’s senior managers demonstrating how the actual system functioned. Taking this approach resulted in the staff actively participating and asking questions.
Launching the warehouse management system is the final stage and the most challenging to complete without being on-site. First Line uses the live feed from a video surveillance system to observe the newly launched WMS performance and address any issues in real-time.
While there are challenges associated with launching WMSs remotely, First Line Software applies lessons learned and best practices to continuously refine its processes for efficient and seamless future implementations.