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WMS - good to the last byte...

By Steve Simmerman | 07/09/2010 | 9:45 AM

We started this blog series a few weeks ago talking about how organizations can make sure their WMS is ‘good to the last byte’, and how some do.  We talked about the importance of several key factors in extending the useful life of your WMS including:


  • People – encouraging you to assess your WMS team (users, IT, vendor) and make sure that proper training has occurred over the years to ensure:
    • Proper knowledge transfer so you are not caught short one day if and when you need your “WMS gurus” to bail you out of a sticky situation, or to make significant improvements in the WMS to meet changing business requirements; and that all of your managers, supervisors and associates are properly trained in best practices as it relates to your process flows.  If not, you could be wasting precious labor resources and money.
  • Process – challenging you to create, review, and update current business process flows and check to see if on-the-floor operations match your documented flows and whether the WMS informational flows match as well.  We believe there is a significant opportunity for improvement and savings by continuing to synchronize these components of your operation and WMS.
  • Technology – asking you if you have done a proper technology risk assessment lately.  Are your database and operating system within striking distance of the latest supported version?  How about your WMS itself…have you kept current with new releases/patches?  What would it really take to restore your WMS in the event of a catastrophic hardware or software failure?  Clearly, BP did not think that they would have an oil leak, or that it would take 70+ days to stop an oil leak?  What is your real exposure?  Have you created, communicated, trained and tested your disaster recovery plan?


We recognized in our initial blog in this series, that everyone is trying to do more with less in this economy, and extending the useful life of a WMS is one of the things we see more and more companies doing these days.  Following some of the guidance we have offered could help you extend the life of your WMS for another year or more. 


On the flip side, we know that there are experienced consulting services available aimed at helping you achieve even greater value from your existing WMS, and to define requirements, select and implement a new WMS to accomplish even more for your company.


If you’ve done all of these things, and finally reached the end of the road with your WMS, the good news is that the latest generation WMS solutions in the market today are generally 2nd or 3rd generation technology built by people with tremendous WMS experience.  The result – you can count on better technology, better configuration tools like integrated workflow, web-based/on-demand architecture all designed to give you greater WMS capabilities at a lower total cost of ownership than previous WMS solutions.


As my co-contributor, Don Benson, www.wmsupport.com, points out:  The power of a WMS is not to turn it on and forget it.  The true power of a WMS is acting as a foundation for continuous improvement”.  Thus we are all challenged to keep our people, our processes and technology current in the pursuit of continuous improvement. 


We have enjoyed interacting with several of the DC Velocity readers throughout this blog series, and hope that we have encouraged you to pursue a few of the ideas we have suggested in order to keep your WMS good to the last byte.

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About Steve Simmerman

Steve Simmerman

Steve Simmerman is a Senior Director with JDA. Simmerman has more than 25 years of experience in the supply chain industry including software, consulting and material handling. He has focused his efforts on working with clients to achieve high performance supply chain results through partnerships and creative solutions. He is a member of CSCMP, WERC, and MHIA and is a regular contributor to several industry publications and events. Simmerman holds his undergraduate and MBA degrees from The University of Notre Dame.


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