Successful WMS Go-Lives: The Keys to Surviving and Thriving

Your software has been deployed and now it’s time to go live. This is where all the anticipation comes to a head. It’s where having a trusted software partner beside you through the process can make the experience smooth so that you survive and even thrive, taking your organization to new heights. Everyone wants successful WMS go-lives, right? To ensure that success, the details involved in a go-live experience must be attended to or time will be wasted and there will be more than a few bumps in the road.

In order to avoid stumbling out of the blocks, take a breath and assess the details. There are plenty to consider. For instance,

  • How will your sales orders and inventory transfer from the old system to the new?
  • How will your new racking labels work?
  • How will people sign onto the system or set up passwords?
  • How will your various locations be accommodated?

Before you hit the “go” button, having answers to these types of questions will ensure a smooth ride out of the gates.

Draw Up a Checklist

Checklists are the best way to ensure nothing is overlooked. Nothing is more important than ensuring that your data is ready for take-off. Bad data in means bad results coming out. Make sure your data, including master and transactional data, is accurate, reliable and transfers cleanly to the new system before you start.

Getting the data right should be job one on your pre-go-live checklist.

Second on the list is people. Make sure they know when they’re needed, why they’re needed and how they’re needed, so that when the moment of truth arrives, everyone is in the right place to deliver what’s expected. Their ability to respond appropriately during the go-live hinges on making sure all their questions have been addressed up front.

And lastly, make sure you have pre-set checkpoints earmarked across your go-live schedule. Set one every couple of hours, every four hours, every shift, whatever makes sense within your anticipated flow. Checkpoints can serve as logical stopping points to assess how the process is working, answer any questions and maintain alignment.

There are lots of moving parts in a go-live exercise, with lots of departments doing lots of different things. Don’t underestimate the value of stopping at set places to ask how everyone is doing.

You don’t want one department falling behind, tying up the progress of other departments. So, holding your alignment through key stress points and understanding what’s expected next is critical to success.

About Expectations

Before you go live, discuss expectations with your software provider, to ensure that they will remain engaged and responsive to your needs – reactive in an agile way – as the process unfolds. Too much structure will not accommodate the fluidity of the typical go-live experience. Unusual circumstances can occur that won’t conform to pat answers. Resist any knee-jerk reactions to modify your software at go-live. Problems may only require an explanation. This is where a knowledgeable, experienced software partner can guide you through the bumps in the road, and restore your team to the task, so you can maintain and sustain your successful WMS go-live journey without getting tripped up on non-issues.

Keep an Eye on KPIs

Key Performance Indicators will vary depending on your type of implementation and what matters to your business. One size does not fit all. It’s best to settle the matter before you go-live and establish KPIs up front, to avoid defining KPIs during the fog of war, when your go-live is already in full bloom.

Work collaboratively prior to launch to establish what your goals are, how you’re going to meet them and how you’re going to measure them. Share these markers with your team, so everyone can be on the same page in advance.

Don’t celebrate too soon. Many companies tend to throttle up at go live to get it all done and go home. But week one may not be a normal week. Orders may be down. Volume may be diverted. When week two hits, everything can change. Suddenly, you’re on full blast and everyone is wondering what hit them. Make sure you understand the fluctuations in your business and be ready to handle them. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating. But keep a sober outlook.

What Next?

Unfortunately, once you’re done, you’re not really done. Software changes all the time. So, be prepared to face the imminent day of upgrade. Advances in technology – artificial intelligence, robotics, automation –are all breaking new ground daily. You will always need to re-adjust to keep your business in top competitive form. So, go with it.

Upgrades

Make sure you have a capable software provider who understands the upgrade process and keeps you informed, via up-to-date release notes and new version scenarios. If you’re not hearing regularly from your software provider on these opportunities, you may be missing out.

New efficiencies, revenue opportunities and time savings are always on the horizon.

Be sure your team is prepared for “the day” by performing regression tests on your software, to understand the impact of upgrades and provide the necessary change management to keep your software from becoming deficient.

Your supply chain software can be a great advantage to your business:

  • Make you more efficient
  • Set you apart from your competitors
  • Keep your people happy and productive

All of which contributes to a healthy bottom line.

Manage the moving parts in your go-live experience, hold the course and experience maximum uptime, minimal disruption and greater satisfaction in your business. Here’s to successful WMS go-lives!

Looking for a new WMS? Open Sky Group can help guide you through implementation to go-live and beyond with support and future system upgrades. Contact us today.

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