May 6, 2020 / BY microlistics

Adapting your WMS implementation for a ‘socially distanced’ world can yield unexpected benefits

 

You don’t know how critical something is until you are in a crisis.  While the global COVID-19 pandemic is impacting people’s daily personal and professional lives, it is also impacting the international supply chains that we have all come to rely on.

Supply chain workers, traditionally unsung heroes, are being celebrated for rising to the challenge. Dock workers, truck-drivers and warehouse personnel are stepping up to unload containers, deliver goods, and process orders as safely as possible to ensure people have the food and medical supplies they need, and the other goods that provide comfort in troubling times.

As a global company with customers in 150 countries, we recognise the urgent need to keep supply chains moving.

Even at the best of times, implementing a new Tier 1 WMS is a substantial project. WMS projects are often scheduled months in advance and require input from right across an organisation for solution design, training, knowledge transfer, and testing before ‘Go Live’. Many of these steps are conducted in-person to ensure a seamless business transition.

 

What do you do when an ‘in-person’ WMS implementation is no longer an option?

Many countries have mandated stay-at-home and physical distancing for all non-essential services to contain the spread of Covid-19. This makes in-person workshops and hands on training impossible.

For Microlistics, the move to servicing customers remotely was under way prior to the onset of Covid-19 with the development of virtual training material, instructional videos and online knowledge bases. There were, however, certain steps in our proven implementation process that still took place face-to-face.

Here are three key ways that we’ve adapted our WMS implementation processes to the ‘new normal’ to address the Covid-19 situation and still deliver the improvements your business needs.

Move all in-person steps online

One of the first steps that can be moved online is the kick-off and solution design phase. These workshops dig deep into existing processes to identify gaps and opportunities to optimise warehouse workflows for efficiency and cost-savings. Traditionally, Microlistics delivers these in-person over the course of five days. These workshops are now delivered remotely via online meeting technologies.

Already, our team has conducted several of these online workshops. One was the roll-out of Microlistics WMS for a UK based omnichannel retailer across four global warehouse locations. Another was for the US warehouse locations of a 3PL business with more than 70 sites around the globe.

Some efficiencies were realised through the development of process flow diagrams in real-time versus documenting post-it notes and white boards post session.

Another step that can be moved online is super user training and knowledge transfer for the client teams that will eventually own the system. This is being accomplished through a blend of remote training via online meeting tools, video content and eLearning assessments.

Recently, the team managed this key client handover with a Melbourne, Australia based manufacturing & distribution client.

Online sessions can also be recorded allowing the client team to revisit them post training to refresh their memory and revisit key concepts.

Extend the timeline

In addition to hosting the kick-off and solution design workshops online, these sessions can also be extended. According to Archival Garcia, Vice President of Sales for APAC there are also unexpected benefits to be realised,

“Holding part of the implementation across two weeks and moving to half day sessions has resulted in higher customer participation. This kind of schedule gives customers time to reflect and have their own discussions around the project and come back with more ideas.”

Similarly, other phases, like super user training, UAT support and knowledge transfer have been extended when moved online. This gives users more time to get comfortable with the platform and provides a longer period for fine-tuning and issue resolution.

 

More touch points, not less

In order to replace the focus and momentum of an in-person workshop, more touchpoints, and not less, can be added to the process.

In addition to weekly project status meetings, borrow the daily huddle or stand-ups concept from the development world. These daily 15-to-30-minute sessions, easily accomplished remotely, keep the project team on task and allow for the timely response to issues and adjustments.

 

Microlistics is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our supply chain clients, while not physically standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Although our traditional, in-person implementation program was designed to minimise business disruption and reduce costs, dealing with the disruption of Covid-19 has delivered some unexpected benefits that result in a stronger day one solution and better client adoption.

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