Getting Real About Advanced WMS Features

Answer: People.

For a moment, let’s focus on what’s really important. Specifically, what you can control in your warehouse.

Integration of the Human Element in Warehousing

Most WMS must-have-feature lists settle on some combination of ERP integration, optimized inventory management, and mobile deployment. Deeper discussions list data collection capabilities, especially the extent to which your inbound/outbound inventory flow tracking can lead to real-time insights into how to run your business. 

However, for a truly substantial “must-have” discussion, you have to consider feature performance in the context of how people will interact with their WMS. Removing the human element from your WMS formula leaves you with only half a solution.

Calculating the Human Element in Preparedness

Warehouse operational preparedness is highly affected by the human element, and your WMS can play a central role in achieving 100% uptime. A WMS determines the what, when, and where product will flow in and out of your warehouse. A truly smart WMS will determine whether or not the who is prepared to handle that work at any given moment. Furthermore, it will tell you how to bill for maximum profitability.

“’Exactly how well prepared are you to do business?’ is what I always ask our clients,” says Ed Troianello, President of QSSI. “It’s the question to ask first, last, and repeatedly throughout a conversation about WMS features.” 

Ed stresses that situational awareness is the key to operational efficiency and effectiveness. QSSI people are deeply rooted in a mindset of due diligence. The warehouse is understood as a “live” environment with immediate cause and effect ramifications for a person’s actions. “Cultivating a culture of continuous improvements is the most important thing we can impart to a client’s people,” says Ed. “During system implementation and years later, as a company expands into new markets, we always circle back to this idea. You want to remove human error from the equation? You need to first understand how people impact the warehouse and how the warehouse impacts people, in time and space.”

“The business disruptions of the past year remind us to focus like a laser beam on improving enterprise operations through investments in technology.”

Felecia Stratton, Editor, Inbound Logistics Magazine

QSSI PowerHouse, 2021 Inbound Logistics Top 100 IT Provider
How to Assess WMS Features Incorporating the Human Element

Recognize the interdependence of critical operational components in the warehouse. The value of a full stack WMS toolset increases at an exponential rate when your people can leverage multiple, interconnected sources of data for labor, inventory, orders, shipping, automation, and more. An enterprise-wide solution to warehousing involves customer service, management, executives, and client relations, in addition to operations. 

Imagine a high-functioning query tool capable of generating warehousing solutions impacting all aspects of your business. Redefine competitive advantage. During the implementation process, the ideal is the three-legged stool approach to planning your warehousing system: configuration, preparation, and resiliency. All three should be addressed together and at each stage of the process. All three require integration of your company’s human capital. 

For example, configure for maximum uptime, prepare for inevitable change, including new opportunities, and build into the system the capacity to be resilient in the face of supply chain disruptions. A balanced implementation strategy is more than the sum of its parts and, therefore, capable of addressing multiple issues at once: substantial increases in order volumes and e-commerce demands, decreased processing times, and the challenges associated with acquiring qualified labor.

WMS as Common Operating Environment

Most companies need actionable insights into their business, not more data, which is why indiscriminately piling on the WMS features doesn’t make much sense. To outperform the competition, decision-makers at all levels of your organization require knowledge of how your business is performing. 

A WMS that serves as a common operating environment allows for the expansion of operations where it counts.

People interacting with intelligent systems, working in tandem with smart technology tools.

WMS Functionality

Environments that demand uninterrupted functionality perform best within a common platform, because this is also where people perform at maximum efficiency and effectiveness. PowerHouse provides that common thread rooted in a common application, for a holistic solution, from document management to ERP integration.

Closing Thought

With the right information at the right time, your people can extend and then built new revenue channels, avoid unnecessary downtime, and achieve maximum efficiencies. For 30+ years, we’ve seen people as the answer, whatever the challenge. Move forward with the right people to help.

  1. Central point of access to data from all operational systems
  2. Collaborative channels for connecting and sharing in real-time
  3. KPIs at both facility and enterprise levels

WMS Functionality
  • Operations instrument for streamlining human observations
  • Analytics for decision-making and situational awareness
  • Benchmarks for troubleshooting and measuring KPIs
  • Early warning system for anomalies and trends
  • Data manager for records and reports
  • Training tool for skill development and knowledge transfer

WMS Implementation Best Practices

Technology solutions should be grounded in a common platform for integration, usability, and analytics.

During the implementation process, the ideal is the three-legged stool approach to planning your warehousing system: configurationpreparation, and resiliency. All three should be addressed together and at each stage of the process. All three require integration of your company’s human capital.

Configure for 100% Uptime

QSSI’s development team will prepare you for a smooth transition to operations using our RESULTS implementation methodology. Together, we’ll define the boundaries and influences on your warehouse environment and map WMS capabilities to meet your expressed objectives.

A robust DISCOVERY process ensures that you’ll maximize potential for WMS performance. We use a proven Solutions Fit Matrix to configure your specific operational requirements and workflow to PowerHouse functionality while specifying any desired modifications. This process protects your assets and optimizes operations throughout the long lifecycle of your warehouse. 

You will save money and resources from day one.

Prepare for Inevitable Change

To prepare for disruptions, you need to plan for unavoidable market shifts. Just how adeptly your people will consider, analyze, and disseminate new information from multiple sources is dependent on at least four key components.

  1. Established Procedures
  2. Operational Programming
  3. Ongoing Training
  4. Technical Maintenance Protocol

A successful WMS implementation achieves balance between thinking outside conventional solutions for perceived supply chain disruptions and optimizing your company’s tried-and-true methods. Track progress with a high-level, actionable project plan identifying major tasks and task dependencies. Move forward with confidence with clearly defined implementation target dates and project deliverables. 

Build Resiliency into Your WMS

QSSI promotes an added value solution for building a resilient system. We measure WMS performance over a facility’s lifetime, which necessitates establishing a reliable baseline based on pre-established business rules and operational parameters. 

Extensive INTEGRATION TESTING ensures that PowerHouse is functionally interactive with other enterprise systems. Initially, your database is duplicated to protect its integrity while still creating an accurate, precise environment for production and testing purposes.

Processes, procedures, and interfaces are tested, adapted, and then tested again. 

We build a highly adaptable and, therefore, resilient platform for data to flow from external systems to PowerHouse where it is processed and transmitted to other systems.

Do Your Due Diligence Prior to Production Go-Live

As PowerHouse comes to life and is proven within the controlled testing environment, we begin an extensive “Train the Trainer” program involving warehouse supervisors, end users, and system administrators. This process acknowledges a critical aspect of best-practice WMS implementation—the need for ongoing due diligence. This ensures that employees have the necessary deep knowledge to make maximum use of the system.

Training cultivates a culture of continuous improvement within your company to ensure that system enhancements are identified and promptly acted upon using optimal methods. 

Furthermore, our support team remains by your side providing continuing expertise. Best practice protocol necessitates that we continue to assess the effectiveness of the solution, as well as consider possible system enhancements, additions, and wish-list items, an anticipated outcome of real-life application.

Our goal is to weave your WMS into your warehouse environment and daily business operations, ultimately, delivering a COMPLETE SOLUTION.

Key Idea no. 1
  • Intellectual capital should be easily accessible.

Key Idea no. 2
  • True preparedness includes operational programming, training, and maintenance.

Key Idea no. 3
  • Response tactics must be individualized.