3 Techniques to (Em)brace a new WMS in the Warehouse
Deploying a new warehouse management system is far more than implementing a technical process or making a financial decision. It’s a decision that impacts your business’ people, requiring an “all hands on deck” approach to adopt and implement the system effectively. Creating an environment that fosters positive attitudes for change management must be thoughtfully planned. From experts engaged in on-boarding, training, and managing new WMS users, here are some key advice and lessons learned.
1. Identify and empower your superstar adopters. Create opportunities to build leaders (people who have proved to be early technology adopters) within your warehouse staff. The initial investment to encourage their leadership pays off as new employees can be trained on the floor and without additional supervision. This is particularly important for bilingual WMS champions in warehouses that may employ a majority of non-English speakers.
2. Build a network of mutual respect and cooperation. Especially when deploying a new WMS the first time, your staff can provide testing and suggestions for improvement. This advantage is at risk if they feel threatened by the change. Establish the rapport between leadership, training teams, and service – by communicating that their help is the key to making a smooth (and productive) transition work. Make sure you give them time to get comfortable with the new processes. Do whatever you can to ensure their first training of a barcode scanner or RFID gateway is an exciting opportunity to use new technology.
Position the upgrade as attaining a new technical skill. With a rapidly evolving digital economy, on-the-job training for tech-based skills is becoming paramount to career growth. With free training on new technologies, the staff can boast a skill set for automation and expand their experience – increasing their professional aptitude.
Encourage questions and learning. Ensure that deployment team experts are available during and after the implementation process is initiated. The staff should feel they have resources to aid them as they go through the labor-intensive process of switching operations. As each warehouse is different, there will be learning curves and modified approaches to ensure the best result. Don’t overlook the individuals who know the ins and outs of your facility the best.
3. Demonstrate real process improvements throughout the training process. Each warehouse, vendor, and customer comes with different headaches. With a more automated system, warehouse labor or customer service representatives may be able to take on a number of tasks or accounts with simpler steps. Ultimately, their jobs should become easier and their biggest pain points reduced. Remind them at every step of training how this system will benefit their day-to-day. How exactly this plays out in your specific context remains heavily on your team and your company culture. Leverage what you know about your warehouse staff and personalize your communications to them; whenever you can, speak directly to the improvements they will see on an individual or team basis.
Overall, any business updating their warehouse with a modern WMS will need to carefully manage the transition process. Done well, you will find motivated, enthusiastic employees that feel valued for their contributions. They will engage their skills, feel as if they are building their personal value, and support the speed of transition and adoption. This will reduce your headaches during and long after deployment, catch and eliminate inefficiencies, and reduce mistakes.
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