Logistics software implementations are not plug and play


Phrases like “out-of-the-box” and “plug-and-play” software conjure up images of easy, almost instantaneous implementation of software. This is not the reality on the ground. Logistics software solutions are complex. Advances in software design have extended configuration options and simplified implementation workflows. But warehouse management system (WMS), workforce management systems, and warehouse robotics implementations remain complex projects. These projects require in-depth knowledge of warehouse business processes and underlying technologies.

Bridging the gap between concept and productivity

Warehouse operators typically embark on a change management journey before the involvement of a technology implementation partner. For comprehensive changes, such as implementing a new WMS in a complex facility, an organization must determine its priorities and preferred processes through proper planning and communications with internal stakeholders. Subsequently, these priorities should be shared with the implementation team. Despite the differences in the underlying methodologies, successful deployments tend to combine the discipline of careful planning with the flexibility to accept the unexpected that will increase project value and customer satisfaction. “A large part of the implementation should be devoted to ensuring that the overall value is realized through a combination of creating a solution that is both sustainable and bearable, while meeting the requirements of the business,” Jeremy said. Hudson, director of customer services at Open Sky Group. With more than 90 WMS, Workforce Management Systems or Transportation Management Systems put into service in the past 24 months, Open Sky is a leading systems integrator for logistics software. .

According to Ron Lazo, vice president, Professional Services Organization at Manhattan Associates

, “A structured implementation process aligns project execution with expected business outcomes to increase time to value. Experience is needed to balance what may be competing goals. There can be a tendency for a business to want all the bells and whistles without fully considering the impact this will have on the time it takes to implement the solution and the cost.

Jerry Hudson of Open Sky Group believes that it is imperative to focus on weighing operational compliance to the base product against the impact of changes to the solution to meet “as-is” processes. He thinks customers can inform their decisions by asking themselves, “Is it worth making a change that might be costly and cause problems down the road, or is it better to change your process to meet the needs of the customer?” software without modification? Increasingly, companies are deciding that the changes are not worth it.

Think wide and deep

After conducting a survey of the warehouse management systems integration market, ARC came to some conclusions. First, an experienced integration knows what is most important to consider when prioritizing different implementation options. Second, a good integrator takes a broad and in-depth view of the value that technology brings to its customers. The solution must be implemented for current needs, but adapted to future needs. Time to value, total cost of ownership, and system durability are all central considerations. A system integrator must also have a holistic view of how the given technology fits into the larger operational and technology landscape.

Ron Lazo of Manhattan Associates provided specific examples of how Manhattan’s orchestrated implementation efforts in warehousing and transportation operations align the business, delivering benefits such as increased visibility of inbound shipments, smarter appointment management, automated workflows and efficient workforce management.

John Santagate, vice president of robotics at Körber Supply Chain Software summed up the value provided by experienced implementation teams: “It’s easy to ignore the end-to-end impact of a deployment of new technology in the warehouse. Leveraging the WMS implementation and integration team can help provide a more holistic view. These teams have in-depth knowledge of the operational and technology landscape and are able to identify process, workflow and technology improvements that will drive value.

But a smooth implementation only carries a business so far. To extract the expected value from the new technology, end users must adopt the solution, use it as intended, and execute change management initiatives. Justin Ritter, vice president of operations at Lucas Systems, said customer education is the key to a successful implementation project. “You can’t ignore training and user support during commissioning. Otherwise, you risk setting up software that is not properly used and therefore does not deliver the desired results.

The main author of this article is Clint Reiser. Clint is the Director of Supply Chain Research at the ARC Advisory Group.