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Lessons learnt when implementing a warehouse management system

Written by Simon Abi Saad
Created: 10 July 2018

Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) can be a valuable asset for your business, but you need to ensure that you’re fully prepared for the onboarding process if you want to get the most out of your investment.

Implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) can be a valuable asset for your business, but you need to ensure that you’re fully prepared for the onboarding process if you want to get the most out of your investment.

If you’re about to begin implementing a warehouse management system, you’ve probably got loads of questions about how you can make the process run smoothly. Fortunately, with over 20 years of experience successfully implementing warehouse management systems, we’ve overcome all the learning curves for you - so you don’t have to!


As we’ve mentioned before, the average onboarding process takes between six to eight months. This time is absolutely crucial to the overall success of your WMS implementation - so you need to ensure that your warehouse and staff are fully prepared to embark on this journey.


The following tips will help you identify a few key areas that can help you get the most out of the onboarding process and, ultimately, enjoy the full benefits of your investment right from the start.

Lessons learnt when implementing a warehouse management system

  • Involve all stakeholders in the project to ensure buy-in
  • Keep communication lines open
  • A robust change management process crucial during the onboarding process
  • Always have a “Plan B”
  • Make sure your project plan is realistic

1. Involve all stakeholders in the project to ensure buy-in

During the planning phase (before you even kick off the onboarding process) you need to gather feedback from all the stakeholders in your business - including sales staff, customers and your supplier chain.


This helps you align your business goals with your stakeholders’ requirements, so that you choose a WMS that allows you the functionality you need to be able to deliver on these requirements - improving productivity, profitability and, most importantly, customer service levels.


By skipping this step, you could be throwing precious capital down the drain when your system fails to deliver the results you need. Read our article, 5 common onboarding mistakes with your warehouse management system (WMS), to find out how you can avoid running into speed bumps during your WMS implementation period.

2. Keep communication lines open

Frequent, clear and timeous communication between stakeholders will ensure that the onboarding process runs smoothly.


We recommend setting up weekly project update meetings that include key staff members like your sales team, IT and your warehouse staff as well as your warehouse management system provider. This allows everyone to flag any potential hiccups as they arise, and prevents bigger problems from running unchecked.  


Keep asking each other questions until you’re sure that everyone is on the same page. Let your staff drive the process; their input is invaluable considering they’re the people who will be using the system on a daily basis. Knowing that their concerns and needs are being heard will help keep your team motivated during this change.

3. A robust  process crucial during the onboarding process

Speaking of change, implementing a warehouse management system is no small task. If you don’t support this process with a robust change management plan, staff may lose motivation along the way - causing delays and, potentially, not using the system the way it was intended to be used due to lack of training and well communicated business objectives.


The key to change management is not to make too many changes all at once. Keep project simple and flexible to be able to handle any speed bumps that you could encounter along the way.

4. Always have a “Plan B”

Flexibility is important during this period. Provide back-up plans to supply local customers from other distribution points during the go-live period, in case of an emergency. Make sure you’ve briefed your sales team and mapped out the logistics so that if the need arises you can quickly and seamlessly switch your operations to “Plan B” without interrupting your business.

5. Make sure your project plan is realistic

In order to stick to the deadlines mapped out in your project plan, you need to make sure, that you’ve allocated enough time for each task.


The timing of your go-live needs to minimise risk. Be realistic when evaluating the possible impact of a warehouse management system implementation (time, costs, impact on sales and so on). If you set your go-live too close to busy season, it may have a negative impact on your bottom line.


No matter how well you plan, you can’t avoid unexpected delays. It’s unfortunately the nature of the beast - every onboarding process will incur a few teething problems. The key is to allocate enough time and resources to be able to overcome these teething problems timeously and without putting strain on your operations.

We recommend that you do a complete readiness assessment a month before going live to recheck that your warehouse management system aligns with your business requirements.


By following these guidelines you should find the onboarding process relatively painless. Keep in mind the five P’s of success: proper planning prevents poor performance. The more your plan and research prior to embarking on your onboarding journey, the less likely you are to experience any major hiccups once you begin implementing your WMS.


Need help finding the right WMS for your business? Contact Supply Chain Junction for a needs analysis to help you find a solution that meets all your requirements.

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Want to see the results from a real-life example of an implementation? See what Tarsus Distribution did to ensure a seamless implementation of their WMS and the benefits they have experienced from this implementation.

Tarsus Case Study

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