You’ve been there – you take on what looks like a small Warehouse Management System project that seems like it will be quick and easy so you take shortcuts and skip all the stuff you might normally do. Then, before you know it the requirements have tripled and the project starts to feel out of control. When it comes to Warehouse Management System (WMS) software projects, it never pays to take shortcuts. In fact, small WMS projects can be big failures, and here are some of the top reasons why:
- No future state or solution summary is developed (Vision/Design)
- No true Project Management or planning is done (Planning)
- No budget is established or controlled (ROI/Control)
- No testing or limited time is given to testing (Testing)
- No training or documentation of a new process or procedure (Training)
- No consideration is given to other departments that may be affected by the changes (Change Management)
The list above looks very similar to any list someone might write of why a software project failed. The point here is that you need to do all the same things in a small WMS project that you’d do in a larger one in order to be successful. This prevents the mistakes and constant rework that can cause small projects to go over time and budget and miss management’s expectations.
WMS testing is very often completely overlooked on small projects, or at best the hours and scope are limited. Any small change has potential unintended knock-on effects to other processes and configurations if not thought out, planned, and tested. Make room in your schedule for complete regression or system testing. Of course, proper unit testing, acceptance testing, and regression testing are the minimum to ensure a successful WMS project.
Warehouse Management System training and documentation on the new process or procedures is very important too. Any time a change is made, no matter how small, document this change in your SOPs, WIKI, etc. The documentation does not have to be a dissertation; often a few sentences, paragraphs, or even a diagram will do.
Complete documentation will allow for an easier upgrade or replacement in the long term and for easier support and training of new employees in the short term. A lot of small changes made over a long period of time without proper documentation can really become a nightmare for future changes, upgrades, or system replacements.
Treat all Warehouse Management System projects the same, regardless of size, and the same successful outcome you get with a large project will also happen with the small projects. Follow the same steps and include time for testing, training, and documentation. Look at the testing, training, and documentation independently based on the number of systems, processes, and people it will affect and base the time for the WMS project on that.
Don’t let a quick and dirty Warehouse Management System project end up dirty – take the time to make sure you are successful!