How to Effectively Implement an Order Management System
Being in control of your supply chain and warehouse is essential to your success, and warehouse management systems follow suit. However, you need to do a bit more than just flip the proverbial switch, explains F. Curtis Barry & Company. Fortunately, you can follow these steps to ensure you implement an order management system properly.
1. Plan How to Implement an Order Management System.
Many warehouse managers and retailers often forget about the scope and value in planning. While the system may have the capacity to handle thousands of operations, it does not mean the system will take effect immediately. When you implement an order management system, you should include creating a project management team, identifying risks and interaction among all departments involved in the order fulfillment, product manufacturing, warehousing and transportation processes.
2. Include Your IT Department in Implementation.
Vendors and providers of an order management system may have IT experts ready to help with implementation, but your own IT department should still be involved. By working together, you can identify foreseeable problems faster and reduce delays in implementation.
3. Avoid Trial-by-Fire Testing.
Implementation is a delicate process, and most OMS implementation time frames span eight to 12 months, reports Curt Barry via MultiChannel Merchant. However, some larger retailers and warehouses may be unable to realistically disconnect and integrate the new system gradually. As a result, the implementation may be trial-by-fire, but partnering with third-party integrator (3PI), like Veridian Solutions, may be able to reduce this risk.
4. Document Every Stage of the Implementation Process, Including Deliverables.
Your vendor may not know exactly what is happening, but you can still hold him accountable. Create a list of your system’s needs and company expectations. When any new upgrade to the system is completed—a deliverable has been met—sign off on a written document attesting to that fact. Furthermore, create formal check points to review written deliverables and results prior to sign off. This will eliminate a headache and stress down the line.
5. Test. Test. Test.
Your new system will need testing to ensure its integrability, scalability and functionality with your existing systems prior to “Going Live.” Run your tests before disconnecting your existing systems, and do not assume a failed test means the system lacks value. It may simply require a better configuration or re-working of its API or EDI. This is also an excellent time to begin training your employees on the system, and an ideal training strategy would be to train individuals responsible for training other employees first. That way, you can get back to work in your warehouse or distribution center, explains Ernie Schell of MultiChannel Merchant.
6. Go Live During Operational Lulls.
Stop right there. An operational lull is defined as a time when overall incoming orders are at their lowest volume. While lulls may come and go throughout the year, aim for a period during the middle of week. In addition, leave your existing system operating after “going live” until all back-orders and issues from the previous system have been resolved.
Implementing an OMS Can Be Effective and Require Less Stress Than It Seems.
Growing businesses need modern OMS solutions to manage inventory and cut product cycle times down, but implementation should not be a fly-by-night process. Follow these steps, and your implementation should run smoothly and effectively.