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Three Steps to Implementing a WMS Change Management Plan

Inefficient warehouse practices can cause companies to see smaller margins. So change management within the WMS is always a hot topic. Some new feature comes along that can improve efficiency, and you’re ready to see those savings.
 
Achieving the promised gains requires you to change how processes run. That means you need a change management plan to install and maintain that change.
 
For warehouses, managing these warehouse improvement plans requires you to be honest. You’ll need to present ways that it will benefit your team. Also, you must make it simple for people to follow new processes or ask questions.
 
Here are three steps to follow so you can have a successful WMS change management plan.
 
Identify and communicate needs
 
Success and failure of change management plans often happen before anything actually changes.
 
Communication can empower your team to work together when it’s done right. When it falls short, you run the risk of having people working against change. Also, they many not know you’ve included their needs in your plans for change.
 
When your staff sees management leading the charge, they’re more likely to support the process. It’s even better if you communicate why you’ve selected different areas for change. Plus they’d like to know how a new business process will lead to benefits for the staff itself.
 
Stick to benefits that are easy for everyone to understand:
  • Customer service
  • Less data entry
  • Improved warehouse layout
  • More efficient inventory controls
 
Plan for your change
 
Build out a broad road map of the processes that are going to change.
 
  • How a process will change
  • The scope of that change
  • Objectives
  • New measurement or reporting tools
  • The costs of implementing the process
 
Detailed plans make it easier for you to meet goals, address challenges, and avoid problems during implementation.
 
You can take it a step farther than creating measurables and targets. Build out incentives for your team to adopt the new processes and for achieving goals.
 
Create a simple, clear order with feedback opportunities
 
And finally, we come to the change and implementation itself. This requires a deeper dive into your planning.
 
Break down the change management process into as many direct steps as possible. Create workflows for everything that your change management will touch.
 
Now, put those new processes in order of importance and need so that your team can put them in place as needed. This might mean changing one process per week to help staff get used to the new processes. Or it could be making a few changes all at once.
 
The clearer you can make each step and process change, the easier it will be for your team to adopt and follow. Implementation must be understandable.
 
As the leader of the project, you don’t get to sit back at this point. Use metrics and reporting to see if you’re achieving warehouse improvement goals. And remember to ask for feedback on the efforts. Engage every stakeholder so you can determine if the implementation has succeeded. Also try to identify what work you need to do to maintain momentum and positive trends.
 
Geoff Whiting is an experienced journalist writing for Explore WMS, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.
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