This blog post was adapted from a live expert webinar with our partner, Open Sky Group.
The pressure for quick and smooth warehouse management system (WMS) implementations has never been as high as it is now. The days of T1 lines and onsite data centers are not quite gone, but the time is coming.
There’s no escaping the fact that WMSs have become software as a service (SaaS) or cloud-based in a very short amount of time. This is partly thanks to the pandemic, which required industry-wide methodology changes.
Companies across the globe have had to rethink every aspect of a WMS implementation, from functional gap analysis and integration architecture to risk management.
7 Recommendations to Reduce Deployment Risk
The idea of reducing deployment risk during WMS implementations — while meeting deadlines — can be daunting. But it’s necessary to ensure that businesses aren’t hit with greater risks further down the line. As the saying goes, A stitch in time saves nine.
Read on for seven ways to limit deployment risk and hit timelines.
1. Keep It Simple
Everyone has to learn to crawl before they can walk — and learn to walk before they can run. By stressing simplicity, companies put themselves in the best position to resist the temptation of attacking everything at once.
Unveiling large, complex, and highly functional tier-one systems to operations teams can cause a lot of excitement within organizations. As a result, the teams often get carried away and end up introducing unnecessary complexities almost immediately. For instance, maybe they want features they’ve seen that weren’t provided with the legacy system — but those features might not actually be necessary.
Blue-sky thinking is great — in the right context. But a minimum viable product (MVP) approach satisfies business-critical needs, enabling organizations to do what they do well consistently.
Whenever possible, businesses should have a standard product. This applies whether operating in a SaaS or an on-prem environment.
Standard products allow businesses to maintain a better position to stay current. Major upgrades and new features, functions, or version releases benefit from standardization. If a product isn’t standardized, these things introduce more complexity with each iteration.
Standardization is important from the standpoint of the long-term total cost of ownership, as well as overall risk mitigation for systems, performance, and stability.
Cycle Labs’ partner Open Sky Group uses its own proprietary, templatized approach. A pre-configured system like Open Sky Group’s offers predefined collateral from test scripts and solution summary documents.
This can be leveraged to improve the overall time-to-value (TTV), ultimately reducing implementation risk.
4. Automate Testing
Never underestimate the importance of automated testing for reducing risk. Change management isn’t the only thing that is sometimes overlooked during WMS implementations. Regression testing also often gets missed when organizations take shortcuts.
Bypassing testing on a regular basis is likely to increase risk in the long run. But businesses do this for a reason — their teams feel stretched for time.
Automated testing is the natural answer here. If companies can conduct testing easily and efficiently — which automated testing enables — then risk is likely to decrease.
What business would turn down more stable, accurate, and consistent systems?
5. Choose Your Partners Wisely
Partners can make or break WMS implementations, making the right one all the more valuable. When organizations are faced with complex systems and lots of decisions to make, trusted partnerships are the backbone of successful implementations.
Working with partners that have aligned interests — like having a standard product solution with a templatized approach — allows businesses to make the best possible decisions. That way, they can stay current, with the freedom to upgrade, while maintaining the very latest, greatest solutions.
6. Drive Value With Quality
In the past, the industry largely viewed quality as a cost driver and a necessary evil. But now, the companies that are winning are those that make quality a value driver.
By bringing quality assurance (QA) leadership to the table earlier in a project’s cycle, organizations can reap major benefits. When QA leaders can sit down with business and IT leaders to have deeper conversations about why quality matters, everybody wins.
7. Stay Curious
Any project or upgrade brings lots of moving parts changing from one version to another. Organizations that remain curious during this process open themselves up to more opportunities for further improvements.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it might be a fine philosophy in general, but if it’s getting in the way of asking whether there might be a better approach, businesses might want to dispense with it for this cycle.
This industry is in the business of improving existing processes — and it’s why Cycle Labs does what it does.
Smooth Orchestration for Successful Implementation
Remember: All of these guidelines need to be done in concert. Everything works in tandem. Without a foundational focus on quality assurance, simplicity isn’t sufficient. Likewise, if businesses aren’t regression testing properly or working with the right partners, they’re ultimately sabotaging their efforts.
By simultaneously enacting all of these tips, organizations can reduce deployment risk during WMS implementations while staying on track.
Successful WMS implementations are the linchpin of operational efficiency, enabling organizations to do what they do best: Deliver real value to customers, and meet and exceed expectations.