From Spreadsheets to WMS Software
Take Your Warehouse from Spreadsheets to WMS Software
Warehouse management system (WMS software) adoption is increasing. However, many smaller warehouses still rely on manual systems causing them to lag behind larger organisations in modernising their operations.
Some smaller warehouses record information on paper and then enter data in spreadsheets to monitor inventory, plan storage schemes, schedule labour, and manage goods movement.
Other small warehouses may have implemented custom tools based on Microsoft Access databases, FileMaker, or other business applications. But in a busy warehouse with limited staff, these tools may demonstrate performance problems or other signs that they haven’t been maintained properly.
Furthermore, the person who developed them may have moved on to a different position or retired, an all-to-familiar story since The Great Resignation amplified the challenges created by the labour and skills shortage in nearly every sector.
To reduce dependence on specific employees or paper-based systems and upgrade to a future-proof strategy, warehouses of all sizes will benefit from implementing WMS software. Warehouses that transition to a WMS gain many improvements in their day-to-day operations.
Faster Training Time
Training can take months of shadowing experienced team members so new hires can learn the step-by-step processes required to follow paper orders, complete tasks, and accurately record data.
In warehouses that have historically experienced high turnover rates, it’s possible staff can’t train people fast enough to maximise productivity and never get costs under control. In addition, warehouses that rely on experienced team members to pass on their knowledge would be at a loss if those employees resigned.
With WMS software, warehouses can automate training. Employees receive role-based instruction via PDAs or other mobile devices, helping them focus on one task at a time rather than trying to learn the entire system.
For example, new hires can jump right into directed picking with a system that tells them precisely what to pick and where to find the right SKUs. Once the employee has completed a task, the order status changes. This can act as a trigger that notifies supervisors that the employee is ready for new assignments. Additionally, with guided instruction, scaling staff with temporary workers to handle picking and receiving during peak season is also streamlined.
The training process becomes more streamlined, easier, and more effective. It also helps build collaboration between team members and eliminates data silos so that managers and business leaders can monitor new hires’ progress and the status of projects.
More Productivity with Fewer Employees
WMS software accessible on mobile devices doesn’t only benefit new employees. It helps all employees increase their productivity. Paper orders require employees to stop what they’re doing after each job and retrieve their next orders. Those added steps take time – time that employees could spend on more productive work.
Additionally, when an employee returns paper orders, that employee or a support person has to enter information in the warehouse’s database or spreadsheets.
A paperless warehouse allows employees to move seamlessly from one task to the next with no wasted steps in between, increasing their productivity.
Employees with mobile devices can also enter data into the WMS at the point of the task, eliminating the need to enter it later. The warehouse can reassign people responsible for data entry to other tasks, further increasing overall business efficiency.
Reduce the Possibility of Human Errors
When processes rely heavily on humans, there is always the chance of human error. Handwriting can be difficult to read, especially if employees are under pressure to move quickly, and data can become smudged when employees work in an industrial environment. Moreover, employees can tear or misplace paper, leading to data loss.
Cloud based WMS software eliminates those pitfalls. Employees receive directions on mobile devices, down to bin and SKU levels. Transitioning to a paperless warehouse allows employees to verify items again before they are packed and shipped, helping teams achieve near-perfect order accuracy. As a result, those software-directed checks and balances lead to fewer mis-ships, lower costs and happier customers.
Make the Most of Your Capital and Your Space
Paper-based inventory management processes can result in costly errors. Inaccurate inventory data may indicate that your warehouse is low or out of stock on an item and could even trigger a purchase order. However, when the order arrives, it becomes evident that stock was not low, and now capital is tied up in unneeded inventory.
Additionally, your team now has to rework the warehouse layout to accommodate the excess inventory.
WMS software allows you to maintain accurate inventory records that inform the correct purchasing decisions. It also helps you choose the best layout for your warehouse to make the best use of every square foot of space and enhance picking efficiency.
A WMS can even offer multi-binning, which enables locating two or more SKUs in the same bin for storage efficiency. Furthermore, WMS software can guide a team through first-in, first-out (FIFO) picking to minimise old, outdated, or expired stock.
Better Visibility and Reporting
With paper-based processes, there is always a delay from the time an employee performs work until data is recorded in a spreadsheet. However, WMS software solutions enable complete visibility into your entire operation, from orders to shipments, in real time.
Automated processes coordinated on your WMS software give you the advantage of a comprehensive set of standard reports covering inventory management, purchase, and sales orders for complete visibility.
Web based WMS software also provides traceability for each step of your processes, enabling documentation and an audit trail in case there is a dispute. Detailed records from your WMS show the items picked and packed, shipping information, and even the weight of the shipment, which can support your case that you fulfilled the order as promised.
Without a WMS, determining what went wrong can take a significant amount of time as you dig through paperwork and may mean you can’t back up your claims that you fulfilled and shipped orders correctly.
Future-Proofing Your Warehouse Operations
While it will take planning, effort, and time to implement a WMS, the payoff will include positioning your operation better to keep up with industry changes and to meet customer demands. WMS software also streamlines and digitises processes, making your operation less dependent on employees.
Get ahead of the uncertain labour market and future-proof your operation by moving to a paperless warehouse with cloud-based WMS software.