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What to Know Before Implementing a New Inventory Management System

Posted by on April 14, 2020 5:00 pm

If your organization is looking to make big improvements to your bottom line, a new inventory management system could be the solution to a problem you weren’t actually aware is impacting company success–especially for organizations using paper-based processes or multiple disconnected ERP and inventory systems. Systems, or a lack thereof, could be limiting profits and holding back improving customer satisfaction.  Optimizing inventory movement is key to improving success.

A full inventory management solution switch-over has remarkable potential to transform businesses. The most effective of these solutions can provide flexibility and scalability that make adapting to changing business requirements easy and effective. Constantly changing supply chain needs in 2020 means that by not updating your inventory management processes, you will eventually fall behind the competition.

Making the switch is not a piece of cake. But with the right mindset, the complicated swap can become less frustrating and more logical.

Operational considerations

The biggest impact a new system of record will have, no surprise, is changing day-to-day operations. With a new system, you won’t be able to simply copy what you used to do—and you wouldn’t want to, that’s the point of using a new system!

Prior to implementation, think about what future KPIs and business requirements are important to the business. Having a goal is important, but also consider other pieces of the puzzle to achieve that goal.

Say your goal is to ship twice as much product by the end of the year. Switching the system won’t automatically achieve that goal; how will a new system impact where product is located? How it is scanned? Who is picking it? Where does the data live? Who looks at it?

There are lots of processes to consider. It will take time, but addressing each goal and decision ultimately makes the implementation process much smoother.

Physical considerations

Substantially changing processes almost certainly means changes to the physical warehouse. If the goal is to increase order fulfillment, there may be a need for more or larger racks to support increased throughput. If you’re giving your technology an upgrade and automating processes, you’ll need new equipment.

Plan ahead and provide enough lead time to make the required changes possible. Decisions need to be made, equipment needs to be ordered and the warehouse needs to be physically updated before progress is achieved. None of these decisions are particularly complicated, they just require ample forethought.

Change management considerations

Lastly, the team must adequately be prepared to make the implementation go smoothly. This includes upper management backing the system, teaching managers how to troubleshoot the new technology and training people in the warehouse.

From the very start of considering a new system, including employees and end users in the conversation will ensure adoption goes smoother. When considering requirements in the selection phase, make sure you’re seeing what employees truly need from a new system.

Depending on the skills of your employees and how big the switch in technology is, the amount of training required varies greatly by company. Be prepared to take the appropriate time to fully familiarize your employees with the new system. It will mitigate challenges in using the technology down the road.

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