Inefficient warehouse practices can cause companies to see smaller margins on their sales and services, so change management within the WMS is perpetually a hot topic. When a new feature or module premieres with the potential to improve efficiency in labor or inventory, companies expect to see savings.
Achieving the promised gains requires you to change how processes run, meaning you need a change management plan to share, implement, and maintain that change effectively. For warehouses, successful use of these plans requires you to be honest, present ways that it will benefit your team and make it simple for people to follow new processes or ask questions.
Identify and communicate needs
Successes and failures of change management plans often occur before anything is implemented.
Communicating reasoning for change management 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 or not knowing that their actions are included 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 different areas were selected for change and how a new 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 layout of your warehouse or new controls that make it less likely they’ll have to hunt and hunt for products and packaging material.
Plan for your change
Build out a broad roadmap of the processes that are going to change.
Work through how a process will change, the scope of that change, objectives, how you’re going to measure each need and the costs of implementing the process. Detailed plans make it easier for you to meet goals, address challenges and avoid getting stuck during implementation.
You can take it a step farther than just creating measurables and targets by building out incentives for your team to adopt the new processes and change management as well as incentives for achieving desired goals.
Create a simple, clear order with feedback opportunities
Finally, we come to the change and implementation itself. This requires a deeper dive into your planning.
Take the items and processes you’ve identified for this change management process and break everything down 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 implement it 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. You need to keep on top of what’s happening, use metrics and reporting to see if you’re achieving goals while asking for feedback on the efforts. Engage every stakeholder so you can determine if the implementation has succeeded and 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.