The single, most important lesson to be learned from your Warehouse Management System is that warehouse efficiency is a process, not an end goal. No matter how much waste you eliminate or how accurate you get, ongoing improvement requires regular revisiting on the part of your management team.
Warehouse Management Systems help improve warehouse efficiency by pinpointing areas for improvement. However, it is up to you to determine how you fix inefficiencies in your process. This requires some level of trial and error in the beginning as you test out different concepts. In the early days, you may check in constantly on a particular metric until you settle on the solution that shows the most promise. Then you'll move on to the next hot topic and spend some time troubleshooting there instead. But this is not the end of the line for your process improvement. The key is to work through each area of the warehouse methodically, without trying to change too much at once.
Check in Often
To see sustained results in your warehouse efficiency, it is imperative to have a system for checking in regularly. Two common occurrences stifle progress when it comes to making improvements:
- As soon as you turn your attention away to the next metric, things begin to slide back to their original state.
- The changes you made actually help to identify other inefficiencies in adjacent areas.
If you test out a new process and it seems to be working, don't assume that your work is done. Make a point of checking in monthly or quarterly to see how things are going. Once you've gone through your whole warehouse top to bottom, you can start cycling back through each focal point on a quarterly basis so nothing ever winds up on the back burner. This will ensure that the areas you've already worked on continue to improve with time, and that you can reopen the discussion if you discover areas that require more attention.
Don't Forget to Celebrate Your Wins
Even if it's impossible to pinpoint when you've reached maximum efficiency, you should still be able to celebrate milestones along the way. Celebrating your victories reminds your management team and your employees that the changes are paying off and encourages better engagement. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to share which parts of the new process are working smoothly and which ones need further development.
Warehouse efficiency doesn't happen overnight, even with the help of a robust Warehouse Management System. You should be prepared to take on efficiency goals one at a time, and perform regular assessments after you make changes. By adding ongoing improvements to your routine, you ensure that you will get closer and closer to perfect efficiency over time, and you will prevent things from sliding backwards after the initial effort.