Growing pains are real phenomena in the business world, and they can certainly derail a perfectly laid plan for expansion. Many companies believe that a Warehouse Management System alone is sufficient to avoid growing pains, but that isn't always the case. There are many ways that Warehouse Management Systems can actually speed up your growth before you're quite ready for the challenge.
Planning for Labor Needs
One of the most talked about benefits of implementing a Warehouse Management System is how much it will save you in labor costs. The system itself is designed to streamline nearly every one of your processes, so you can get by with fewer physical hands. But what happens when the pace of sales suddenly ramp up now that your capacity to fill the orders has increased? You may find that you actually need to bring more hands on deck to keep up with the boom in business!
The key to managing this kind of growing pain is not hiring more bodies to fill the seats, but rather getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats, a concept first popularized by Jim Collins in his 2001 book Good to Great.
Planning for Infrastructure
The other area where companies often outgrow themselves is infrastructure. The Warehouse Management System works exactly as expected when it is installed, and it helps drive future expansion. That expansion may mean reconfiguring your existing warehouse, adding equipment or even going to into multiple buildings or sites. If your WMS isn't flexible enough to grow with you long term, you will soon find yourself needing to make even larger investments to keep up the pace.
The answer here is to plan your expansion in an orderly fashion and to pace yourself. Work with your IT team and your WMS integrators to set long-term goals, and write down key milestones along the way. As you expand, you will have a reference manual already in your hands to guide you through the next steps no matter how fast they happen.
It is impossible to know how any single move will impact your business overall, but it is always good to anticipate all of the possible outcomes ahead of time. Then it's up to you to make sure you are prepared for what comes next. If you have properly prepared yourself with a plan in advance, then you can largely manage growing pains without going off the track.