Making management work – The ‘M’ in WMS
“It’s not the big that eat the small – it’s the fast that eat the slow”. Mikael Holmqvist, Product Director at Consafe Logistics, looks at how fine tuning the management of your WMS helps you stay ahead of the race.
Get the best out of your people as well as your tools and your warehouse will operate at its full potential.
Managers need to understand what factors drive operational excellence. According to Mikael Holmqvist the key criteria to excellence in WMS are Structure, Culture, Communication, Leadership and Tools
Here’s why they matter:
You need to link objectives to the organisational structure, with well-defined forums and tools that all your teams can access and understand. Each staff member needs to know where they fit in the whole picture, why their input is needed and valued by the managers at a higher level.
A company’s culture creates an impression that every team member shows to the outside world. Managers are the flag bearers. They have to know what the company’s ethos is and be able to lead their teams to practise that culture in both attitude and behaviour. If there’s a change of direction and company policy, can managers understand what it is, and explain and train staff to embrace that new culture?
Communication channels have to work – right from the top down to the warehouse floor. Do your teams know what the company’s goals are? If they don’t, then they can’t carry out their tasks efficiently. Communicate goals, so they can be visualised in both the short and the long-term.
Managers need clear targets and tools to be able to do their job effectively. It’s important for feedback to go in both directions so those necessary changes can happen smoothly.
The question of course is whether your organisation has leaders or just administrators. And whether those managers can both set and follow clear targets. By its very definition, warehouse management changes often, therefore managers should have the ability to drive change. Managers should be able to develop individual skills and group dynamics. One way is by providing enough information and feedback on performance.
IT systems must support efficient processes. They must gather, analyse and deliver performance indicators. Is the business able to effect deviation management and solve problems as they arise with satisfactory results for all?
The other side of the coin. How a WMS solution contributes to better management
Naturally the right tools are the other part of the management puzzle. Using tools such as Astro WMS, SattStore WMS, and Effect Warehouse, companies can automate administration so managers can focus on managing people.
Advanced functions like adaptive multi-cycle, box calculation and other processes drive efficiency in operational execution. And performance management tools like RetroSpect improve decision making. WH3D and operational dashboards create better organizational commitment and execution by utilizing visualization. All these tools contribute to how man + machine can work together to create optimum efficiency.
Finally, Mikael sums up the importance of good management with a vivid scenario: "You’re on safari together with a group of other tourists. The jeep breaks down. It can’t be fixed. You’re surrounded by lions. They’re getting closer. There’s no water left. No chance of rescue. All you have is a pair of sturdy running shoes. The lions are getting closer. Put the shoes on and run as fast as you can.
The moral being that you may not be able to outrun the lions, but as long as you run faster than the next man, you won’t need to".