When upgrading to a new WMS or upgrading the version of the current WMS, the inclination is often to recreate the current system. Some feel all processes, reports, enhancements, etc. must work exactly the same as they do today. However, this is usually not the best approach.
You must remember that there’s a reason you are upgrading the current system. Modifications are costly, open up more opportunities for bugs, and can impede your upgrade path. If you want the new system to behave exactly the same as the old one, then why are you upgrading to begin with? Before duplicating existing functionality ask yourself:
Is this really still used?
You may find if you really ask questions that no one is even using this functionality any longer. I’ve had experiences in the past where a customer has asked to duplicate an existing report, integration transaction or enhancement and when trying to determine the requirements, no one even knew what it was used for. If a system has been in place for many years, the need for this functionality may have faded out long ago.
Can I change my process to adapt to the system?
The operation doesn’t usually like to hear this. “There’s a reason we do things this way.” However, software companies spend a lot of time on money on research and development to provide a product that can adhere to industry best practices. While some processes may be necessary and specific to your company, if the standard process works for hundreds of other companies, there’s a good chance it will work for your operation as well.
Do I really NEED this?
This is another one the operation doesn’t like to hear. “If we are supposed to be upgrading to a better system, why should I lose functionality I currently have today?” It can be difficult to manage the expectations but if forced to justify functionality, they often realize themselves that while this may be “nice to have”, it’s really not necessary. It may be best to wait to see what is really needed. Which brings me to my next point:
Can this wait?
You won’t fully realize the intricacies of the new system until it has been up and running for a while. Too many times I’ve seen large, budget-busting enhancements go by the wayside as soon as the operation realizes how the system really works. If something isn’t needed day one, the results can be much better if you can wait to determine the best approach moving forward. It may be determined that the change isn’t needed at all, or a completely different approach is necessary.
Is there a realistic ROI?
You may often get one answer when asking the questions above, but when asked to justify an ROI, the answer can change. If a costly enhancement is needed to save one user 15 minutes a week, you may never realize the ROI before it’s time to upgrade again.
After asking these questions, there will still be necessary enhancements. I’ve never been part of a WMS implementation that didn’t involve customization. However, by keeping the enhancements limited to what is necessary, you’ll have a better chance at a successful implementation.
With a new upgrade, you’ll undoubtedly be getting new functionality that can benefit the operation. Remind them of this when making sacrifices to existing functionality. While a process may have to change in one area to adapt to the new system, there will be benefits to offset this in other areas. Remember, there’s a reason you are upgrading your WMS.
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