We recently published posts about challenges and future trends in warehouse management systems (and software) that got so much attention on the internet. Many companies contacted us regarding those two articles and one of the questions many of them asked was “How does a business in Kenya start modernizing its warehouse?”
This post, therefore, addresses that question but in a less detailed manner. Of course, we want to keep it short and sweet so we will not go into all the details because every business is unique. To get more accurate information concerning your particular company, contact us.
Here are 3 steps distributors and manufacturers in Kenya and Uganda can take to modernize their warehouses
1. Project management
Due diligence is always a great place to start. And like many other complex initiatives, there are established project management steps your organization can use to stay on course and achieve your strategic objectives. Some of these steps include executive sponsorship, engaging subject matter experts (SMEs), involvement at all levels, vendor consultation, goal definition, risk assessment, change management, implementation schedules, and scope creep. Implementing a new WMS should follow these standards to be successful.
It’s important that you elevate a number of considerations that are specific to an investment in a warehouse management project. You must consider the physical space, the types of products involved, the services you provide, and your people.
2. Physical location
The foundation for all your plans is your physical location. Consider the size, layout, and geographic location of your warehouse or warehouses. How many warehouses do you have and how do they share inventory (if they do)? Does the size of your warehouse fit your current and future requirements, or do you need to consider a reconfiguration? Are you constrained by your location? Are there infrastructure changes that should be
made to increase automation? How can you more fully integrate the physical location with the solution in which you’re investing? Should you use material handling equipment (MHE) to allow you to better utilize space? Ultimately, make sure the solution you select will support your need to continue to evolve your physical space and have the flexibility to adjust the creative use of space.
Another consideration to make is whether you have special requirements for the actual products you carry. Do you have requirements for refrigeration, hazardous materials, regulated or secured products, or quarantined products? Do you need specialized equipment or certifications to move this product? How many SKUs are you sourcing from your warehouse? Do you need to customize any products? Do you own the products or does the vendor or customer own them?
As business models shift and services become an increasingly important aspect of your strategy, it’s critical that the execution of those services is seamless. What value-added services are you offering your customers and vendors today? What are your plans for the future? Will you need to track your inventory differently as it’s altered or repackaged? Do your products need to be sent out to a third party for some part of the process, then brought back in before being shipped to the customer? Do you need to set up dedicated workshops, or is it a more fluid process? How much extra movement is required to execute the value-added services? How can you ensure components are easily accessible, that products don’t get lost from point A to B, and that you always know where they are in the process?
Ensuring the empowerment of your employees is a factor that’s receiving more focus and attention today. The cost of recruiting, onboarding, and retaining good employees makes it imperative that part of your analysis is ensuring the solutions optimize their activities. Also, sometimes warehouse staff have different requirements compared to other departments within the organization. You may have more seasonality, temporary staff, or 24×7 operations. And while it may sound obvious to ensure the solution offers a good user experience, there are many variations on that subject. There’s demonstrable value in intuitive solutions that deliver fully integrated information needed by your employee. Other tools that employees rely on to streamline their day-to-day tasks include mobility, document management, easy access to information and reporting tools, easy onboarding, and cross-training.
In addition to following a solid project management plan, it’s critical for your organization to understand how you plan to elevate your differentiators through warehouse management modernization and do a careful analysis on exactly where you are today, what your goals are for the future, and what possibilities are on the horizon.