Looking ahead to the recovery phase – planning to implement a WMS


Although the COVID-19 lockdown has been extended for another three weeks in the UK, governments everywhere are coming under pressure now, to discuss how they will handle the transition back to normal life. A phased approach to business recovery will be essential and now, during the interim period waiting for the lockdown to be eased, is an ideal time for warehouse and IT management to be planning for their future technology needs whilst also preparing for demand levels to return to normal.

As one supply chain expert describes this time period, it means planning ahead for maximum agility, to ensure your company can emerge from the ‘tunnel’ that is Coronavirus disruption, sprinting and not crawling. This planning phase could involve buying in excess inventory to avoid future shortfalls, human resource management recruiting extra workers and, significantly for the long term success of the business, investing in key technology.

Using a warehouse management system (WMS) means you can tick off a number of these requirements simultaneously. A WMS increases the amount of inventory your existing warehouse can handle by 30%, whilst also preparing resource requirements for greater activity levels without having to increase headcount. This is a significant benefit and widely reported by existing Indigo WMS customers, who have found that implementing a WMS has enabled them to ‘do more with less’ – both in terms of space and staff numbers. Recruiters are already reporting it is even more difficult to recruit people into logistics and warehousing as demand for extra resources is outstripping supply, so any technology that allows warehouses to manage operations during the recovery period using their existing workforce will prove to be invaluable.

Planning for the recovery phase also requires warehouses to have as much stock visibility and accuracy as possible, to identify exactly what inventory they are holding and what they will need in the short to medium term. Data captured within the WMS will support planning, by supporting forecasting activities and ensuring high levels of ongoing stock accuracy.

Implementing a WMS offers many other benefits for your business, from reduced operational expenses to an improved working environment and improved customer service by ensuring more orders are delivered on time in full and minimising out of stock situations.


How to prepare for implementing a WMS

The first step when planning to implement a WMS is to understand and define the future supply chain challenges to be addressed. This ensures that the WMS supports and aligns with business strategy.

A WMS is a long term investment and the technology needs to be flexible enough to meet existing requirements and evolve for future developments in line with business growth. Working with your implementation team, Indigo’s consultants will conduct a full gap analysis, to demonstrate the functionality you need is available within Indigo WMS.

If your business is going through a quieter phase now, this could be the best possible time to plan for the future and invest in a WMS, because you have the breathing space to reflect on how warehouse operations can be further improved with the addition of technology. This is perhaps the single most powerful strategy to ensure your warehouse is ready for the sprint to full recovery.