Going from a paper-based warehouse to a warehouse management system can be a challenge. Moving from a best effort or best intention to the demands of an accurate sequential workflow can bring an operation to its knees in short order.

For us, moving to a warehouse management system was really a decision of necessity. The economy was slowing, our inventory adjustments were exceptionally high—inside sales people that would rather trust their own eyes/hands by touching the product rather than counting on data in the system—time to pick product was inconsistent and lengthy. 

Basically, we needed to find ways to save money and do it quick. We realized a return on our investment within the first year. The project essentially funded itself.

When the Parksite logistics team calculated the benefits that tighter controls would contribute to the business, one of the first steps was to get the information technology group involved from the beginning. We believe that you simplify a project and mitigate risk by aligning business units and IT in the earliest stages of a project.

The final selection of the warehouse management system was the integrated module of our Enterprise Resource Planning system from Pronto Software.

During the process, we faced many challenges, such as technical issues like improper coverage for our RF guns, data challenges with incomplete or inaccurate product descriptions, and dimensions. Each challenge was brought up in front of the cross-functional team and then ownership was assigned to those best equipped to solve the problem.  

Not every problem was a clear-cut IT or logistics issue. Many problems overlapped the business units. The multi-disciplined problem resolution team would discuss, assign, test, and implement solutions nearly as fast as they were reported. Teamwork makes a difference.

The alignment of people and the implementation process allowed for this small team to implement one new location per month, all without missing a single beat or hour of production and was seamless to our direct customer.

Indeed, an aligned group is key in supporting the business of Parksite in many ways. That alignment is achieved through partnerships.

Communication is the glue of an aligned technology group in our business. Through communication, respect is reinforced and trust is built. Communication allows technology roll-outs to occur much more smoothly. Talking to our business partners also helps solve problems as they occur or, even better, anticipate and prevent them.

Partnerships do not occur naturally or by decree, they take effort to build and maintain. Partnerships help us to understand the needs of our customers, market, and business.

I believe for us that true sustainable innovation happens by and through our partnerships and those relationships help us to assess the need then define and implement the solution.

Solving business problems generally involves a tremendous amount of hard work, but it does not need to be difficult.

-Blake Chadick is Parksite’s director of information technology.