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People Planning Promotes Peak Performance


People Planning Promotes Peak Performance

October 5, 2021

How Proper Planning Can Help You Get More Out of Your Next WMS or Labor Implementation

For many supply chain organizations, the idea of implementing a new warehouse management system (WMS) or labor management system (LMS) will evoke one of two reactions: a) “Oh, no. Everything is going to change, and I might be out of a job within a few months,” or b) “Oh, yeah. We have needed this change for a long time, and we are now going to rocket our business on to the next level.”

Notice that both reactions are very human in nature. The software itself will do what it is going to do, so be careful about how you select it. The people side of your implementation is where your business will feel the greatest impact. To ensure the best possible outcome beyond system launch, prepare carefully to ensure a positive team experience.

How do you define success?

To ensure the best possible WMS/LMS implementation, it is critical to bear a few key things in mind upfront.

Start with strong leadership

Successful implementations start at the top. C-level buy-in brings everyone in. From there, populate your project team with ringers: a top IT exec, a veteran employee who knows the ropes, an expert outside consultant or partner from the software company. Fill in the roster with champions from across the organization: folks from operations, accounting, finance, sales, and customer service, being sure to provide for all locations across the company.

Explore needs, wants, and desires

Consider this your chance to get everything on the table that might be holding your operations back. Allow space to hear needs, wants, desires, and concerns from every corner. Be sure to survey those who will only hear about the project (i.e., customers, salespeople), see the project (i.e. transportation folks, service reps), and use the project (i.e., folks on the warehouse floor). Then draw your plans with these ideas in mind and define KPIs to hold your team on course through delivery.

Prepare your worksite

With your team and plan in place, the next step is to physically prepare the actual worksite where your new system will operate. Review your warehouse layout to ensure that software commands are practically aligned with physical locations on the floor. Are your workflows in order? Can everything on the system be sequenced in reality? Are your racks in place and robots activated to receive commands and provide input? Remember, your software will not be operating in a vacuum. Plan accordingly.

Avoid customization

There was a time when customization was the way to go, but modern WMS/LMS software has come a long way since then and, quite frankly, customization is too costly to endure. To start, writing code is expensive. The changes it makes downstream often require additional code changes. As each customization cascades across the system, suddenly your software is out of warranty, incomprehensible to anyone attempting upgrades, and fast on its way to obsolescence. Best advice: work within the confines of the software, adjust workflows to accommodate where possible, and avoid customization at all costs.

Consider the integrations

Modern enterprises are run using a variety of software solutions for a variety of business purposes. These applications must work together in order to keep the business rolling. That includes vendor systems that interface with specific house assets. Therefore, it is vital to factor in the integrations upfront. Find out what data is needed by each interrelated system and task your cross-functional team to plan how that data will make its way back-to-front to ensure a streamlined, end-to-end solution.

Manage change

You can be sure, adopting a new solution will expose entrenched processes in silos across your organization. Some of these will be considered “sacred cows.” Take this opportunity to scrutinize everything. Ask why. Examine alternatives. And most important, engage your people in the dialog. We’ve already talked about the “hear-see-use” groups. These are the folks you will need to engage to make your “go live” not only productive but a celebratory event once you flip the switch. Communicate early and often and market your project from day one. Set up a communications team to issue emails, updates and hold meetings. With everyone on board, the change will be positive. No one will be left out.

The Bottom Line

Before you launch any new WMS/LMS project, measure twice, cut once. Enjoying the fruits of a new system – including new cost efficiencies, improved margins, and a better all-around user and customer experience – depends as much if not more on the people part of the equation as the actual software deployed.

Do you want peak performance from a new solution? Promote it by performing proper people planning upfront (or, P3, if you want to get fancy).

Looking for more information on the critical elements of WMS and Labor implementations? Download our ebook.

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich


Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.