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The Upside of Software Upgrades – Modern Materials Handling



The Upside of Software Upgrades – Modern Materials Handling

The Upside of Software Upgrades – Modern Materials Handling

Roberto Michel interviews Jason Yantiss, Open Sky Group, and other industry experts on the upside of software upgrades.  Here’s an excerpt from the article, publishing June 18, 2019 on both Modern Materials Handling and Logistics Management:

“For most warehouses, a WMS is the mother ship of software applications. In automated distribution centers, a WMS may coordinate with a WCS to drive production, but for DCs with largely manual processes and some WMS-directed order picking, WMS is the main system that needs upgrade attention.

“How difficult [WMS upgrading] is depends on the versioning,” explains Jason Yantiss, vice president of client services for Open Sky Group, a consulting firm that does WMS implementations and upgrades. “If you’ve been keeping up with the updates and service packs, going to the next version doesn’t really require a large project. However, if you’ve been on the same version for five or six years, and you’re comfortable with and have built up all this tribal knowledge around that version and have just stayed with it, then when it’s time to upgrade, the learning curve could be significant and the project itself deserves a lot more time and effort.”

Consulting firms like Open Sky Group help organizations with upgrades in various ways. Open Sky Group can do a WMS upgrade assessment to help an organization figure out the testing and training needed. It also uses an agile upgrade methodology to speed up the project itself. Generally, consulting firms can help in areas including end-user training on the user interface or dashboards, with testing integration, and with testing how the new version will execute established processes.

Open Sky Group’s implementation and upgrade expertise is around JDA WMS solutions. One mechanism it uses to ensure the new version will run smoothly, says Yantiss, is a type of testing called user acceptance testing or UAT. That UAT step brings a snapshot of data from the current production version into a test environment for the new version to verify that WMS processes like cartonization will run as expected.

It is possible to add new functionality with a WMS upgrade project, adds Yantiss, though it is usually best when the new version first goes live to get users proficient with its navigation on core functions before turning on entire new capabilities like slotting or labor management. “When you first go live, some things are going to be different, so you want to minimize the difference between the old way of doing things and the new way, so that it’s a more seamless transition,” says Yantiss. “Once the operation is used to the overall system, then you start to introduce some of new bells and whistles and efficiency gains from new functions like slotting.”

There are five main WMS upgrade questions your operation should ask before getting started:

Testing aspects of the integration with an organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, or an e-commerce platform if online orders come straight to a WMS, is typically part of a WMS upgrade project, says Yantiss. If the ERP isn’t being upgraded at the same time, the existing integration can usually be “ported forward,” says Yantiss, but with appropriate testing. “The new version may populate some [database] tables in a different way, so you want to dissect that,” he says.”

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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.

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