WMS Implementation Teams – Roles & Tips
In this two part series, we’re going to talk about what we think a typical WMS implementation team should look like and give you tips on getting the right people in those roles. Keep in mind your team might look a little different if you are only going to implement one facility or multiple facilities, or if you are a 3PL planning on doing many diverse roll-outs as you onboard new customers. We’ll start with the two biggies – Program Manager/Project Manager and WMS Super User.
Program Manager/Project Manager (PM)
The Program Manager/Project Manager (PM) is going to be the glue that brings everything together:
- The PM might be an employee of the company who is installing the system or might be outside help that has been contracted for the project. In organizations that lack experience implementing enterprise systems, we think it is a good idea to seek outside help from someone seasoned and experienced, or to potentially hire someone to fill this role (as long as you have a role for them post-implementation).
- For companies who are planning on multiple roll-outs, or for 3PLs that need to build a core roll-out team, the PM should probably be internal.
- Another strategy would be to hire a coach or tactical project managers to guide the PM though the project if you have someone who has the project management skills but not the specific experience of WMS installs.
- There are well respected certifications for Project Management that you may want to either offer to your chosen internal resource or look for in an external one.
Typical skills for the PM will be strong organization, abstract thinking and effective interpersonal communication (for navigating corporate departments and politics as well as for forging good relationships with all parties that get engaged in an enterprise wide software implementation). It greatly helps if they are likable since they may be asking a lot of people to work off hours, weekends, holidays, etc.
It is important to set the expectation up front that the PM will need the support of the highest levels in the organization. We believe the best PMs are the ones who support the teams by removing impediments and getting the resources the team needs to be successful; those kinds of activities generally need high level support.
WMS Super User
The future WMS Super User is a key role that must be filled for the long term sustainability of the new system(s). Sometimes it is clear who will become the WMS Super User at the beginning of the project and other times it becomes evident as the project progresses and one individual clearly elevates themselves above the rest. We have seen many supply chain professionals get their start as WMS Super Users; it can be a life-changing event for that person.
The WMS Super User (or Users) will ultimately become the go-to person who will sustain the project post go-live. It is important that this person is in the right role organizationally so that they can be effective in the future. Sometimes they become part of the IT staff, other times they become part of the Inventory Control staff. It’s a good idea to think through how and where this person or persons will fit long term.
The WMS Super User might also be able to fill other roles based on the complexity and duration of your implementation:
- WMS Tester – they are often the best person to “push” data through the system for testing
- WMS Trainer – becomes the person who is responsible for training others on how to use the new system
There are many variables that will determine if your WMS Super User can wear multiple hats or if it might be best to contract out those temporary positions to seasoned experts. If you selected the right person for your PM, you will hopefully know what the best path is for your implementation.
We hope we got you thinking about the first two major roles you will likely need to fill to transition your organization into a new WMS. The remaining roles are covered in Part 2.