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Three Simple Steps to Minimizing Downtime When Upgrading Your Warehouse

In the words of many wise business owners and entrepreneurs: “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” The same thing applies to your warehouse. So, if business is booming and you’re seeing an uptick in SKUs and orders, the one thing that’s certain is that expanding or upgrading your warehouse technology and systems should be on the front of your mind.

You could be just branching into ecommerce and navigating the newfound challenges that come with an omni-channel system. You could be considering adding in picking and packing and increasing the value added services (VAS) you provide. Or, your warehouse equipment could simply be outdated and in desperate need of an upgrade. Whatever the reason, taking the leap to upgrade is a double-edged sword. If things are on the up, an upgrade or expansion that is not handled in a smart and efficient manner can quickly turn into a costly endeavor that needlessly sets you back if your downtime gets out of control. Here are three simple steps to follow when preparing for a big warehouse upgrade or incorporating new technology into your preexisting system.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Think Outside The Box

If your operation includes order fulfillment, odds are they’re extremely complicated because every system, workflow or technology all intertwine and interact with each other, making it difficult to make changes or adjustments. Plus, most companies that operate with an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality could have been using the same system for decades, making it tough to be creative and think outside the box.

With this being said, it is critical that your leadership team on this project take a step back and look at your system from a “big picture” view. With that sort of mindset, you’ll be able to come up with a novel solution that will help you put in place a system that makes the whole process easier.

That being said, it is equally important that you partner with someone who isn’t going to attempt to force a one-size-fits-all approach to your warehouse system. Your operation is entirely unique and the solution you pursue should reflect that.

2. Make A Detailed Plan And Stick With It

The Plan you and your team put together will make or break your upgrade process. It should be what you spend the most time on regardless of whether or not you’re going for a massive warehouse system overhaul or a simple upgrade. The more you plan the better the project will go.

There are five major elements you will need for your warehouse upgrade project plan. You will need to make a selection for both the system and technology to be implemented that takes into account the needs of the operation while minimizing downtime. You will need a detailed timeline outlining exactly what will happen and when it’s happening. You will need to understand what’s actually achievable given your timeframe and be cognizant of how easy it is to bite off more than you can chew. You will need to have a concrete pre-installation period where you get as many pieces in place as you can before the start of the official downtime and switch-over period. Lastly, you will need to source equipment, parts and personnel well ahead of time so you’re 100% certain you’ll be ready when the day comes to actually switch over to the new system.

3. Find The Right Systems Integrator For Your Project

This may seem self-explanatory, but there are plenty of warehouse systems integrators out there and more than likely only a handful that are able to fit exactly your needs. It’s critical that you take the time to find someone you trust that will help you with every phase of your project, from planning through installation. The three key attributes you’ll want to look for in this partner is that they are manufacturer- and vendor-neutral, experienced and transparent.

Having a vendor-neutral system integrator is important because you want to work with someone with your best interests in mind, not theirs. Experience is the best teacher available and finding a systems integrator with plenty of experience will ensure you’ll have support navigating unforeseen challenges and implementing a system that’s going to last. It’s obvious that one key to a successful business partnership is certainly communication. As such, transparency is going to be key so you’re aware of the what, how and when of each to-do on your detailed project plan.

If you are able to follow these three steps, your warehouse upgrade is sure to go off without a hitch. To find out whether or not CCS is the right partner for you, feel free to reach out and tell us about your project.

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