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Independent Logistics Consultants vs. Systems Integrators (Pt. 5)

Posted by Jeffrey B. Graves, Principal on 02.17.14

PART 5: Change Management

For DC executives, using an independent logistics consultant versus a systems integrator is vital to the very set-up and running of an efficient and cost-effective distribution center. Three very critical factors differentiate the methodologies of independent logistics consultants from systems integrators: a) objectivity in system design; b) focus on the level of automation; and c) change management.

So far, we have compared independent logistics consultants to systems integrators with regard to the first two factors. This time we consider the attention given to change management.

Change management is a critical link in ensuring the smooth transition of new and upgraded DCs into functionally efficient live operations. It is so vital that inadequate change management can be isolated as a key reason why new DCs are not operating at full capacity.

Despite its importance, successful change management strategy is seldom fully embraced by systems integrators in projects that are under their management. This is evident in the many warehouse management systems of new distribution centers that are not adequately functional and fully utilized by the DC’s staff, in some cases years after they were completed.

It is also evident in the excessive number of cost overruns caused by system crossovers that were not properly planned and executed.

Systems integrators are focused on selling and installing equipment. A more holistic perspective is required for putting in place successful change management practices.

Implementing such strategies is better suited for independent logistics consultants who are uniquely equipped to embrace and coordinate the full functionality of all activities within the scope of the distribution center.

For example, before the DC goes live, the coordination of equipment testing, system conversion and equipment start-up is critical to ensure the interlinked material handling systems in the new DC come up without interruptions. Once the go-live or switchover takes place, it is vitally important for the DC’s staff to be fully trained in the operation of the WMS, WCS, pick station modules and the dozens of other functions involved with the operation of the new DC. This requires considerable coordination between equipment manufacturers and installers, the DC’s executives and operational personnel, and the company’s executive management.

Unless these activities are thoroughly addressed, the new DC will not operate at full functionality no matter how streamlined the automated equipment solution might be. The utilization of independent logistics consultants and their holistic approach encompassing the operation of the entire DC has proved to be the most effective option to achieving this objective.

We hope that you find the insights contained in this series helpful to your business. If there is any way we can be of assistance with your distribution or facility design needs, please feel free to contact us by filling out the form below..

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