What are the 7 Critical Traits of a Warehouse Project Manager?
Perhaps the most crucial role in the successful implementation of a warehouse management solution belongs to the Warehouse Project Manager who we call a Warehouse Champion, that’s the person who, regardless of their position within a company, has the clout, know-how, management skills, and enthusiasm to oversee a WMS roll-out and the next several years of warehouse operation.
When it comes to introducing a warehouse management system into a distribution environment, we find that businesses who do not designate a Warehouse Champion do not experience smooth roll-outs. That is why the Warehouse Champion is so important; the Warehouse Champion is not just a designated point of contact for WMS implementation. The Warehouse Champion is a true advocate for the warehouse as a valuable business asset.
Where do Warehouse Project Managers or Champions come from?
The Warehouse Champion can be an IT manager or a warehouse floor supervisor. She can be a CEO or an accountant. He can be an outside project management consultant or someone who has been with the company for decades.
In order to properly manage a distribution facility and technology rollout, the Warehouse Champion needs to be someone who is onsite, project-managing operations. It’s not someone who rose through the ranks through attrition; rather, the Warehouse Champion has become a logistics expert by choice, and has the ability to objectively observe warehouse practices in order to improve them, and has some project management skills.
Warehouse Champions can come from all corners of a business, but regardless of how they rose through (or joined) the ranks, for every successful WMS rollout, PathGuide has been able to pinpoint and work closely with a Warehouse Champion.
What 7 traits do most Warehouse Champions share?
In PathGuide’s 30+ years of experience, the most effective Warehouse Champions share the following 7 traits:
1. Exceptional leadership skills
An effective Warehouse Champion must have the kind of leadership skills that allow for effective management of teams and projects, as well as the kind of charisma and know-how that engender trust from warehouse staff and the rest of management.
2. Belief in technology as a solution
A Warehouse Champion believes that embracing automation technology is critical to growing the distribution business while remaining competitive. While there are many different avenues that will help a warehouse staff increase job efficiency, such as advanced training and exceptional organization, nothing comes close to improving a warehouse’s operational efficiency like warehouse automation technology. This includes everything from barcode scanners and a well-integrated warehouse management system, to solutions like parcel shipping and even carousels and voice picking.
3. Understands that better efficiency = better business
A Warehouse Champion understands that improving warehouse processes will save time, reduce costs, and improve customer service. Beyond reduced costs, a more efficient warehouse can improve customer retention and increase sales. Warehouse Champions know that the entire business benefits when customers are happy.
4. Considers warehouse management a career
Warehouse Champions see their role in the warehouse as a true value-add. A Warehouse Champion is dedicated to a single organization for the foreseeable future. If a Warehouse Champion is a consultant, then that person is committed to seeing the full implementation of a warehouse automation solution through, from start to finish (and perhaps beyond).
5. Sees the big picture
Although a Warehouse Champion is not bogged down in minute details, the best Champions have project manager skills and able to see both the forest and the trees. A detailed understanding of how the warehouse operates is essential, but a good Warehouse Champion also knows when to stay out of the weeds.
6. Sees the warehouse as the heart of a business
A warehouse isn’t a minor asset when it comes to distribution businesses – it’s the very center. If the warehouse isn’t operating a peak efficiency, then neither is the rest of the organization. Rather than assigning blame, the Warehouse Champion innovates and drives change in the warehouse.
7. Relies on actual data to improve operations
A Warehouse Champion requires hard data, rather than anecdotes, to measure improvements in warehouse efficiency. Because you can’t manage what you can’t measure, a Warehouse Champion insists on having access to the kinds of technological tools that allow detailed measurements and analysis of warehouse performance. They know it’s important to have on-demand access to warehouse performance data, at any time, from anywhere. They want reports and charts to track employee and warehouse productivity, offering visibility in all warehouse activities (picking, receiving, cycle counting, etc.), by branch, employee, error type, etc.
For more information on performance metrics, read how Jensen Distribution Services uses metrics as a key component of their world-class warehousing, including their use for building employee commitment and morale.
Let PathGuide help you turn your warehouse employees into warehouse champions!