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Process Flow: The First Step

By Tom French

Tom FrenchNow more than ever the conversation about data management is ever pressing.  With so many systems and devices constantly being introduced or improved upon, many companies feel a sense of urgency to capitalize on maximizing their profits within their supply chain by implementing new data tracking systems.  The instinct is valid, but the process requires some strategy.

In the May 2013 Logistics Management Issue their cover story “Real Time Visibility Within Reach” was a comprehensive article with nuggets from industry followers providing updates and trends on the growing importance of Automatic Data Capture (ADC), Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Global Trade Management Systems (GTM).

In the article the most prevalent insights were touched upon by John Hall in the WMS section where he stated, “Well defined workflows and procedures have always been important to laying out the proper foundation for successful WMS configuration and deployment, but never more important here.”

Also, in the inset article “Research: Overcoming WMS Upgrade Fears” Ian Hobkirk states, “Adequately defining business requirements upfront is still the most important thing a company can do to ensure success.”  These statements are so true.  More often than not companies do not have their business requirements defined and their current “AS IS” process flow mapped.

The process flow mapping exercise is especially important in order to provide visibility to what processes steps can be eliminated or automated with the WMS.  Most companies want to jump right into process flow mapping and skip to the end, reaping the potential benefits of properly processing data.  But until the existing process is identified, even the most sophisticated WMS is only as good as the information you know to give it.  This is why it is vitally important to first map the “AS IS” process.

The overall theme to the article is exciting for the Supply Chain Management field, as data capturing is getting easier and more affordable.  But the true savings are unquestionably linked to properly identifying the existing process so that the desired outcome can come to fruition.

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