May 04, 2018
Apps are king and there is an app for everything. In today's marketplace there are ERP's, channel listing platforms, marketplace managers, shipping platforms and warehouse management systems. Integrating all of your systems into one can be a daunting task. Keeping all of your channels, accounting, and location management in line while processing orders and maintaining inventory can be intimidating. Defining your process and being aware of what each system does and how information flows between systems can lessen the intimidation factor and make the transition seamless.
When first embarking on integration of systems, planning and analysis goes a long way. Charting out systems of record and how information flows between systems are essential. A few questions to ask…
Where do orders originate? What systems are responsible for inventory?
Writing out a list of the complete functionality of each system should be helpful. A flow chart that depicts work flows and conditions should be drafted. Once a general workflow is dictated a sandbox integration should be put in place. Connect all of the systems in a usable state and practice tasks that need to be performed.If there is a warehouse management system in place, practice scanning inventory in and out. Make sure any paper documentation is correct and print accurate data. This is a dress rehearsal for a go live date that should be set.
In the testing phase the main thing you want iron out are the "what if’s". What if there is no inventory in stock once and order comes in? What do I do if the address on an order is wrong? What if there is inventory in the system but the order is not pickable? What if we have products on order and it has not arrived, but there is still an order for it. What if a product name changes? What if there is a UPC barcode on the product already? What if the document or labels don't print? Planning for these contingencies can save you time and money.
Finally the go live date has arrived. Now is the time to put the defined process into place and implement the actions. If the process has been documented all members of your organization will adhere to the workflow and there will be no guess work. Planning will have paid off and you will be smooth sailing.