Tips of the Month - January 2021 This edition of our "Tips of the Month"…
Milner Browne have had an offering to the market for a Warehouse Management System for almost 8 years now. In those 8 years, the in-house developed solution has come from a basic, minor addition to the applications offered by Milner Browne to one of the leaders in the remote stock management offerings. Many of the functions and features applied were suggested, recommended and promoted by the requirements of our valued customers which brought it to where it is today. So that’s it. There you have it, yeah? Well…no!
As much as we would like to say that this is a finished article, we know it isn’t. The saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply here. Like driving a car, if we used that same logic, we would probably still be driving the Model-T Ford.
We are still developing our WMS solution, and this will never end. For example, we will be developing a returns process and involving an improved stock count functionality to our release as we know they are demanded but they had not been applied to date…just 2 elements of our roadmap that we are building on. So, we’ll add them and other industry standards, and industry leading functionality. But not the way we used to do it. Our approach up until January of this year we were managing MB WMS as a project. Partners required functions or customisation which was applied to the core application. But invariably this had a knock-on impact to other features…we suffered collateral damage on occasion. We had multiple versions of the same product in the marketplace. We had customised versions of the same product where useful features may have been welcomed elsewhere. We had to change our approach. And we did.
Since January we have evolved our approach to MB WMS as being one of product driven management rather than project driven management. You wha? What we mean is, we have addressed the issues that we saw with a team-based approach. We looked at assisting our existing customers with managing the product within its parameters rather than immediately going down the route of applying development changes. And this has helped reduce our support calls by 90% in this period. MB WMS is an extensively developed and versatile application already with many features that some partners are not aware of. So we advise them of the possibilities for change that already exist which may suffice.
But we’re not sitting on this success. We understand that functions as previously mentioned and the revolution of the application with modern management requirements, speed and metrics need to follow through. We need to, and will be refactoring the WMS code to stabilise it and making it more efficient, and all the time removing any risks of concern to our partners. We will be doing this by expanding our development team to manage our product and control releases. €2m of R&D will be spent at Milner Browne over the coming year and the majority of this will be for MB WMS.
So what does that mean, exactly? As well as stability and feature inclusions we want to perform the following:
- Make MB WMS SAP B1 v10 compatible
- Build in user Interface and User Experience improvements based on feedback and industry standards
- Build in Returns Processing functionality
- Improved stock count management, improved serialised item management for example
- Provide KPIs to manage and monitor performance – how is your WMS application and the operators doing
- Build and release Enterpryze WMS as an alternative option for those who may not use SAP B1 or who wish to operate more within the Enterpryze platform
- Stabilise product releases and advise all of our WMS partners of upcoming changes to version releases for potential adoption
- Carrier integration – bring the main carriers as an option to WMS as a standard.
But again, we would be naïve to think that we knew it all and this initial list is only the beginning. So we want to liaise with our partners on what WMS should be and what it should do. Without customers and partners, we’re just making it up. We plan to shortly create quality circles with partners to define the roadmap for WMS. Previous meetings have started that process as long ago as October 2019.
As part of this process we will be leveraging a Continuous Improvement cycle of our product. What needs to change, what is industry standard, what demands are coming up that require change. And then we can see what can we fix that isn’t broken.