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Warehouse Manager Role Has Gone Up a Level…

A fulfillment technology specialist is advocating warehouse management as an increasingly pivotal role in any company hierarchy and supply chain – as well as a higher level career path – because of the extraordinary logistical challenges we all now work in.

Don White, SnapFulfil CEO North America, said it requires a more focused and problem-solving skill set that’s infinitely adaptable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘new breed’ of warehouse manager to navigate our faster moving environment.

“It’s rather a ‘new and next level’ of effective operations leader who can quickly grasp and advance new software technologies and process improvements to promote greater understanding and efficiency,” explained White. “Those key drivers and attributes that first draw folks into distribution management – being able to coach and develop a team to meet definitive targets and efficiencies, plus having a strong ‘operator ‘ mindset – are still valued, but modern, digital warehousing certainly requires much greater depth and more varied IT skills.”

White also appreciates the COVID-19 Supply Chain – especially with the seismic shift taking place in online retailing – has become a lot more complex. Distribution operations embody that complexity, so the leaders of those operations must be much more than just drivers of traditional and bulk ‘pallet in, pallet out’ activity. They must now be innovators and continuous improvement advocates to survive and thrive.

Innovation in the warehouse primarily comes in two forms: advanced technology like SnapFulfil WMS and the agile, easily configurable processes it supports, plus the genuine creativity in breaking through process design. Continuous improvement approaches are the accepted method for measured success, but most distribution centers struggle to de-prioritize their established ways without technological assistance.

However, warehouse managers who bring curiosity to the table and who think creatively about improvement will have a distinct advantage over their peers. What’s more, designing a new process is a skill in itself and becoming increasingly important in the warehouse management field.

Technology selection and implementation within a warehouse used to be an IT or PMO-based activity, where the warehouse operations team was the internal customer, but not necessarily the driving force behind selection and adoption. This approach is now skewing and to best serve operations, warehouse managers need familiarity with software selection, programming, data analysis and project/implementation practices.

Warehouse managers should now approach their operations with continuous improvement as a recurring and given KPI and whilst there’s still value in the Lean/Six Sigma process, more creative methodologies like Theory of Constraints and Total Quality Management are taking precedent.

“I cannot stress enough though that – except for the most ‘customizable’ solutions on the market – the best implementations are driven by operations staff who can also dedicate themselves to the execution and realization of the new technology,” added White.

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