When it comes to automating manual processes in the warehouse, distribution center, or on the factory floor, the right technology and the right solution provider are two critical pieces that can make implementation a success. At the same time, your mid-size business rules may not be a direct fit with the enterprise software and solutions that are being offered today. Finding a technology provider who will learn your business and create a system to maximize your strengths is one of the most important decisions you can make.
Your IT staff can’t do it alone
Choosing an expert to help you make important decisions from top to bottom regarding your operations is a smart investment. Think of it this way: Experts, like our team here at The SMS Group, have already discovered many ways to automate common processes with other clients. As a result, we bring a perspective and a depth of experience that is hard to come by internally.
Evaluating the experts
But all “experts” aren’t quite created equally. As you begin to search for a provider, here are a few questions you’ll want to ask in order to be sure you find the right match:
- Are their solutions flexible enough to accommodate your specific needs and requirements? Will their solution factor in business growth and process changes along the way? Your business is likely to change over the next five years, so understanding what their solutions are capable of handling will be important to the success of your growth goals.
- Can they provide a list of referrals that closely match your business? Even if they are not an exact match, this will give them an opportunity to share specific solutions they’ve deployed and performance metrics to give you confidence that they have what it takes to help you.
- What is their area of specialization? Is it software development, is it hardware configuration and deployment, or a combination of the two? What kind of support is available post-implementation? You’ll want to understand the value-add from your provider so you can be sure to partner with a company that can do more than sell you the equipment.
Narrowing down your requirements
Once you’ve learned about their experience and had an overview of solutions they’ve implemented, you can narrow down your requirements by focusing on the right tools for the job.
Here are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself to help your provider find the perfect solution for your application requirements:
- Are most items being scanned from a distance, or within arm’s length?
- In what type of environment will these devices be used? (cold storage warehouse, wet conditions, dusty/dirty, on shipping/receiving dock, high humidity, etc.)
- How many shifts per day will these devices be working?
- Will there be a need to track the equipment daily or as shifts change?
- Will all equipment be in one location or will devices be used in multiple locations?
- Are you interested in decreasing the amount of time your workers spend traveling from one location to another to complete a transaction?
- Will any of these devices be in use by a forklift operator?
- Will you need access to real-time information?
- How reliable is your current network in the warehouse? Are there dead spots or frequent outages? Trouble with bandwidth?
- What kind of budget are you allocating to updating your current technology?
- How many users do you have on staff during each shift?
Be sure to assemble an internal team to work through the process of choosing a provider. Selecting one person to represent each area of the business will ensure that all (or most!) needs are being considered and addressed. Choosing a partner with the capabilities and proven success can make implementation and ongoing support a more pleasant experience for both of you.
Got questions? We’ve got answers. Our expertise in data integration and automation solutions has enabled dozens of companies to leverage existing resources with complementary solutions such as barcode scanners and handheld mobile computers from leaders like Zebra. You can too. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.