Michael Weir, Managing Director of Microlistics, talks to MHD about the role of WMS and its importance in leadership development. He speaks about how the WMS provider assists its customers with ongoing problems, developing workers to become leaders, and how Microlistics has itself evolved its leadership capabilities during this new era of uncertainty.
Last year, Microlistics released its Gartner-rated, Tier 1 Microlistics WMS solution suite. It provides access to premium capability and functionality, on a flexible and accessible software as a service model.
Michael Weir, Managing Director at Microlistics, says that with the onset of the pandemic, Microlistics had to change its approach and factor in new elements to its WMS solution to solve new sets of problems. “Flexibility, an innovative mindset, and a willingness to step up is key to leadership in the WMS field – and we had a lot of leaders step up during the pandemic and demonstrate great value to us and, in turn, for our customers,” he says.
The update was in the works for two years and encompassed core enhancements that had been identified in the Microlistics R&D Roadmap, as well as enhancements built for individual customers.
The company says it focuses on speed, accuracy, and efficiency in the warehouse, and has heavily invested in product development and enhancements so its customers can operate more efficiently in an omnichannel environment, improve supply chain visibility, and simplify operational insights, and to deploy automation and software integrations more easily.
Microlistics says customers want to know exactly where their goods and inventory are, and what is available to them at what price.
The improvements include ones made to interface, the Microlistics Expansion Modules to maximise efficiency, particularly across its Warehouse Insights, Web Portal, 3PL Billing, and omnichannel order management, enhanced connectivity for seamless data exchange between the WMS and third-party applications, webfronts and marketplaces, and materials handling equipment and robotics.
Microlistics Cloud is a fully managed service with the company providing all aspects of deployment, including maintenance and optimisation so there’s no need for the customer to have its own internal IT capacity or supporting infrastructure.
It offers cloud hosting, incident management, continuous deployment, monitoring and alerts, backup and restore, security, and administration.
The Microlistics Web Portal was redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up to accommodate the needs of warehouse operators, providing a seamless online view of logistics operations to customers, suppliers, retail outlets and distribution teams.
The portal makes it easier for third parties – retail stores or the customers of a 3PL – to track what’s going on in terms of inventory management and movement.
LEADERSHIP IN THE TIME OF COVID
As Michael notes, the uncertainty of the last few years necessitated not only a re-configuration of Microlistics’ core offering, but also that new Microlistics leaders step up to the plate to effectively address customer challenges.
“Different leaders shine in different settings,” Michael says. “With our team oftentimes having to work remotely with clients during the implementation process, this presented a challenge to our normal way of doing things,” he adds.
“We had a lot of great people step up with innovative ways to understand warehouses and paint-points remotely – there was a lot more emphasis on conceptualising and understanding the ins and outs of a warehouse remotely and digitally, rather than being able to have traditional walkthroughs with our teams on the ground. Yet it’s not just leadership at Microlistics that has taken on new forms, it’s as much about new forms of leadership emerging on the warehouse floor.
“But what we’ve also discovered – via our new WMS, the conditions that necessitated it, and our strategy of incremental roadmaps for some clients – is that Microlistics WMS empowers workers in new ways and provides scope for new leadership from the ground up.”
Microlistics says there are three chief components that empower potential leaders of the future to take more charge on the warehouse floor – rather than just executing those orders delivered on-high from upper management.
“Firstly, I’d say that our WMS is increasingly geared towards devolving and sharing data, analytics, and transparency with all levels of a warehouse – not just the top managers,” Michael says.
“This has the potential to allow decision-makers at lower levels address issues and bottlenecks that might otherwise have been invisible to them – and proactively identify and even solve problems, instead of waiting for a lower-level problem to percolate to the top and waiting for the top-brass to recognise issues and recommend action,” he explains.
Microlistics says it also prides itself on working directly with those workers affected at different levels of a warehouse. During the implementation process – and when performing ongoing maintenance and consultation – the Microlistics team aims to educate, consult with, and create buy-in from all workers at all levels.
“I think one of our advantages – and this is particularly evident when we engage incremental roadmaps for WMS implementation, starting off small and broad before building up to greater complexity – is that we generate buy-in from all tiers of the warehouse,” Michael says.
“On-the-ground warehouse workers feel a sense of buy-in and, by starting lower down the complexity ladder, they have an opportunity to conceptualise and fully understand WMS and new technologies in ways they mightn’t have had a chance to before,” he adds.
“This has clear and immediate benefits in terms of upskilling workers, but the efficiencies gained through an effective WMS implementation also means that a lot of worker time is freed-up to engage in higher-order thinking, learning, and the kinds of problems that only lateral human thinking can deal with. This only increases opportunities for workers to develop their careers up the organisational ladder. So, I think in this sense, too, Microlistics WMS is helping to build the leaders of tomorrow.”
For more information on Microlistics, click here.