How to Manage a Warehouse

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Successfully managing a warehouse requires processes and procedures both easy to follow and execute. It also requires experienced, organized employees who understand the importance of their jobs. Receiving, storage, picking, packing, shipping and replenishment are the main areas involved in operating a warehouse and each area has its own unique challenges when it comes to management.

Things You'll Need

  • Previous warehousing and inventory experience
  • Standard operating procedures
  • Inventory management software
Successful managers surround themselves with quality people.
Successful managers surround themselves with quality people.

Step 1

Develop an operations plan that will allow the warehouse and its employees to meet the goals and expectations of the company and its customers, and will allow the warehouse to achieve the company's vision.

Quality planning provides a roadmap to follow
Quality planning provides a roadmap to follow

Step 2

Hire great workers to perform all the warehouse tasks, always willing to give a little extra as the job demands.

Quality people make success possible.
Quality people make success possible.

Step 3

Communicate expectations clearly to all employees. Both management and customers have expectations--overall and per job.

Clear communication leads to meeting expectations.
Clear communication leads to meeting expectations.

Step 4

Develop standard procedures for every warehouse task. This includes data entry, receiving, stocking shelves, lift-truck operation, picking products for orders, delivering products, shipping, packaging and more.

Written standards allow for consistent training.
Written standards allow for consistent training.

Step 5

Train employees on all procedures regularly. Provide refresher training every six months or whenever a procedure is changed.

Training leads to consistent performance.
Training leads to consistent performance.

Step 6

Create a cycle count program. This is the process of scheduling regular inventory counts, at least four times per year. Collect data from the analysis done at each count for future decision making.

Good decisions come from good data.
Good decisions come from good data.

Step 7

Track and measure all pertinent operational information. This includes cycle count accuracy, labor dollars per transaction, space utilization efficiency, transportation costs and annual inventory turns-- the frequency that inventory is sold during that time period.

Without knowing where you are, you will not know where you are going.
Without knowing where you are, you will not know where you are going.

Step 8

Encourage continuous improvement and process evaluation of all employees. No matter how well a process works, certain areas can always stand improvement.

Even a small change can mean positive results.
Even a small change can mean positive results.

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Tips & Warnings

  • Success in management comes from good people and good processes. Focus on these two things and the battle is half over.
  • Look to the employees for new ideas and better ways to operate efficiently. It is typically the employees who have the best ideas.
  • Make decisions based on measurements and facts, not emotions and guesswork.
  • Make sure there is a clear understanding of what is expected of the warehouse operations and its employees.
  • Treat all employees with respect and understanding.
  • Make sure to follow all agency guidelines for safety rules when performing operations.

References

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