Before deciding to buy a new system, executives conducted an internal evaluation to determine the feasibility and associated costs of developing in-house a new system with advanced functionality. “It was determined that an internally developed system didn’t make good business sense,” says Eaton.
On the catalog side, improved system reliability and reduced operating costs were two primary goals. Continuing its high order-accuracy rate, and perhaps even improving on it, was another goal. The Highlights catalog stocks myriad products and already achieves about 98-percent accuracy on its orders, thanks to a system of double and random checks. An enhanced WMS would enable Highlights to move past purely manual accuracy verification to automated order weight verification. “We’d be able to tell by weighing a package before it ships if it’s at the
projected weight based on the products ordered,” Eaton explains.
A New Solution
Once Highlights decided to buy a system, they hired ESYNC, an operations consulting firm that specializes in systems integration, to help them select the right system. Highlights purchased Manhattan Associates’ PkMS Warehouse Management System software in conjunction with a Manifesting application from Kewill.
ESYNC devised a project roadmap for Highlights’ staff to implement the system. Highlights started the process using only internal resources. But after several months, things weren’t progressing as anticipated. The staff grew concerned about the implementation target date, says ESYNC’s Tom Kirkham, project manager for program.
Eaton says, “The data was starting to slip; we weren’t going to meet our schedule. Those were the tough days; we had released ESYNC and decided to do it with internal resources. We clearly underestimated what was involved in implementing such a complex system. We simply didn’t have the expertise in-house.”
Project Back on Track
Highlights turned to ESYNC for advice on getting the project back on track to meet the implementation deadline of March 1, 2002. “We had ESYNC do a two-week assessment to determine where we really were in the implementation process. We asked them: ‘Are we indeed in trouble of not meeting the implementation deadline?’ They said, ‘Yes,’” recalls Eaton.