Happy New Year! 2019 is well underway and off to a great start. Over the last 6 months, Columbian Logistics Network has been hard at work implementing a new warehouse management system to better support the needs of our customers. The all-hands-on-deck rollout of Synapse has been completed on time, on budget, and is actively serving customers with optimized reporting, customizable billing and enhanced ecommerce capabilities.
Why Make a Change?
Over the last few years, we’ve made upgrades to our transportation management system (TMS), our accounting system, and our yard management system (YMS), all to better service our customers across our transportation and integrated service offerings. With those business units now operating on world class software, we turned our eye toward our warehouse business. While our legacy WMS system had performed well for us over many year and through a 20+ year relationship, we came to the realization that in order to fuel an aggressive growth strategy, we needed to upgrade our capabilities in our core business of public warehousing. Today’s WMS products are more agile, more resilient, and more secure than what we were working with, and it was time to bring our public warehouse operations onto a more current platform.
Synapse is a WMS product, provided by a company in Downers Grove, Illinois called Zethcon. The leadership team at Zethcon holds over 100 years of experience in the 3PL warehouse industry, backed by a strong foundation in relational databases and software interface development. Zethcon is a highly involved member of numerous industry groups and active on the national conference speaking circuit. After surveying more than a dozen providers from around the country, we chose Zethcon for their leadership, their vision, their community of active users, and most importantly, their product. We believe that we now have the top of the line WMS product available to public warehouse operators anywhere.
How did we do it?
Let’s be honest, it was A LOT of work. Dating all the way back to 2016, we at Columbian started to consider whether we wanted to take an upgrade to the latest version of our existing system or go shopping. In that process, we executed nearly a thousand different business process scenarios, ultimately coming to the agreement that we needed to look around the marketplace for another product. In 2017, we executed a RFI process that started with 13 providers responding, then 6 of those placing bids, a final 3 candidates, and ultimately Zethcon winning the business. That process took most of the year in 2017, and we signed an agreement in late December of that year. In 2018, it was all systems go for the rollout. We started with technical integration in January, Super User training in February, and our first clients went live in March. For the rest of the year in 2018, every single member of the Columbian team had a hand in delivering a successful integration. Some were directly involved, and some not. Some were directly impacted, and some only informed. Either way, the scale and scope of the change of a WMS system affects more users, more business processes, and more customers than any other change in an organization like ours. A hearty thank you and congratulations goes out to the project team and the entire Columbian base who made this transition happen.
What’s in it for the Customer?
So what’s in this change for the customer? A lot! Synapse is a SQL database, which makes accessing data, rendering it, and manipulating it for reporting far simpler. We have more ways to set up and design our billing processes for customers who need unique billing solutions that previously were tracked manually. We have a better interface into parcel shipping systems, as well as e-commerce platforms for direct to consumer shipping. To further bolster our capabilities in an Amazon-driven world, we also have better order batching and wave releasing capabilities than we ever had. We offer a far simpler template for importing orders and receipts, eliminating the need to contact a customer service representative for every single shipment. To put it simply, it’s never been easier or more transparent to do warehousing business with Columbian Logistics Network, and we’re pretty proud of that.
Where do we go from here?
So where do we go from here? We grow. We are better poised to grow into deeper relationships with existing customers. We are poised to provide warehousing and value-added services to a broader set of new customers. We grow faster. We grow more economical, and we grow more agile. This transition is directly in line with our core values of Performance, Agility, and Legendary Customer Service. We welcome both current and future customers to reach out and ask us how Synapse can help Columbian meet your business goals.
Our silence from last year, like our implementation project, is a thing of the past. Expect to hear and see more from us in 2019, and we look forward to building Columbian into the preeminent provider of 3PL services in our area. Happy New Year!