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Process Improvement in the Warehouse


Process improvement is a systematic business approach for enhancing workplace procedures. Start by assessing your current procedures against industry benchmarks. Next, decide on metrics to measure current procedures. Finally, implement action plans for data mining. The data will reveal any issues with your current processes, so you can improve your procedures and business performance. To help you incorporate process improvement successfully, we’ve taken a closer look at the method.


Benchmarks compare business processes and performance metrics against industry and competition standards. They help identify procedural gaps and improvement targets. For example, if you’re looking to improve your bulk storage procedure, what methods are your competitors using? Are they storing bulk items on pallet racks or mezzanines? What is the industry suggesting as a solution? And what is the most practical option for your business? Some of the sources to help you keep up to date with the latest information are:

  • Industry blogs, magazines, and newsletters
  • Survey groups and studies
  • Consultancy with industry experts
  • Conferences and conventions
  • A market analysis on your competitors
  • Internal benchmarks within other departments of your organisation



Establish your metrics by defining improvement goals with your benchmarks. Refine your improvement goals by comparing them against your corporate goals. And choose metrics that will be the most useful for your warehouse and business. If your goal is to increase sales, then the metrics you’ll measure will be different to the ones you’ll need if you were looking to reduce your costs. The main thing to remember is that your metrics should test reliability, flexibility, costs, and asset utilisation.


Areas to measure can include:

  • Receiving
    • Dock efficiency and cycle times
    • Ensuring correct order before putaway
  • Inventory
    • Accuracy
    • Tracking
    • Storage
    • Organisation
    • Loss prevention
  • Picking
    • Staff
    • Methods
    • Procedures
    • Order cycle time
  • Packing
    • Methods
    • Efficiency
  • Distribution
    • Docks
    • Dispatch
  • Communication
    • Staff
    • Management
    • Customers
  • Customer satisfaction
    • The accuracy and speed of orders


Action Plans:

Now that you have a list of processes and procedures to measure, it’s time to incorporate an action plan to gather data. An action plan will outline who is responsible for the data gathered; the completion date; and the expected results. The action plan should be communicated to your staff at a staff meeting and they should be given a chance to give feedback. Review your metrics program regularly and ensure your review process includes meeting with staff for more feedback. Get staff involved as much as possible, to ensure data gathering is completed properly.


The best way to drive productivity and efficiency in a warehouse is with continuous process improvement. Benchmarks give you valuable information for your metrics and clear direction for your process improvement. Once new processes and procedures have been implemented, metrics will also confirm whether the action taken has solved the problem or not. Process improvement can be a valuable management tool, if implemented correctly.


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