Data implementation in a warehouse setting ranges from simple to complex, depending on the type and volume of business. Typically, data that comes through the warehouse includes information related to shipping, receiving, stocking and, in some instances, space allocation and accounting. The top-down approach to warehouse data implementation involves warehouse managers and corporate decision makers deciding on the best data implementation approach and filtering directives down to subordinates.
In a top-down approach to warehouse data management, a warehouse manager or supervisor typically selects a data management software program that best meets the needs of the warehouse’s particular industry. For example, warehouses that ship and receive internationally may select a program that handles international currency conversion and operates on an international time clock to ensure accurate record-keeping and data storage. Warehouses that receive and distribute perishable goods may employ a data system that tracks not only shipment volume but also things like temperature, safe handling and shelf life.
The positive aspect of the top-down approach to warehouse data implementation is that warehouse managers and top corporate executives analyze the warehouse’s data system needs, compare various products, consult with accounting professionals in their industry and make a determination about the best approach to follow. Managers then train subordinates about how to utilize the systems once they are in place. Following this approach, a company maintains full control over the costs, inputs and outputs of its warehouse data implementation from start to finish.
When all decision making comes from the top with no input from subordinates, there can be miscalculations about the true needs of an organization. In the bottom-up approach to warehouse data implementation, front-line warehouse employees have input in the decision-making process about what type of system to implement. People with first-hand knowledge of the daily workings of the warehouse offer suggestions, explain what they see as the benefits of various systems and outline concerns associated with different systems. In this instance, management is still making the final decision about which warehouse data implementation system to utilize, though they do so with the input of the people charged with effectively utilizing the system on a daily basis.
Corporate decision making that employs the top-down approach is typically based on a company’s desire to maintain cost controls and have complete oversight of all departments. While this is a valid concept, a drawback can become apparent if a data implementation system is introduced with no input from those charged with operating it. Employees may be resentful their input was not valued, which can lead to a decrease in morale and productivity.