Tag Archives: WMS Software

What is a Cable Industry Self-Install Kit?

A Self-Install Kit is a great option for individuals that prefer to handle the installation themselves. The house must qualify for a kit by having the proper infrastructure to turn on service without a service technician. If a home qualifies, the self-installation kit is sent to the customer, and they can usually get their cable service started the same day. Online resources, including cable installation help videos and Cable FAQs are available for assistance.

Self-Install Kit Benefits

No Technician Needed

Typically, cable company employees won’t be needed for installation. This is beneficial for the cable company because:

  • Technicians can work on more complex tasks.
  • Truck rolls cost $90-$200 for the company.
  • Scheduling is no longer an issue.
  • The customer can usually get their service started the same day without waiting for a technician.

Less Exposure

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this had a different meaning, but it still holds true today. At the time, nobody wanted strangers in their homes, so self-install kits were vital to making cable installations possible. There is still risk today, fewer home visits mean less risk for the technicians, cable subscribers, and property.

Cost Savings

Self-Install Kits keep customer-employee interaction minimal if the processes are correctly integrated.   Cable companies can expect to see increased efficiency with:

  • Warehouse Picking
  • Packing
  • Shipping and System Updates
  • Installation Procedures

Learn more about how WDS solves other logistics challenges.

Key Components to Efficient Self-Install Kit Deployment


Self-Install Kits require clear messaging from the moment a kit is purchased. The cable customer needs to know they are responsible for installation. The benefits to the customer should be clear and upfront in the purchase process. Self-Install Kit delivery updates should be automated and sent to the cable subscriber, so they know when a kit will arrive. Installation instructions should be simple and easy to follow, with easy access to self-help options. The activation process must be quick and easy. Reducing customer interaction with a straightforward and concise self-install kit program will save you and the customer time and money.

Order Fulfillment

Make sure you have a plan for packaging and inserts. Orders typically need to have more information included with them than a typical tech installation. A cable installation technician can read and relay MAC addresses, serial numbers, etc., but a subscriber should have this inventory information included when they receive their self-installation kit.

Packing kits can be different than standard order picking. Be prepared to have a good team handling self-install orders so all outgoing self-install kits are of the highest quality. Mistakes during order fulfillment will negatively impact the cable subscriber’s experience.

Consider a 3PL that has experience with complex packing processes and order fulfillment.

Integration, Integration, Integration

One primary key to success is ensuring all your order fulfillment systems integrate. In an ideal world, your order system will communicate with your billing system to see if the subscriber is eligible for self-install kits. Then it will communicate with your WMS to validate what is in stock. The order will be submitted to the WMS, which should communicate to the billing system what serial numbers and MACs are associated with an order, so the status of that customer can be updated.

It should also integrate with a shipper (UPS, FedEx, etc.) to automate shipping and convey the tracking information to your CRM. Finally, your billing system should be updated once the kit is delivered to start the billing process.

How do we (WDS) fit into this?

We have experience implementing various integrations between the systems to help automate the SIK process. We also sell our own warehouse management software (WMS) which is specific to the cable/telecom industry that integrates with the SIK APIs. Self-Install Kits are a fantastic option for deploying customer premise equipment, but they come with a lot of complexities.

Contact us to find out more!

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What are the major logistical problems in the Cable, Installation and Service Industries?

What are the major logistical problems in the Cable, Installation and Service Industries?

The logistics of moving equipment can be complicated when working with multiple people in different locations.

There are many unique logistical situations for service businesses, particularly those in the cable, trade, and installation industries. These businesses often rely on a combination of equipment and people to complete their work. This means that they must be able to transport their equipment—whether it’s a specialized drill or electrical box—and get it where it needs to go.

Mobile Warehouses

Service trucks are mobile warehouses and should be treated as an extension of your inventory. Employees must manage them, but the inventory should be visible in your warehouse inventory management system.

If the inventory isn’t managed and tracked, you will face inventory management problems including:

  • Extra inventory from a job lost
  • Inventory shortages and overages
  • Additional time and money spent doing physical counts of inventory
  • The Blame Game happens when someone is looking for an item and can’t find it resulting in lost productivity.

Multiple Inventory Models

These industries often have multiple inventory models in one operation.

  • Service Model – The technician specs and orders the equipment from the warehouse for a specific customer job. Example: The electrician orders all the materials needed to replace a breaker box at a customer’s
  • New Construction Model – Large jobs are specified and bid on well in advance. Inventory is typically ordered and released in a phased approach (e.g., pre-construction infrastructure, rough-in, finishing, etc.). Materials can be ordered in advance and require less urgency.
  • Tool Room – Technicians require additional or more expensive tools to complete a job. They make a request from the tool room, use it, then return it. These tools are independent of their standard inventory. It is also cyclical and requires preventative maintenance and quality assurance.
  • Direct to Consumer – In some cases, especially in the telecommunications industry, the telecommunications technician is being bypassed so the customer can receive their cable self-install kit and do some of the work themselves.

Wireless Data Systems will help you find an inventory management solution to transform your operations. We understand that each logistics and inventory management challenge requires a unique approach; contact us today at (561) 488-5540 for a free consultation or click here to request a demo.

Reducing Custom Software Development Costs

Custom and semi-custom software can solve problems off-the-shelf solutions just can’t do. The reason is obvious: off-the-shelf software is meant to appeal to broad audience while custom solutions are tailored for a specific set of solutions.

The downside of custom software solutions is cost. While off-the-shelf software effectively spreads the cost over a large user base, custom code has a targeted scope. Companies must balance the cost savings of going with a pre-packaged program plus consider the additional cost of swivel chair and manual processes required to make up for its lack of features. This incremental cost of making up for the lack of functionality of a canned software package may far outweigh any savings in the software itself. It could end up costing your company more in the long run.

To help overcome the initial development costs of a custom or semi-custom software solution, companies should consider a transaction-based or pay-per-use model. These pricing models are becoming widely embraced, particularly by those with low volume needs or those whose usage fluctuates in and out of peak periods.

While every pricing model has different impacts, a pay per transaction model has compelling advantages:

  • Cost of initial development
  • The amount you pay is tied to the number of transactions placed, and ideally, the revenue being made
  • The system provider is equally invested in the success of the system
  • No need to manage user licenses

Obviously, there are things to consider when pursuing a transaction-based model, such as:

  • The amount paid over time could end up costing a lot more than a traditional licensing model
  • The incremental cost can become a financial burden if other operational costs are not in line with revenues

If your company’s transactions are tied positively to revenues, then the transaction model likely makes sense. It also reduces the exposure should transaction levels not achieve anticipated results.

If revenue and transactional volume are not positively related, you may have larger problems than a transactional model can solve.

Obviously, not all software providers offer a pay per transaction pricing model. At WDS, we pride ourselves on providing the exact solution our clients require. This includes pricing our solutions in a way that helps our customers achieve their operational and financial goals. That could be transaction-based pricing, perpetual licensing, or a hybrid of both that enables manageable startup costs and balance flexibility with predictability. The important thing is that we partner with our clients to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

If your company is facing challenging software and support costs, a transactional model may be the way to go.

Data Integrity & Security

A company’s data is now considered one of its most valuable assets, so it should make sense to do everything possible to protect it. Data loss also includes losses in productivity and data restoration costs. Operating systems, software, and even hardware can be replaced, but data is not so easily recoverable or replaceable.  Data integrity is a must for businesses of all sizes.

Just as a business owner will purchase insurance to protect their physical business assets, a backup acts as “insurance” against data loss incidents. Backing up ensures that data is easily recoverable and operations aren’t affected as much.

Backup best-practices:

  • Maintain at least 3 copies in different formats such as physical media and cloud
  • Backups should be encrypted to ensure only authorized users can access it
  • At least one backup should be kept offsite and off-network
  • If time for full-backup becomes an issue, consider prioritizing the most important data and data that has changed

Maintain security patches. Staying updated on your security hardware and software is crucial to ensuring that its working at its highest performance capability. Automatic updating keeps your system working with the most current anti-malware and antivirus signatures

Secure all aspects of your business including:

  • Using spam filter on email
  • Ensure firewalls and anti-virus software is maintained and up-to-date
  • SSL security on company website
  • Reviewing access control and roles for all employees and who can access what
  • Remove outdated and unused software from servers and users machines.

Other tips:

  • Be sure to securely wipe old devices of data. If a device or hard drive is damage, make sure the data on it can never be accessed.
  • Test your back up and security processes to make sure they are doing their intended purpose. Test the recovery data process to make sure data can be restored properly in a timely manner.

Just as with your personal health, prevention today will save you and your company a lot of time and money should there be a security breach. Consult a professional if necessary.

WDS products are built with security and data loss prevention at the heart of the system. Whether our systems are deployed onsite or on the cloud, we can provide guidance and direction to protect the integrity of your data. Contact us today to see how we can help your company.

Beware of Bloated Custom Software and Its Inherent Problems

Many software companies have come and gone trying to provide custom software and semi-custom software. A successful software provider that delivers custom software is typically staring with 80% of the solution in a base system, and then has a team of design engineers, system architects, project managers, and developers to tweak that base system into a “client-specific” solution that fits the operation like a glove. This “semi-custom” solution approach requires a complete and absolute “Problem-Solving Mindset and Culture.” A canned solution provider hires marketing teams, sales teams, and packaging teams….and builds their business primarily by working to deliver the same solution in as many instances as possible. “Development” is rare, if ever, and usually is only provided as a market-wide system upgrade. The interval for these updates is usually every one or two years. Customer requests for changes are typically added to a wish list of sorts from all current clients, and the requests that the software provider deems “justified” will then be scheduled and added to the queue for the next released upgrade.

Conversely, a semi-custom solution provider (like WDS), responds immediately to customer requests. Within days a team is assigned to the request to deliver a Level of Effort (LOE) estimate, create the specification, and spin up the solution in QA for testing, sign off, and then move to production. This results in the quick elimination of the pain point or bottleneck for the client, the immediate realization of the additional efficiencies expected from the change, and an immediate realization of the ROI that justified the requested modification.

The benefits of a semi-custom solution provider are significant for the client. The software is designed to “specifically” address their unique needs and requirements, and as the system and its benefits become an integral part of the operation, the ROI is dropping dollars to the company bottom line, and in most cases, those saving are reinvested in additional custom modules or functions, that then exponentially increase the savings delivered by the system.

Bloatware, Months of Configuring and Training:

One other observation about canned solutions is that most canned software companies try to build in as many hooks and switches into their software to try to solve all possible scenarios or client requirements. Unfortunately, this creates bloatware, with screens, logic, and data that individual customers will never use or need. The negative impact is at many levels. First, the sheer complexity of the configuration screens can take months to get right (if ever), training user on the complex interrelationships between modules in use and modules turned off create confusion on user interface screens, and the client pays at least a percentage for modules they will never use, and in the end, most clients will only using 25% of the complete solution for which they paid.

Trusted Advisor/Consultant:

The semi-custom solution is a far better approach, because the overall cost for the system is gauged on only the modules the client needs, and can be implemented quickly. A software company that commits to this problem-solving model is agile and responsive, their entire team is typically always in the solve problems mode and becomes a trusted advisor/consultant team as much as a software provider. Responsible companies will be willing to say no to customer requests if there are forces or prerequisites that might decrease the probability of a successful implementation and use. For example, a responsible problem-solving company will understand the inner workings between departments I an organization, and how the different departments and teams may or may not help with the success of the solution. And that is not to imply a negative approach by some of the internal team (although this does happen), but staff size, company policies (or habits), and departmental turnover rates can make it difficult for the solution to deliver 100% potential. As such, a “responsible” organization will ask the proper questions, will “learn” everything possible about the client’s operation and teams, and will see early on, any challenges that will jeopardize the solution. At WDS we take a brutally honest approach to these conversations, and challenge both sides to explain and acknowledge these issues and whether they can be overcome.

WMS Software Helps Eliminate Hidden Costs

Building efficiency into every aspect of an organization’s system is critical to maximizing both productivity and profits. From supply chain to customer operations and from finance to marketing, each aspect must be coordinated with accuracy. In doing so, companies are able to look at each element in their operations in order to identify weaknesses and capitalize on strengths.  WMS Software is key to ensuring cost savings are maximized.

Data visibility lays the foundation for not only detecting hidden costs, but developing ways to save money in the process. Integrating features like real-time visibility and on-demand cycle counts creates a new avenue for cost-efficiency that will trickle into every department in the organization. A well-design system has the capacity to recognize hidden costs and generate strategic solutions.

Some of the most commonly seen hidden costs stem from the following situations:
1. Shipping the wrong items to a customer
2. Issues with space in the warehouse of a rapidly growing company
3. Dead money in old inventory that is sitting and not selling

The actual hidden costs typically come in the following forms:
1. Losing customer goodwill and the cost of shipping the items back or giving steep discounts to the customer in order to keep them and avoid the shipping back costs
2. The cost of moving to a new warehouse to sustain the rapid growth of the company
3. The dead inventory likely never sells

Clearly, all of the above scenarios and resulting hidden costs are killers for companies, from both a monetary and operational standpoint. The solution, however, is as simple as a well-designed, cutting-edge WMS software platform.

Fighting Hidden Costs with the TSX™ WMS Software

From the simplest to the most complex supply chain systems, a structured management system must be flexible, scalable, and profitable. The above situations are extremely common and must be considered when choosing an inventory solution.

For instance, a rapidly growing company will eventually have to consider moving to a new warehouse. However, an efficient system would cut down inventory safety stock and dead stock. As a result, those areas would be exposed and it would to allow them to delay or completely eliminate the need to move to a larger warehouse, which is a very costly endeavor.

In addition, having exposure to dead money gives companies the ability to move it. Thus, freeing up cash and making the bank much happier. With an efficient system in place, assets are stored for a shorter amount of time, this creates more space through turnover and reduces carrying costs. These changes satisfy both CFOs and banks.

The TSX™ Solution Driven By Data

A well-designed system will incorporate many paths to cycle counting the inventory in order to facilitate maximum real-time visibility to the current on-hand inventory, its movement, and accuracy. For example, the TSX™ WMS solution incorporates on-demand cycle counts during picking. Bins that are low will auto-trigger replenishment tasks that restock the locations quickly and efficiently. Even more powerful are the TSX™ cycles counts, which are driven by “fresh data” allowing focus on the money-maker items, while exposing the slow or dead stock to allow creative thinking on how to move it out and free up valuable warehouse space.

In addition, with the TSX™ AI logic, users are empowered with on-the-fly real-time information to move more efficiently through the counting and validation process. The combination of these TSX™ algorithms and designs reduce the overall cycle counting and recounting times drastically. Most clients experience a 70%+ reduction in user time spent on inventory counting tasks. When inventory visibility is at the max, you are empowered to “proactively” manage your overall inventory position, and eliminate the day-to-day reactionary situations that we have highlighted above.

Data Management with WDS

Since the architecture in TSX™ revolves around your data, not the system, your company is better qualified to make strategic, cost-effective decisions. At WDS, we are driven by the revolutionary complexity of data management.

Are you ready to increase efficiencies while lowering costs? Contact us today to learn more!