Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software that allows organisations to control and administer warehouse operations, from materials entering the warehouse until the materials are moved out. WMS is important in businesses as it provides visibility into organisations’ inventory at any time and location. Besides, WMS also takes care of picking processes and auditing to create sophisticated warehouse operation.
According to Margaret Rouse in SearchERP, WMS might be complex and expensive but the benefits can justify its complexity and costs. By implementing WMS, your organisation can reduce labour costs, improve inventory accuracy, improve flexibility and responsiveness, decrease errors in picking and shipping goods, as well as improve customer service.
That said, adopting WMS will give a profound impact on your profitability and growth. Nevertheless, with 100 more WMS available in the market, selecting the system that fits your operating environment can be a complex journey.
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Don’t invest in the wrong system! Follow this guideline from Aptean to select the right profitable WMS for your operation.
Step #1 Mind your needs
To get the right WMS that suits your needs, you should understand what operation you want to run with WMS.
After that, you should build a list of a system to evaluate in the market. One of the best ways to build an initial list is by attending an industry trade show. As you start the research, ask yourself these questions.
- – Is this system a fit with my current operation? (back you’re your “needs list”)
- – Is this system a fit with my current technology?
- – Does this system support my special processes, like Vendor Managed Inventory?
- – Does this system provide the ability for my company to grow functionally and technologically?
This pile of questions will help you narrow down your list and search.
Step #2 Speak to the salesperson
After you got a few choices of WMS left on your list, you can ask the salesperson for the price and functionality. You might as well as for a demo or see their live product tour to see how the WMS works. In step 2, you need to eliminate vendors that are not a functional or financial fit. In this step, you can ask the following leading questions.
- – Is the system easy to learn and use?
- – Does the system flow logically from function to function?
- – Does the system provide easy access to and sharing of information?
- – Is the system flexible to configure it to your needs?
Remember, a good and suitable WMS should be simple to navigate but it also must be robust enough to manage your operational processes.
Step #3 Be more specific in your “needs” list and operations
Next, you should put as much down on paper about your operational requirements as possible. After comparing your true needs and wants with the available systems, you should have a good idea as to best-fit WMS options from a 30,000-foot level. You should be prepared to answer all these questions in your selection process.
- – Do you use barcoding now? Do you want the option to use RFID or not?
- – What type of Mobile hardware are you using or want to use?
- – What kind of material handling equipment do you use? Conveyors or AS/RS?
- – What type of picking system do you use or want to use? Robotics or pick-to-light?
- – Do you need to interface with any existing system like ERP/MRP?
- – Do you want to deploy the system in-house or in a hosted cloud?
Step #4 Be more specific with the tag price list and its integration
In this step, you have to allocate your budget first but be more flexible for more options. For instance, there might be additional costs such as professional service fees, training, upgrades, as well as maintenance and support.
Likewise, after understanding the cost, you should go detailed in its integration. You should identify all of the integration necessary for a successful implementation. Thus, your vendor should capable in the following areas:
- – Inbound/outbound ASN/EDI
- – Pre-existing APIs
- – Support for integration with host systems like ERPs
- – Support for integration with material handling equipment
- – Support for integration with client or partner systems
Step #5 Host a warehouse tour
This could be a very important step to see how optimised and beneficial the system to your warehouse operation is. Hence, do provide each vendor of your selection with an up-close view of your facility and discuss what makes your organisation special or unique. Each vendor should have a plan to support your process and procedure nuances and be able to confirm that their system can maintain your current operations.
In addition, you should go to a thorough walk-through of each functional area by listening to vendor’s presentation. You should pay attention to areas such as follows:
- – How work, such as Orders, is filtered and how tasks get passed to the warehouse floor.
- – How work is presented to users in the warehouse like how it looks on a smart mobile device.
- – How work being done in the warehouse can be managed remotely.
- – How work in process can be monitored in real-time as transactions are happening
Step #6 Review the contract
Another essential step is to review the contract to see whether there is a hidden cost or that the vendor really suits your needs and wants. A contract should provide crystal-clear representations of the agreement that has culminated from months of interaction between your company and vendors.
Moreover, during reviewing the contract, you can also get final pricing and final terms for all aspects of the WMS software purchase. In this case, you understand and can accurately compare products. Be prepared for everything you need to make a final decision.
After everything is clear from the contract, you can sign and your WMS selection program is over.
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