Published on: December 18, 2013
As new technologies and theories have been developed, the warehouse management system (WMS) market has changed dramatically over the years. Manufacturers and distributors now have more choices than ever when it comes to choosing a warehouse management solution. Should they move their solution to the Cloud? Should they automate their processes with barcoding technology? Should they incorporate mobile into the warehouse? Should they transition completely to a warehouse management system or stay with their current ERP solution?
You get the picture – choosing a warehouse management system is harder than it has ever been. With so many options, how are companies supposed to know which solution is right for them? We can’t help you choose the perfect solution in this blog, but we can help you understand the differences between the available solutions so you know which warehouse management system makes more sense for your organization.
Choosing the Right WMS for Your Business
Before we begin to discuss practical ways to get the most out of your warehouse management system investment, we need to clear up some confusion regarding the functionality of warehouse management systems. As you are considering your options for a WMS application, make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s standard in WMS and what’s additional. Standard warehouse management system functionality includes: warehouse configuration, bin setup, item setup, putaways, reports, integrated WMS slotting, picking/packing, replenishment/forecasting, stock strategy, shipping, cycle counts, KPI, audit history, multi-site management, configuration, and printing interface. Additional functionality includes: RFID, robotics, external interface management, transportation management, inventory costing, inventory modeling, and supplier relationship management.
In order to choose the right solution, you need to examine the functionality your business will require and narrow down the software vendors that meet 70% of your business requirements. Once you have a list of vendors, compare costs and choose the solution you think makes the most sense for your business.
Implement your WMS in phases
The key to getting the most out of your warehouse management system is to implement it in phases rather than all at once. Once you have determined the functionality you need and chosen your WMS solution, it’s time to create an implementation plan. Write down your most pressing business needs and install those modules first in the warehouse management system application. Keep in mind that the amount of functionality you deploy should be directly related to the amount of time the initial phase will take. Once these modules have been implemented and stabilized and your employees feel comfortable with the system, you can begin the second phase of the implementation.
Create a timeline for implementation
Make sure that you have a specified timetable in place before you begin the implementation of your warehouse management system. When it comes to WMS implementations, it’s always best to overestimate the time it will take to deploy the system, especially if you have chosen additional requirements.
Test your system…again and again
Testing is critical to the success of your WMS project. Test interfaces and data exchanges should be should be checked often to ensure transactional and data integrity. You will also need to test the entire workflow process, including the data, systems, automation, agility, and exceptions.
No matter what kind of warehouse management system you choose, proper planning, extensive testing and a phased approach to implementation will allow your company to reap the benefits of the warehouse management system for years to come. If you would like some assistance in the selection process, give us a call today. We offer a variety of solutions, including Sage WMS and Accellos WMS, designed to help companies just like you. Our warehouse management experts can guide you through the selection process so you can begin improving your warehouse management efforts.