Top tips for Choosing a Warehouse Management System

Investing in a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is no small undertaking. As well as the cash investment in purchasing or licensing a suitable software product it is important to understand how a particular product can be flexed to suit your business model. No WMS comes out of its wrapping and works immediately. It needs configuring, routines need to be devised and implemented and staff need to be trained before benefits can be expected. What follows area selection of top tips to consider when considering a WMS.

  1. What type of WMS do you require?  Many WMS companies offer functionality across all aspects of a warehouse operation, even down to integrating with your accounting system. The reality is that you will probably not want all of that functionality on day one, so look for a system where functionality is available on a modular basis.
  2. Plan for the long term. Start to think of a plan for your warehouse and find the system that most supports you achieving that on a bit by bit basis.
  3. Look Close to Home. Find suppliers that you already have a track record with. Warehouse management is a very complicated business so working with an organisation that already has knowledge of your operation will minimise the time it takes for them to having a positive effect of the setup of a new WMS.
  4. Do the Numbers. Before signing any agreements or contracts your should undertake a detailed study of the cost savings you expect to meet. This will be important when it comes to making decisions about funding unexpected suggestions that arise as part of an implementation program.
  5. Get a Clear Understanding of Costs. Implementing a WMS incurs costs in a variety of ways. Software and hardware costs will be easy to predict and manage but you should also make sure you are clear about the consultancy costs. How much after sales support will your supplier provide, what will they be doing for you as part of that support and how much will additional consultancy cost?
  6. Look out for Inventory Control.  Costs associated with loosing or misplacing a customer’s stock can have a big impact on profitability and you should expect the first gains to be in minimizing this type of operational error. It will also give you an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how successful you have been at meeting service level agreements in this area.
  7. Consider how Best to Select a Supplier.  Agreeing a clear process will help you be more considered in your decision making process. You should start by issuing a requirements document which details the business and what you wish a WMS to deliver. You should then select a list of three to five potential suppliers and present them with your requirements. Follow this with face to face meetings and then ask to see a reference site.
  8. Find Potential Suppliers. This is a simple step in the process, industry contacts, Google and trade exhibitions are useful places to start to pull together a short list of suppliers. Using contacts in the industry is a good place to start as this is always based on what happened and not what is for sale.
  9. Keep Your key Staff Involved. They are the ones who will be using your new WMS in anger, so their input right from the start is critical. You also need your IT team involved to ensure that interfaces with other systems in use can also be provided.
  10. Plan for the Long Term. Your investment in WMS technology will be significant. You need to choose a supplier who has a business that is solid enough to support you in the long run.

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