We are living in unprecedented times. The supply chain has been impacted in unique ways never experienced before. Many enterprises are struggling with selecting the right Warehouse Management Software (WMS) system for their operations. It takes considerable work and insight to make a WMS selection successful. This is especially true in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world.
The supply chain has always been susceptible to volatility, but Covid19 exploited these vulnerabilities and challenged trade policies, technologies and customer expectations in unique ways. Warehouse Management Software (WMS) systems tend to focus on how to process optimization opportunities, but of course, functional and technical requirements are not static propositions. So, how does one choose a WMS when all the usual considerations and variables have been disrupted? How do we deter risk in uncertain times?
Here are some important considerations to choose a flexible WMS:
1. WMS selections tend to spend a lot of time examining core features, but don’t forget to consider all the unique requirements that may arise for your company in the near future. Spend some time looking at highly-flexible functionality even if their functions do not appear to be currently relevant. This includes multiple methods of receiving, cross-docking, put-way, cycle-counts, yard management, rule-based task optimization, pick-path orchestration, kitting, VAS, high-velocity seasonal slotting, parcel rate shopping, EDI Integrations, Lifo/Fifo, Expiration and Serialization to name a few. There may come a time when “nice-to-have” functionality becomes a must-have requirement. Choose a WMS that works for your future – not just for today.
2. Make flexibility, agility, and scalability key discriminators. The best way to handle new requirements is through configuration and extensibility features. Take the time to dive into a WMS’s configurability. Is it highly-flexible? Can it manage multiple warehouses in real-time? Look at the workflow and scripting tools provided that enable the end-user (customer) to build out limited custom functionality within the platform. Also, spend some time trying to understand how externally developed custom apps can be integrated into solutions and APIs. Talk with their API Team.
3. Give uncertainty a formal role. Clearly state that any new WMS must provide a platform that can effectively deal with changing business and technical requirements throughout the planning horizon. Do this at the project kickoff and make sure it is a key project driver.
4. Time is money. Speed is especially important when continually faced with volatility and uncertainty. How fast an operation can deploy new WMS functionality may make the difference in winning new and retaining existing business. Take some time to evaluate how quickly new functionality can be rolled out for a new WMS.
5. Recognize the role that integration plays in future success. We need to continually and rapidly deploy new integrations in an ever-changing world. Evolving customer and business needs mean embracing automation, robotics, and business system initiatives that must be integrated into the WMS. Pay close attention to how a WMS integration framework will impact your future technology initiatives.
Contact us today to have an in-depth conversation about your unique warehouse challenges and how we can help you with a successful WMS implementation. Let us show you how.