Whether you are a 3PL, distributor, fulfillment, eCommerce or retail focused warehouse a great Warehouse Management System will streamline and speed up the way you do business. Chances are if there is a warehouse they will be using some type of warehouse management software. If you are expanding your business, need to choose a WMS for your new venture or looking to upgrade your current system, it can be difficult to navigate all the different systems and decide what will work best for your organization. Below we will explore a few of the initial steps that a professional warehouse operator should take to get the most out of their new warehouse management system.
Step 1: What are the highlights and limitations of your current process or system?
If you already have a system and you are looking to replace it, or if you are new to WMS think about the reasons you need a new process or system. Do you need more efficient labor management functions? More visibility across your entire supply chain? Maybe you need more accurate reporting and less inventorying.
Make a list of what your current process or system does well. What aspects help you plan better and work faster? Then make a list of what you need to do better and what new features are you looking for. For instance, being cloud based or having a mobile app are some new features that are available and allow for lower up front costs and rapid implementation. Just make sure you have a clear vision in mind of what you would like the WMS to accomplish and be ready to ask a lot of questions to find the best fit for your business needs.
Step 2: Request For Information
Once you’ve decided what you need, you can look for companies that offer those functions. Each company may start to look like any other company because they offer many of the most popular functions. What you’re looking for is the company that provides those services well. Also, the company that can answer your questions in a timely manner and has a good track record. Keep in mind that how quick the company is to respond may also have a correlation to how rapid their customer service will be when you get in a pinch but let’s table the Customer Service topic for now as that is an entire other blog itself.
When you send a Request For Information (RFI), you will include information about your organization, such as a description of your business and your vision of where your organization is planning to go in the future.
Then you can communicate what you want to achieve with your warehouse management system provider. This is where your lists come in. You should be able to tell them all they need to know in order to offer you a product that will benefit your organization for the long term.
Step 3: Evaluate and Decide
Make sure that you have a complete package of information on your preferred features as well as information about the company itself. Information on the provider's track record and customer service are imperative to making the decision.
Were all of your questions answered to your satisfaction? Are the items on your wish list being fulfilled? Are there hidden upcharges for add-ons, additional services or higher priority service levels? Comparing each system’s virtues will help you make a more informed decision but you should also keep in mind what the company provides to you since you are the customer.
What can the WMS do to meet your needs? Are they experienced with providing a positive experience? You should consider talking with others that use their system currently, or have used the system you are considering in the past. They could provide you with information that helps you decide if they are a good fit.
Choosing a new warehouse management system for the first time or even the second or third can be difficult if you don’t have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Plot out your vision first and then seek out the company that has the features to complement your business needs and the track record for getting it done. Following these simple steps can help the process run a little smoother and get the warehouse management system that fits.