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Risks and Rewards of a WMS

By david.yarbrough | July 31, 2015 | Blog

After a certain period of time, everything gets judged and critiqued. Warehouse managements systems (WMSs) have recently reached this critical age. It is quickly becoming obvious that the WMSs of the past are no longer capable of achieving the level of functionality and service that modern day companies require.

Despite this, many organizations are still skeptical about upgrading their warehouse management system. The reasons for not wanting to upgrade range from an upgrade being too expensive, to thinking that the time required for the upgrade will be too long. In reality, however, refusing to implement a new system can be more costly and detrimental in the long run.

Below is a comparison of the risk and rewards of choosing to improve your WMS.

Risk: Downtime

The statement “time is money” has been repeated many times throughout the years, and it is true. The fear of not doing business, or doing it much more slowly, during a warehouse management system change is a deterrent to many companies. But this downtime can be made up once the system is fully up and running, since it will eliminate time consuming mistakes.

The quickest way to limit downtime during the change is to properly test the system before you go through with it. Fixing bugs and fully knowing how the system operates will allow you to implement it more effectively.

Risk: Initial Drop in Productivity

With a new WMS, a long-term increase in efficiency and productivity can be expected, however it may come with an initial drop in those areas. Warehouse workers are the ones who will benefit most from a new warehouse management system, but only if they are properly trained in how to use it. If they are not taught the most efficient ways to use the new WMS it will not be as effective as it could be.

Implementing a new system while allowing the employees to continue doing what they always have is simply not enough. A new or even upgraded WMS will almost always come with different or even completely new processes and functionality. To protect against an initial drop, design a training plan that allows workers to gain the most from the system over time instead of just introducing them to it.

Reward: Fewer Errors

The goal of any new WMS is to eliminate errors, resulting in a smoother running warehouse. With features such as 24/7 access, real-time visibility, and improved order fulfillment, you will be able to limit costly time-consuming mistakes. Fewer errors and getting orders out quicker will help the bottom line of your business.

No WMs is perfect, and no WMS installation will go off without at least one or two problems. But here is the secret: there are risks and rewards associated with everything. An upgraded warehouse management system will be beneficial for your business in the long run if you predict problems and how to solve them before installation.

Keeping an outdated WMS may seem smart for the moment, but it will prove more costly in the long run. The system will only become more inefficient as business practices and demands evolve. For the old system the risks outnumber the rewards, and there is little hope of improvement.