Right solution in place can streamline order fulfillment, increase inventory visibility, optimize equipment utilization, and improves employee engagement and performance. Most importantly, it helps to achieve long term business goals by cutting cost, boosting productivity and increasing profitability.
With so many options available, how do you even begin deciding which WMS is the best fit for your organization? Several factors come into play when deciding on the great WMS like:
1)Does your business needs warehouse automation, and if so how much;
2) If a cloud or an on-premise system makes more sense;
3) And most importantly, the need to track inventory across all omni-channels and locations.
There are a lot of WMS providers available in the market from established players (JDA Software Group Inc., Oracle Corp., SAP SE, Manhatten Associates etc.) to mid and entry-level systems (Deposco, Scout, Peoplevox etc.), the whole kit of choices can be overwhelming. Understanding your requirements and performance criteria becomes complex while evaluating the best solution. Hence, you can closely monitor and coordinate your current pain points with a retailer’s offerings to yield maximum benefit.
Once you decide to invest in a WMS, following strategies can help you choose the best solution for your warehouse operations.
UNDERSTAND AND ANALYZE YOUR EXISTING SYSTEMS
While selecting a WMS, the first thing is to figure out your existing operations and your current pain points in the system. What does your process look like? Identifying goals and documenting processes for each is an important point to consider, so you can sync them against operational restraints of a potential WMS.
Once, you have identified your current pain points, the next step is to form a project team including all affected departments and ensure to involve management. With your project team, you must evaluate your current system, share your expectations and agree on your future needs. Once you have agreement, create a list of required functions.
With the list of requirements in place, evaluate the benefits you expect them to achieve. Understanding your own operations is the best way to get an idea of how to improve them with an added intangible advantage of increased employment engagement.
Once you know what you want to achieve, the next step is to find out the right WMS solution. Gathering the best information about the product as well as the retailer will save not only time but also helps in getting the best software for your distribution automation strategy. This has been divided into four main categories.
MUST-HAVE WMS FEATURES
There are many WMS out there, but very few that offer truly advanced functionality that can help take a warehouse from basic to exceptional. Hence, it is very important to understand the standard features, retailer should expect from a new WMS.
CLOUD-BASED OR ON-PREMISE WMS
Each of these systems comes with different benefits. However, the cost of implementation and needs of the business influence which type of system will reap the greatest benefit in a long run.
- Implementation Cost: An on-premise WMS solution is undoubtedly an costly affair because it involves acquiring of licenses, investment in infrastructure and maintenance cost. Whereas, the overall cost in a cloud is much lesser because of a) subscription-based pricing, b) faster and easy configuration, and c) by providing open platform to its customers.
- Scalability: Adoption of a cloud-based WMS solution can encourage scalability on two fronts a) It can be operated from any web-enabled system without any additional and time consuming hardware settings, which means that the systems is faster deployed, and b) additional subscriptions can be added on need basis, allowing the warehouse to quickly scale to meet growing demands and vice-versa.
- Implementation Process: Implementation process of a cloud-based WMS takes only few weeks whereas, on-premise solution may take several years to become fully functional.
- Annual Revenue: The total annual revenue is key factor in deciding the type of WMS to be installed within an organization. Small companies are more likely to opt for cloud-based system due to the low cost involved as compared to on-premise solution which is more preferred by the big organization with big revenues.
CREATION OF PERFORMANCE METRICS MAXIMIZES RETURNS
Success measurement enables optimized supply chain management by giving everyone something to work upon. It is divided into two main components: (i) Strategic and (ii) Tactical.
Strategic considerations include what supported supply chain network models, competitive advantages of using the system, integration partners offering value-added options like OMS & TMS and the ability to scale. Whereas, tactical consideration includes how WMS supports continuous improvement, what are the performance measurement tools, key features of the configurable system, what KPI’s are captured etc.,
Therefore, reasonable metrics establish achievable targets and encourage employees. This will make sure all needs are met, including cycle time, throughput, cost per unit and productivity.
“If you don’t measure it, how will you know that you’re getting better”.
Additionally, a retailer should be aware of the latest trends governing the market. Given below is the list of latest WMS trends, one should consider for making a smarter and informed purchase decision.