The supply chain is demanding much from businesses throughout the country right now. Should one portion of the supply chain withhold data, for example, everything becomes compromised. The same could happen within your business. When various departments retain data that could otherwise serve the whole, something known as a data silo, productivity and efficiency drop. By integrating a WMS into your business processes, you can enhance the visibility of your stock movements and develop a workflow across every department.
Here is exactly how a WMS can help break down data silos and get your SMB working smarter, not harder.
What is a Data Silo?
A data silo is created when a department or business is isolated from an organization or supply line and does not (or cannot) share information with others beyond. When data is in a silo, it means that it is on a standalone system that is incompatible with everything else. This makes it hard for an organization or supply line to access that data and use it efficiently.
Take, for instance, a business where the warehouse runs on one kind of software and the accounting department runs on another. Both of these departments are collecting all kinds of data, but they only share it with one another on rare occasions. In turn, this causes mistakes that could cost a business thousands.
Why are Data Silos a Problem?
You may already have a picture in your head that data silos are problematic. In short, a data silo is a huge hindrance. When there is a silo, the executives of a business are barred from more accurate forecasting and planning. Instead, they have to gather and compare the information from all sources rather than seeing it all in one place.
Here are some of the ways a data silo can harm a business:
- Incomplete data. Since silos keep data away from those without access to them, it means that any decisions and strategies you develop are based on incomplete data. This derails your efforts and can make a business move much more slowly.
- Less collaboration between departments or locations. When data sets are isolated, there is less opportunity for sharing between departments. In turn, having people work together will be less efficient.
- Inconsistencies in reports. When data silos exist, they are not updated alongside other systems. Thus, the quality of the data disintegrates, leaving you with less accurate reports and an increased potential for errors.
- Duplicated processes and platforms. Since data silos often mean more than the necessary number of databases or services, it can make your IT services far more costly. Data silos also mean duplicated information present on Excel spreadsheets or in online tools.
- Compliance and security issues. When data is stored in more than one place, it increases the data security risks. Also, since it will be difficult to tell which version of the data is most up-to-date or correct, this could make validation and compliance far more complicated.
How Do You Identify a Data Silo?
Unfortunately, if there is a data silo in your business currently, it may be difficult to detect. This is thanks to their isolated nature. However, there are some ways to tell if your business is being thwarted by a hidden data silo (or maybe one that is so obvious you have missed it):
- Various departments are reporting inconsistencies in the data
- Users are discovering data that is out of date or incomplete
- IT costs are astronomical
- You cannot access relevant data
- There is a lack of data pertaining to some business operations
How Does a WMS Break Down Data Silos?
Now that you understand why data silos are so problematic, you may be wondering how to get rid of them and open your business up to more productivity and visibility. One of the best ways to go about knocking down the data silo is to implement a warehouse management system (WMS) that is usable by every department in your business. Sometimes, this means integrating a WMS into your already existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, such as SAP Business One.
Regardless of how you go about it, there are several ways a WMS streamlines business processes and makes data silos a thing of the past:
- Enables advanced inventory tracking. Most WMS include automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) through barcode scanning and RFID tracking. This ensures that the data collected is up-to-date and correct. You can also remove manual reporting from the picture, thereby improving the quality of the data reported to other departments.
- Integrated reporting features. Aside from tracking the movement of inventory, WMS will report to other systems, such as an ERP, giving you a complete dashboard of useful information to use. The reports generated by the WMS can notify you of shifts in demand or assist with predicting stock-outs or backorders. Similarly, WMS can integrate with e-commerce websites to accurately report stock levels on the site, as well as transactions.
- Assists with labor management. Using a WMS, you can monitor the performance of workers by using KPIs, or key performance indicators.
- Better warehouse management practices. Utilizing the data from a WMS like Agility Essentials from Wisys, you can enact practices that serve your labor force better and enhance productivity. This also includes yard and dock management for facilities with cross-docking or complex logistics.
- Makes shipping and handling processes more efficient. WMS has features for warehouse layout, zone picking, pick-and-pack practices, advanced shipment notifications, and much more. These can be integrated into other systems, like an ERP, as well.
Looking For a Flexible and Scalable WMS?
Moving data around is just as important as the accuracy and speed at which you process and send out shipments. When you have a data silo or two, your workflow could stagnate. That is why having a warehouse management system (WMS) is essential to your success. If you are looking for a flexible and scalable WMS, consider Agility from Wisys. Agility WMS is a unique solution that can be customized to suit your business and give you more visibility and velocity throughout the day.
Interested? Give our team a call today at 770-955-3530 to learn more. You can also request to see a demo!