Unlike the other machinery you use at your warehouse, knowing when to upgrade your warehouse manufacturing system (WMS) poses a few unique challenges. Software does not fail like your other mechanical equipment. The early warning signs telling you to consider upgrading your WMS software are almost always discoverable in how much more productive your warehouse would be after implementing a newer inventory management solution.
When your existing WMS is starting to hamper warehouse efficiency, and your factory struggles to keep pace with current demand, it’s time to consider replacing it with a more capable solution. Without a reliable WMS, your inventory management suffers and order fulfillment is slow. Your accounting team may find it difficult to analyze key metrics like lost gross margin and yield, simply because you lack access to the necessary process data.
The retail and warehousing industries have changed significantly over the last decade. The impacts of this shifting landscape are observable throughout the supply chain, from warehouse distribution centers to retail shop floors. Businesses once focused on replenishing brick-and-mortar storefronts only are now processing direct-to-consumer freight, as more of them have turned to dropshipping to expedite the delivery of their goods. Most small to medium-sized online retailers need a modernized warehouse management system to remain competitive against their enterprise-level counterparts like Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
An upgraded WMS can help meet rising consumer demands while increasing warehouse performance and customer satisfaction levels at the same time. With that mentioned, the decision to overhaul your existing warehouse management software isn’t one to take lightly. So how do warehouse owners and operations managers know when it’s time to upgrade an older WMS?
Of course, the timing of when to replace your current WMS depends on your unique circumstances. But here are a few classic warning signs that should tell you it’s time to start looking for a newer platform that supports the latest warehouse management tools and processes.
Your warehouse management system is hard to understand
If you’ve been in the industry for any significant time, you already know that customer demand can spike after little forewarning. This means you often need to hire new staff on short notice, and when your WMS is too complicated to figure out, you spend too much time and money on training while allocating fewer resources to meet your strategic growth objectives.
Outmoded warehouse management software can often include an overly confusing user interface (UI) that only increases the time it takes to train new hires and seasonal warehouse employees. These clunky, older inventory management systems also increase your exposure to human error. Mistakes like these lead to misplaced merchandise, and the lack of traceability a WMS otherwise provides only opens the door to other problems like warehouse theft.
A WMS with a confusing user interface reduces the likelihood of its operators maximizing the system’s capabilities. Obviously, when a WMS eliminates unnecessary warehouse complexity, this will impact the return on your investment negatively because your employees aren’t using the programs you purchased. As a result, overall warehouse productivity suffers when your older WMS can’t scale your current growth trajectory.
Your WMS depends on out-of-date technology
If you can’t find manufacturer support for the infrastructure and software your WMS depends on to function, your system is undoubtedly near the end of its useful life. When you have to continue running older equipment and legacy operating systems to keep your WMS working, this almost always translates to productivity losses that would otherwise be reversed with a modernized system.
Older WMS platforms battle performance issues that require costly support like customized coding to ensure the software can interface with the latest systems and applications. When businesses start investing resources into making their outdated technology new, they usually find themselves better served to adopt a newer WMS. Most companies need assurance that they and their supply chain partners can access full manufacturer support if something goes wrong, and an upgraded system provides this valuable peace of mind.
Vendor service issues
Non-responsive vendors go hand in hand with outdated WMS systems. Characteristically slow vendor reaction times mean your supply chain partner is likely phasing out support for your particular platform. What’s more, your vendor knows that you presumably won’t find the help you need elsewhere either, stretching out service response times even further.
At the same time, if the company you’ve been working with isn’t doing a lot of business because its products are too old, sales associates may push for irrelevant updates as a solution. In this case, you could end up with software that doesn’t add value to your business when you’ll eventually have to start over with a new WMS despite those upgrades.
New WMS implementation is a big undertaking
While the prospects of new features and process improvements after upgrades to your existing WMS might seem promising, changes like this to an older system could disrupt your operations significantly and damage your existing WMS if the upgrade process goes south. If updating your existing WMS seems cost-prohibitive because it requires too much system downtime and customized software development, you’re probably right.
At some point, you’ll be prevented from upgrading your old warehouse management system, and it’s nearly impossible to predict when such an event will happen. As a solution, we offer our WiSys clients customizable warehouse management systems based on Agility Adaptable Framework.
We recognize that every warehouse is unique. Our scalable, flexible WMS solutions can reduce your warehouse training costs and downtime by adapting to the user instead of requiring the user to adapt to them. Discover how our Agility Adaptable Framework can help you bring your warehouse workflows into the modern era.
For more information on pricing and answers to your questions about how our methodologies can boost efficiency at your warehouse, reach out to the WiSys product management team now at 770-955-3550.