Eventually, there will come a time when your small or medium-sized business looks to expand. At this point, you will also need a warehouse management system (WMS) to manage numerous processes and keep your business moving forward. That said, how do you find the right WMS? Being that there are a plethora of WMS platforms out there, you need to know how to choose the one that is best for your business.
1. Go With Cost-Effective, Not Cheap
Going the cheap route can be expensive. When you are shopping around for a decent WMS, you are looking for one that is made by a reliable business with multiple solutions. For example, WiSys has a couple of WMS platforms that work with ERPs. As you may know, a warehouse management system is used to process data and help you coordinate movements within the warehouse or business. Because of that, there are many benefits of a WMS:
- Accurate inventory counts
- Stock visibility
- Enhanced traceability
- Effective labor management
- Remote data visibility
- Fewer returned items
- Minimal paperwork
- Better customer service
- Automated replenishment
Cheap WMS will have these features, but the system will look and feel incredibly clunky. It is best to look at the demos of the WMS in question.
Here is a demo of the WiSys WMS:
2. Does Your WMS Integrate With Other Systems?
Are you running SAP Business One, for instance? Since working within a data silo can be problematic, having a WMS that integrates well with other systems or software is important. For instance, if you are an e-commerce store, utilizing a WMS for accurate inventory counters and an ERP to handle the sales, invoicing, and financing gets your business working seamlessly. You also want to integrate systems for ease of use.
Beyond the warehouse, a WMS can connect with other platforms, such as third-party logistics (3PL), making it easier to improve customer service.
3. Know Your Requirements and ROI
When searching for a WMS, consider the reasons why you want one. List out the requirements for the system and consider the costs that come with such a requirement. By doing so, you can figure out how much you will need to invest in the WMS and its implementation. There are many kinds of WMS out there. Some have unique features, including logistics management, customer service, accounting, inventory tracking, and more.
Of course, you must also consider any budget constraints. Maybe you will only be able to afford a basic system that has features including inventory orders, shipments, tracking, and so on. If you can afford something more costly, you have access to more features, like work direction and optimization, reports, restocking, flow controls, forecasting capabilities, and more.
4. Analyze Existing Systems
Does your business already have an enterprise resource planning system or WMS running? Then you should analyze what you have available first. Sometimes, there are shortfalls in your current system that can be remedied with appropriate updates or interfacing. Outdated systems tend to be clunky, and this could slow down your business. Similarly, if your warehouse is utilizing a lot of automation, such as sorting systems or conveyor belts, you may want to seek out a WMS that better handles that.
While it is normal for some SMEs to have multiple systems running at the same time, you may be able to optimize more efficiently if you choose a WMS that integrates with what is already in place.
5. Opt For a Customizable WMS
While there are some businesses that say you should not build a WMS but buy one, there are numerous benefits to selecting the customizable option. Take Agility WMS from Wisys, for example. Built using established WMS technology, Agility has several different versions that can be tailored to suit the needs of your SME. You get the functionalities you want and nothing superfluous. Of course, you can also start with the Agility Essentials and upgrade as your business grows and needs more features.
6. Request Information From Vendors
Once you have looked at some vendors, it is time to send a request for information (RFI) message. The RFI does not have to be long—a few pages will suffice. Tell the vendor about your business and the direction in which it is headed. If you have any plans, give some details. For a warehouse, this may also include information about loading bays, pick-and-pack stations, and other locations that will be at the location. In broad terms, explain what the WMS could help you achieve within the warehouse (or your business).
You should also disclose how many transactions you currently see per day, as well as any instances where demand increases dramatically.
Of course, this is also the time when you gain information on the vendor. Although you know their name, you should also inquire about:
- Company history
- Locations currently using their WMS product
- Owners of the WMS source code
- Developmental plans
- Track record
- Training options
- Client list
- Support charges and daily rates
Ideally, you should choose the vendor whose capabilities and culture match your own. For instance, if you want a scalable WMS solution that can be customized to suit your business, you might go with WiSys for our flexible Agility WMS.
7. Training Requirements
Some warehouse management systems are much less intuitive than others. You want to ensure that your team is going to receive adequate training from the developer before or after implementing the new software. The best course is to train on the finalized system that has been customized to suit your needs. Furthermore, training your employees alongside the team that created the system has tremendous benefits, as they can get thorough technical support right from the start.
Enhance Your Validation, Visibility, and Velocity With Wisys
A WMS is a tool that helps you achieve better efficiency and productivity throughout your whole operation. You will find that there are many WMS out there, but only a few are going to suit your needs. When you are rapidly growing or in search of a flexible, scalable WMS, Agility from Wisys could be the answer. Give us a call at 770-955-3530 to learn more about our WMS solutions for your warehouse.