Utilizing a warehouse management system is a smart strategy for small and mid-sized businesses and enterprises. Otherwise, you are losing track of valuable data and making minor mistakes that could be costing you both time and money. That is why you have probably already come to the conclusion that you need a WMS. Now, you need to determine which kind of WMS is going to give you more control of your business processes.
What are the different kinds of WMS? Keep on reading to find out.
What Is a WMS?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a type of software designed to assist with the daily operations of a warehouse. WMS systems have an expansive range of abilities and features that benefit your business. Using a WMS, for example, you can control and monitor various operations, including scanning goods as they enter the warehouse, sending packing requests to employees, and even arranging the warehouse to optimize picking and packing. Auditing and shipping order management are also common features in a WMS.
Because of these capabilities, warehouse management systems also reduce the cost of operations and limit the wasting of resources. If you ever wondered how you could enhance your inventory or warehouse management processes any more than they currently are, then you should consider optimizing with a WMS. Being able to track an item from production and throughout the supply chain gives you an advantage.
You can monitor cycle counts, expiration dates, limit errors, and make more informed decisions. Should an item come back with a defect, you can use the information collected by the WMS to track any other products in that batch. You can also make the work environment 100% paperless if desired. Any directives to employees can be sent straight to a mobile device, and with a WMS integrated with an ERP, redundant manual data entry is completely avoided.
The 4 Types of Warehouse Management Systems
The most commonly used warehouse management systems include:
- Standalone systems
- ERP modules
- Cloud-based WMS
- Supply chain modules
Knowing the pros and cons of each type can help you determine which one is right for your business or warehouse. So let’s have a more in-depth look at each type of WMS.
1. The Standalone WMS
If you run a small warehouse operation or want a WMS that can link your supply chain operations to other processes, then the standalone WMS is right for you. The standalone does not need to be integrated into other systems to function properly, nor does it require too much setup. This is an affordable option for those looking specifically for warehouse management features and nothing more.
Standalone warehouse management systems are packed with the essentials, including:
- Picking and packing
- Shipping and receiving
- Barcode scanning
- Cycle counting
- Inventory tracking
- FIFO and LIFO management
Keep in mind that these systems are the least robust and may not be scalable. If you plan on growing your enterprise, then you should consider a more flexible WMS, like Agility WMS from Wisys. While Agility WMS can standalone, it can also bolster the functionality of ERPs like SAP Business One. Furthermore, Agility can be upgraded and expanded, making it a scalable option for SMEs that wish to grow bigger in the future.
2. ERP Module WMS
Do you want to expand and improve upon already existing operations? Then you may want to consider an enterprise resource planning (ERP) module. The ERP module WMS is designed to assist with accounting, HR, CRM, and supply chain organization. For instance, if you are using SAP Business One, there is an included WMS module that acts as a complement to the other management modules in place. This allows you to consolidate all of your information into one place, which is a huge benefit to businesses that heavily influence the supply chain.
There is a downside to a WMS that is an ERP module: limited warehouse management. Yes, you get the basic features, but there are some areas where an ERP module will be lacking. That said, if you want a WMS that is partnered with customer service, accounting, project management, risk management, and sales orders, then this is the route for you.
3. Cloud-Based WMS
For the added convenience of easy implementation and integration, choose a cloud-based WMS. Cloud technology has been highly beneficial to the world of manufacturing and warehousing. There is a lower cost to running a cloud-based WMS, as well as heightened security and managed IT. Cloud-based WMS are common among third-party logistic (3PL) companies, since much of their workforce is already outsourced. Using a cloud-based format ensures that every aspect of your business is linked together.
4. Supply Chain Module WMS
A standard WMS can help fulfillment centers manage their tasks and limit errors during stocking, picking, packing, and shipping. However, those duties are just a small portion of what happens within the supply chain. That is why there is a specific Supply Chain Module for warehouse management systems.
Think of this style of WMS as an enhanced version, where the base functions—warehouse management—are the same but you also get vendor management, material handling, inventory control, customer relationship management, and transportation management.
Which WMS is Right For You?
In the end, the best WMS is going to be the one that boosts productivity and limits errors. Choosing the one that is right for your business is going to require some reflection, as every business has unique needs. For example, if you want to organize your warehouse, standalone options work well. If you want to expand to multiple locations, an ERP module WMS may be the better choice. In the end, no matter which WMS you choose, make sure that it provides real-time analytics, cycle counting, and warehouse automation to make your life easier.
Wisys offers a unique WMS solution known as Agility that can be adapted to suit your business. An out-of-the-box WMS that is customized for your business, Agility WMS checks off many boxes for small and mid-sized organizations. If you are interested in learning more about Agility, why not give Wisys a call at 770-955-3530 or request to see a demo?