Following a couple of simple guidelines can really make the difference when deciding on which warehouse management software WMS to implement. Today, these types of software are considered by hundreds of managers as their MVP due to how efficiently and accurately they can run their space. As supply chains grow more complex and delivery times accelerate, information, management, and expediency have become increasingly vital to most operations. In this article we’re going to talk about warehouse software — What warehouse software systems are available, what’s warehouse management software WMS, and a few tips on how to pick which one best suits you.
What is Warehouse Software?
Warehouse management software, or warehouse management systems (WMS): are key digital applications designed to optimize, support, and help your company run smoothly. These cutting-edge systems are meant to facilitate daily activities and, to a degree, replace redundant human positions that are weighing down your bottom line.
Features of Warehouse software
WMS normally uses vast algorithms and databases to support your whole operation. They are configured to help you navigate more efficiently your space and enhance your logistics.
Amongst its many critical benefits/features we can find:
- They can automatically operate, assign, control, and manage such areas as Individual stock keeping units (SKUs), individual location numbers, picking sequences, tope of storage, value size, storage restriction, dock doors, human labor assignment.
- Provide milestones for management by monitoring processes through the day and giving out timely reports data. Allowing you to analyze performance and respond to problems instantly.
- Assign staff to work functions and areas automatically without the need of a human overseer.
- Organize your whole supply chain sequence so it’s more effective.
- Plan your day according to dock activity, workload, orders, and shifts.
Types of Warehouse software are available
There are various warehouse software management systems in the market right now. Each has their advantages and its disadvantages. The main 3 are:
Standalone warehouse management software
This is by far the most affordable solution. They lack many tools that have to be carefully integrated into your infrastructure. They are typically on-premise systems deployed inside your mainframe – computer network – and use only some of your tasks. These systems are bought from an outside vendor and rapidly installed into your network.
Some features of a standalone warehouse management software are:
- Bar code scanning.
- Expiration date tracking.
- Cycle count.
Cloud-based warehouse management software (WMS)
Cloud-based are mostly offsite and are SaaS (software as a service) model. They are completely web-based and employ techniques that allow them to provide the same benefits as most traditional warehouse software at a fraction of the cost. They are also noted for their quick integration, rapid deployment, reduced maintenance, and salability.
ERP software or Enterprise Resource Planning systems is software that is mainly used to manage your whole business — not just your warehouse. They integrate most of the features available in warehouse software while also improving other departments – like accounting, human resources, sales, marketing, contracts, finance, etc – that are key to your enterprise. They are the perfect software for companies that simply want an all-in-one solution.
Tips for choosing the best warehouse management software
It’s important to understand that each operation is unique and different. Your needs, when it comes to warehouse software, might differ massively from that of your peers. Here are some easy-to-follow tips that can reduce the guesswork and give you a better ROI.
Business not IT
Successful WMS implementation is normally inspired by your business, by what your business is asking for, and what it needs to grow. Not by your IT department. Your IT department will always want more. Sometimes, your business simply doesn’t need it.
Identifying which vendor to settle-on, when you’re deciding on what warehouse management system to implement takes time, energy, and money. Always keep an eye on your overall budget.
How long until it starts to pay-off
Companies need time to adapt to warehouse management software — they typically need to train their staff, ramp up operations, and carefully calibrate the system so it improves their productivity. This can range, depending on the vendor and the people taking the baton on the operation, from one month to up to a couple of years. When deciding on what company to hire, ask them about this issue and evaluate their answer.
Check your overall supply chain
It’s not just your warehouse, but other sectors that can improve with a WMS – particularly if you’re using an ERP package. It’s important to understand what you’re being sold and what solutions it gives you. Sure, it can improve your picking and stock management, but can it incorporate customer feedback on a sale? Can it adjust your shipping schedules? Can it implement new updates? How flexible is it if you want to scale up in a year or two?
Above all, when implementing a warehouse software system it is critical to evaluate 3 things:
- Where you see yourself in a year or two.
- The vendor’s experience.
- Your staff’s commitment and training.
Implementing software of this kind is a real game-changer but unless you have all those 3 points checked and properly evaluated you won’t truly get the most out of your system. You might have spent a fortune on it, but if the vendor has no experience and isn’t a capable problem solver, if your staff is reticent to change, and if you haven’t evaluated your growth path, then your new software won’t pack as much punch. Consult with professionals and let them guide you, and, more importantly, evaluate your business and give you their unvarnished opinion.