A warehouse management system (WMS) is a core component of any successful warehouse because it helps control and manage day-to-day operations. A warehouse management process guides inventory receiving and put-away, as well as optimizes picking, shipping and inventory replenishment.
Because warehouse management systems are always evolving, the software applications of today are far more advanced than what was available just a few years ago. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for a warehouse to upgrade its WMS from time to time. If you are considering a new WMS for your warehouse, here’s everything you need to know to choose the right one for your operation.
How do I Know Which WMS is Right for my Operation?
Before you select a WMS for your warehouse, it’s important to know your warehouse management system functional requirements and how a change fits into your budget. Therefore, the first thing you should do before choosing a WMS is determine how much you can afford to spend and how much payback is required to justify the cost.
When changing warehouse management processes, remember that payback doesn’t happen overnight. The average time it takes to implement a new system is about two months. Depending on the size of the system, however, it could take longer because the process involves training and support for workers to get acclimated to the new system. There is also an intensive testing phase to ensure everything works efficiently.
Follow these seven steps to choose the best WMS for your operation:
- Calculate the return on the investment (ROI).
- Decide on the process.
- Review your existing system to understand its shortfalls.
- Evaluate the in-house development capability of potential WMS vendors.
- Prepare and submit a short, but detailed, request for information (RFI) document to WMS vendors.
- Narrow your choices down to three vendors.
- Consider the various criteria and choose the best WMS for your business.
WMS Functional Requirements
Every warehouse has different functional requirements for a WMS because warehouses are unique in layout, processes and data. Some of the more common functional requirements, however, may include:
- Warehouse capacity and layout
- Storage processes
- Customer order profiles and requirements
- Inbound receiving processes
- Containers, labeling and barcodes
- Product attributes
- Staging and dispatch requirements
Lastly, for seamless and successful warehouse management system implementation, know what software will be integrated and understand which of your functional requirements needs a software upgrade or replacement to support the new WMS correctly.