A warehouse management system has a significant impact on firm profitability and growth. That's why making the right decision is crucial. Selecting the system that fits your operation is a complex journey.
Selecting the right system will save thousands of dollars and countless staff hours from smaller systems with less functionality to larger systems with more comprehensive systems built for specific industries.
Here are some steps to successfully selecting a warehouse management system
1. Build a list
One of the best ways to build a list is to attend an industry trade show. Every trade union holds conferences, where traders can meet potential WMS vendors and also learn best practices. To review possible WMS partners, consider attending IWLA's Annual Conference or MODEX shows or Technology Summit and Material Handling Institute's ProMat.
Organizations such as Gartner also have a lot of research on warehouse management systems from a more technical aspect while also providing information about the overall market.
2. Reviewing marketing materials:
WMS providers include a wide range of processes and systems, from add-on modules that are part of an ERP system to WMS solutions that control the four walls of your warehouse to stock control systems with basic receiving, put away, and picking functionality.
3. Speak with your sales team
The newly-trimmed list of software providers should reach out to each agent that created the initial cut to introduce your company and learn more about their product. Be prepared to describe the type of investment you are willing to make and what you would like the system to do. Some good questions to ask a vendor would be regarding a timeframe for implementation.
You should start to determine if there is a basic technical fit. Get a brief idea of whether the system is flexible enough to work in your current IT environment. You might also want to discuss the type of mobile technology you are using and if the WMS will support it.
Take a few moments to evaluate each company. Ask to hear a bit of their story. Please find out how long they have been in business, how they got started, when their system was first developed and deployed. Ask whether they developed the system and if they continued to support the product. Identify what markets they serve and actively sell to and who some of their customers are.
4. Provide specific details about your operation
It would help if you now had a good understanding of each system's unique features on your list. At this point, you should be prepared to discuss every aspect of your operational process internally and evaluate products against a comprehensive list of requirements.
5. Ask about training
Choosing your warehouse management system is not a decision to be taken lightly. You want to make sure that your investment will pay dividends, which is why it's important to find out how a vendor will help train your staff. It's easy to fall into a trap of learning the bare bones features you need to get through day-to-day tasks, but ongoing training will help you and your team truly master the system. Ask the WMS vendor what their training programs are like and how your account manager will assist you on an ongoing basis. Your vendor's top priority should be in seeing your operation thrive under their system.
These are just a few pointers to get you started in determining what warehouse management system is right for your operation. Finding a provider may go beyond the software itself, in that you should be aiming to find a provider that puts the customer's needs first.
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