By Phil Zoio, Technical Director at Realtime Despatch Software Ltd
If your warehouse is in desperate need of a boost, then a new WMS (Warehouse Management System) is likely to be just the tonic. Indeed, the common issue here is not so much deciding on the solution, but deciding who will supply it.
No matter what size your business, picking the right vendor is crucial. For a large e-commerce company that processes hundreds or thousands of orders a day, an effective WMS is essential in ensuring that you can operate efficiently and that key staff have easy access to all the information they need.
Unfortunately, a WMS is not a system that can be simply plugged-in and powered-up, largely because its implementation must be closely aligned with the business processes it needs to support. For instance, many of these processes will be accompanied by physical operations in the warehouse, such as moving stock, packing shipments, and so on. If your business is complex, there may be dozens if not hundreds of function points that the implementation needs to cover. Misconfiguration or error in any one of these can have damaging consequences and impede your business from operating effectively.
For these reasons, we think there are three principal factors to consider that will help guide you in your WMS vendor selection: flexibility, track record and their capability to provide ongoing support to your business.
- Firstly, always assess how much flexibility a WMS provider can bring to the table. Warehouses are complex; can the supplier adapt the software to match the application, and how cost-effectively can this be achieved? Also, can it be done without placing at risk the cohesiveness and integrity of the WMS?
- A proven track record is a must. Ask to go on a site visit where you can see the software in action and speak with users – not just the management team but people actually using the system. Ask about the supplier: how was the implementation process; how long did it take; was there much disruption? If you’re going to invest in a WMS supplier, make them earn their spurs.
- Last but not least, it’s worth making sure that your relationship with a WMS vendor is built to last. Your business needs may change; can they show you how they will keep their product fit for your purpose? Can they evidence how they will support you in the use of their software; is their help-desk process well-documented and can they show you how it works? Size can be a factor here: you don’t want to be their biggest client, where they might be overwhelmed by the size of the account, or their smallest, where you will be considered ‘small fry’. Applying the Goldilocks principle of being ‘just right’ is sure to work best.
If you’re feeling a little better informed on selecting a WMS provider, then why not give us a call and put us to the test.