In its simplist form, a Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) controls and tracks the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, processes the associated transactions, and provides visibility about the status of goods in the warehouse. However, like most things that look straightforward on the outside, there are complexities that need to be considered before making a decision to implement a WMS system.
Look for seamless integration with Your ERP system.
While evaluating WMS solutions, you will need to make sure that they integrate seamlessly with your ERP solution. Think about all the areas where WMS affects accounting (sales, purchasing, transfers, customer returns, vendor returns, manufacturing and kitting, shipping, cycle counts, inventory adjustments, inventory availability, etc.) Adding a WMS solution to an ERP that doesn’t work well together can not only cause problems but also hurt your potential growth as a business.
Define current processes and desired improvements.
Define your current workflow to determine what your current distribution and warehouse processes are and how they could be improved. Finding those inefficiencies and error prone areas in the supply chain can quickly identify the gaps, paper intensive processes, or labor intensive areas that a WMS system may improve. Here is a list of questions to consider:
- Are your bins well-defined?
- Can the WMS determine the best pick-path through your aisles using your warehouse layout?
- Do you have multiple units of measure in the same bin?
- Do you have multiple products in the same bin?
- Do you need to track lots or serial numbers in-bound, out-bound, through the warehouse or some combination of these?
- Are your bins separated into overflow and pick bins?
- Do you have a quality checking process that keeps product from being picked?
- Do you cross-dock products?
- Do you custom label products for your customers?
- Do you have industry standard barcodes that you must track?
- Do all your products have readable barcodes?
- Will you have to develop cross-references to match your vendor barcodes?
- Do you need to produce ASNs for your EDI trading partners?
- Do you allow changes to sales or purchase orders once released to the warehouse for picking or receiving?
- Do you have customers who require shipment in full?
- Will your WMS interface to a shipping system like UPS or FedEx?
- Do you need to produce Bills of Lading for your picks?
- Do you use kitting in your sales orders or inventory process?
- Do you have warehouse picks for your manufacturing functions?
Think outside the warehouse.
In addition to your current workflow, look at opportunities to provide better customer service, ways to grow the business, or how your team can become more productive. Would remote access to your WMS data help your sales force? Could mobile access increase efficiencies for your warehouse team? Questions like these can help refine your WMS search and if implemented, help improve customer and team satisfaction as well as your overall bottom line.
Involve your ERP Reseller.
Start with the experts who know your ERP solution and know your business, and how you run it. They will already have clients who have implemented WMS systems and know which ones work best and will work best for you based on your current challenges. Your ERP reseller will help guide you through the process, and may even be able to manage the implementation just like they did with your ERP solution. Leaving them out of the equation can often lead to problems with your ERP solution that end up costing more to repair in the long run.
Contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss your WMS needs.