The warehouse is at the heart of the supply chain. It plays a vital role in receiving, storing, reserving and distributing goods. Effective warehouse management is critical to your overall business requirements, but with so many providers, how do you choose a management system that fits all your warehousing needs? Here are some considerations:
- Warehouse size. Warehouses vary greatly in physical size as well as the number and types of products they carry. In general, the larger the warehouse, the more functions and activities it performs, thus often requiring warehouse management systems that have greater tracking capabilities.
- Function and capability. What industry do you serve? What functions does your warehouse provide? These questions must be addressed when you are looking for the right WMS. You need to select from WMS’s that match your operational needs and do not require large scale custom development or time-consuming workarounds that decrease your staff's efficiency.
- Flexibility and scalability. Another important consideration is the flexibility of the system. Can it grow with you as your operation grows? Will it meet future anticipated needs? In order to determine how flexible the system is, check its compatibility with your existing ERP systems. You also need to make sure that the WMS has an open architecture that would allow you to interface with your other business systems with minimal additional costs. Lastly, make sure that the system is flexible enough to be used with various types hardware so that you do not find that you are forced into a single vendor solution.
- Ease of use. Find a system that is easy to understand and use, so you do not have to spend a big chunk of time training on employee training. Look for a system that is designed to speed up functions with clear navigation and efficient tools such as menus and help screens to improve usability.
- Vendor reputation. Is the potential provider a trusted name in the warehousing industry? Do they have partners that can provide support not only during installation but also during the implementation phase? An excellent WMS provider should demonstrate an in-depth understanding of your business in order to help you streamline and improve your processes while showing you how you can maximize the use of the system to lower overhead costs. Look for a reputable vendor who has serviced companies with the same needs as yours and has the capability to personalize the system according to your requirements.