If you’re looking at getting a warehouse management system, you’re probably already aware of what it can do:
- Give you clear visibility of all your inventory
- Improve order fulfillment
- Automate your data collection
Essentially, robust warehouse management solutions optimize your entire operation to run efficiently. Therefore, incorporating a high-quality WMS into your operations makes business sense as it reduces costs, increases customer satisfaction, and improves your profit margin, allowing you to always be one step ahead of your competition.
We have crafted the following 4-Step approach to help you choose an effective Warehouse Management System.
1. Know What Makes WMS Beneficial
As the scale of your operation increases, the complexities within your warehouse also increase, placing additional demands on your team. In these situations, there spike in operator errors are not uncommon, resulting in a reduction in customer satisfaction and potentially unnecessary re-work costs.
Faced with these challenges, it makes sense that the option of WMS software should be high on your agenda.
There are many benefits to having a robust WMS, all of which help you cut costs, increase productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and of course, increase profits:
- Effective employee management
- Stock visibility and traceability
- Accurate inventory counts
- Picking error reduction
- Fewer returns
- Accurate reporting
- Timely responsiveness
- Remote data visibility
- Automatic replenishment
- Improved customer service
- Less paperwork, amongst others.
2. Know Your Requirements and Determine ROI for WMS
The first step when embarking on a WMS journey is to have a proper needs analysis conducted by a reputable warehouse management system solution provider. Doing this helps you to clearly understand what the WMS can do to improve the business and the costs involved in the implementation.
The next step is to generate a business case and calculate the expected ROI in tangible benefits, such as reduced warehouse costs and increased sales, and intangible benefits, such as competitive advantage.
Many companies do this at the project’s outset but never revisit the business case to ensure that the project delivers the anticipated benefits. Therefore, it is essential to build measurements into the operations before and after implementation to ensure that the company can measure the success or not of the project. Doing this will also support future business cases if and when the time comes to scale the operation with automation equipment or other complementary technologies.
3. Short-list and obtain warehouse management solution providers’ quotations using a request for information document
Once you’ve established a clear justification for implementing a WMS within your business, the next step is to look for WMS providers who can fulfill your minimum (and future) requirements. Finding a supplier to meet your minimum requirements in the short term may seem like an elegant solution, but you need to look to the future and need a system that can grow with you as your business moves forward. Thus, your WMS’s flexibility and upgrade path are vital aspects to consider.
Short-list 3 – 5 Warehouse Management Solutions providers by sending a short request for information (RFI) document. It is helpful to the solution provider if the document describes your business, the future direction you wish to take, warehouse details, and plans for the warehouse. Describe in broad terms what you want to achieve with the WMS.
In the RFI, you’ll typically ask for information like:
- Company History
- Number of sites using its WMS
- Client list
- Rates and support charges
- Track record and the like
You can download a comprehensive Warehouse Management System Providers RFI template here.
Once you’ve completed the RFI, send it to suppliers selected for this process. Focus on warehouse management software providers with a track record in your industry.
Besides factors like budget, fit-for-purpose, and experience, you need to find a provider that is a culture fit with your organization and can work well with your team. After all, you will be together for the long haul, and finding a company with which you can work well makes sense.
This chemistry check process takes time and effort because you will have to invite several solution providers to pitch to you. It is an essential part of the process to ensure that you get the right-fit provider and solution for your specific needs.
4. Prepare a Project Team to Manage the Warehouse Management System
In Apex’s experience, the best way to get a right-fit solution and find a provider that suits your culture is to have a dedicated internal team assigned to the project.
This team will be responsible for the entire process of studying available vendor solutions and implementation, right from designing to going live.
It is important to note that any WMS is not primarily an IT issue but a business optimization issue. Therefore, whilst the IT department is integral to the success of any warehouse management solution, the team’s objective should be to focus on the impact that the solution has on its business rather than on the IT department.
If your organization is growing, and you need to increase productivity, customer satisfaction, and profits, then investing in a robust warehouse management system is an intelligent option.
There are many warehouse management system providers in South Africa, and you must do your due diligence to ensure you find the right-fit provider for your particular needs.
Reach out to Apex so that we can help you explore the warehouse management solutions that will work for you.