Interfacing a new warehouse management system (WMS) with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can be complex.
It requires careful planning, coordination, and testing to ensure that the two systems exchange the data needed at the appropriate times to ensure that business operations remain intact and to allow the two systems to work as planned.
Successful integration requires the continual involvement of key stakeholders from both the IT and operational sides of the business. In addition, a fully integrated team involving both client and vendor helps to identify potential roadblocks or issues which may hinder the project.
Another critical factor is the customisation required to effectively make the two systems work together. Depending on the complexity of the integration, it may be necessary to develop custom interfaces or middleware to bridge the gap between the two systems.
With careful planning and execution, achieving a successful integration can bring significant benefits to the business, including increased warehouse operations and efficiency.
What’s the difference between Integrated and Interfaced WMS
Sometimes warehouse operators confuse integrated and interfaced WMS. It might be an idea to get the terminology correct.
An integrated WMS is a warehouse management system fully embedded within the more extensive ERP system. In these cases, the WMS is built into the same software platform as the rest of the ERP system and shares the same database and data structures. In this setup, a single, unified system manages all aspects of the business, including inventory management, order processing, and financials.
An integrated WMS typically offers real-time visibility and control over warehouse operations from within the ERP but cannot operate with any other ERP since it is embedded.
An interfaced WMS is a warehouse management system software that is connected to the ERP system but is not part of the ERP system itself.
In this setup, the WMS and ERP transfer data in real-time between each other to coordinate activities
However, the WMS operates independently of the ERP system, with its own database and data structures. This option allows the business to choose the best WMS for their particular needs and allows the business to swap out the ERP in the future.
Which one should you choose?
It depends on various factors, including the existing technology infrastructure, the complexity of warehouse operations, and the level of automation.
An integrated WMS may be more suitable for companies with less complex warehouse operations that don’t want to interfere with a best-of-breed WMS.
However, an interfaced WMS may be a more cost-effective solution for companies with complex warehouse operations or where there is no suitable integrated WMS for their ERP system.
Questions to ask when considering your WMS-ERP Integration
- Can data be easily integrated?
- Does it align with current business processes?
- Is there system compatibility?
- Will productivity be enhanced?
- What’s the return on investment? Will the revenue outlook be favourable in the short and long term?
- Will the system improve inventory control, scheduling, management, and visibility?
- Do you have a change management strategy to get all the key players educated and onboard?
- Can it be customised to your needs?
- Can you scale it to an end-to-end solution over time?
Finding a warehouse management system provider who is well-versed in interfacing a WMS with an ERP is essential. Apex Real Time Solutions has 17 years (circa. 2006) of experience in warehouse management solutions and the implementation and consulting services of warehouse management systems.