As business managers, we are always looking for better ways of responding to our clients. Delivering quality products in a timely and accurate manner is imperative in increasing customer loyalty. Solving issues such as inventory shortages, improper shipments, customer returns and stock overages, keep business owners and warehouse managers up at night. How can some of these problems be resolved? One solution is to implement a warehouse management software solution. But what does that mean?
Warehouse management software generally tracks data within the warehouse, providing information on movement of goods by personnel assigned to handle such tasks. Often integrated with shipping systems, this software provides discipline and structure to an otherwise unstructured, frantic environment.
Any warehouse management software (WMS) has common components necessary for implementation. Let’s take a brief overview of an implementation with an integrated ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution.
First, for an integrated solution to be effective, the ERP solution must be in place and stabilized (no longer being revised or modified to an extent that would disrupt an implementation in the warehouse), with products, customers and vendor master lists established.
The warehouse needs to be configured for the hardware components to set up an infrastructure to run a WMS. This infrastructure will need to be connected to the enterprise’s overall network framework. Hardware considerations include printers and barcode handheld scanners that communicate via RF with wireless access points throughout the warehouse. The wireless access points communicate with the main network structure to connect with an ERP.
With the basic infrastructure in place, consideration must then be given to special needs of the warehouse. Are there remote locations to consider? Do special hardships (large freezer space, perishable goods) exist? What about customer returns? Will current growth rates cause expansion of the existing warehouse space within the next business cycle?
Discussions and meetings are held to document the business processes currently in place so that the initial configuration of the WMS solution can be done to handle the business flow. They often uncover inefficiencies or obsolete processes that need to be revised, discarded or replaced. This is also a time when forgotten processes come to light.
Many of these questions are addressed during the prototype phase of the project, when the initial configuration of the WMS solution takes place and is further refined by developments discovered. Once the system configuration changes have been completed, then the actual training takes place.
After a brief training period, the system is turned on in the production environment and additional support is provided during a “go live” phase.
While this summary is brief in nature, we hope it provides an insight into the process as a whole. Implementing a WMS solution is often set aside because the costs or benefits aren’t as obvious as projects in other areas of the enterprise. Contact us and we’ll walk you through a 15 minute ROI questionnaire to provide some immediate feedback on how WMS can help your enterprise. For more information, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.