How to Choose a Warehouse Management System

When it comes to choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) for your business, it’s important to understand your warehouse needs and the benefits of having an integrated WMS before starting the selection process.  There are several key factors which should be addressed when considering move to a WMS system or an upgrade of an outdated WMS system.

Why should our company consider implementing or improving our current systems and processes?

Implementation of the latest technology can significantly improve employee productivity, warehouse operations, vendor relations and customer satisfaction.  Additionally as your company invests in new material-handling equipment such as carousels, conveyors and reach trucks, it should consider integrating these “islands of technology” with your WMS and accounting systems to optimize performance and maximize total warehouse efficiency.

Key factors that cause moves to new warehouse systems:

Requirements that customers place on distributors, is the primary reason that organizations look at improving their warehouse process.  These customer requirements and other influencing factors would include: EDI compliance, eCommerce requirements, and moves to new warehouse, acquisition of new warehouse equipment, RFID compliance and ASN compliance.

What is the first step our company should take to start the search for a warehouse solution?

The first step that should be taken in an organization that is looking to gain a competitive advantage would be to form a team to determine what the organizations needs are and what key features must be included in the system.  This team will also be responsible for determining the cost of doing business as the organization is currently operating.  Key indicators will need to be measured such as:  the number of picking errors, fines for mis-picks, predictive error rates, employee efficiency, returns material authorization costs, cost of repack or verification of orders, etc.  By measuring the organizations capabilities through benchmarking, an assessment should determine if the organization needs to implement significant changes to improve.  If so, then your organization should start on a search for improved warehousing systems.

Additional Steps to take before searching for a system:

In order to be prepared the following check list items should be considered before starting a search for a warehousing system

  1. Form a Team (discussed above)
  2. Document, Evaluate and Benchmark the Organizations current systems
  3. Develop a process and a timelines
  4. Share expectations and organizational needs.
  5. Create a list of functional requirements
  6. Consider integration to back office systems (accounting, sales, purchasing and customer relations management systems)

If you need assistance or would like more information on the steps needed to start the search for a WMS system, please feel free to contact us at info@axisgp.com.    To view previously published articles on warehouse management solutions please visit us at AXIS Newsletter Archive.

Hopefully this article has provided some insight on preparing your organization to begin a search to improve their warehouse operations to gain efficiencies.  Articles to come in the future:

  • July 2007 – Essential Warehouse Management System Features
  • Aug 2007 – Warehouse Management System Key Feature Check List
  • Sept 2007 – Picking a Software Vendor and Solution Provider to implement  a Warehousing System
  • Oct 2007 – Planning a Warehouse Management System Implementation
  • Nov 2007 – Implementing a Warehouse Management System
  • Dec 2007 – Utilizing your Warehouse Management System to increase efficiencies.
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