When it comes to choosing the right warehouse management software, there are a number of factors to consider. Take your time and do research before making any decisions on which software is right for you. Your business will benefit in the long run.
While it’s easy to assume that “warehouse management software” refers to one single type of software, in reality it encompasses a wide range of products that serve many different purposes. You can purchase systems that help you manage your inventory, or help you keep track of your assets, or even just help you make sure your computer network is running smoothly.
One of the most important things you can do when looking for a warehouse management system is to determine what kind of software will best serve your needs. There are many different types of software out there, so take the time to look at what each one has to offer before making any final decisions on which one will work best for you.
In this article, we will highlight the major things you need to be looking for, and how to choose the WMS that suits your needs best.
Know your business goals and processes
- Begin by understanding the business processes your warehouse management system will be asked to support. This means looking critically at how things are running right now, and how you want them to run in the future.
- Know your business goals. What do you need your WMS to do? Increase productivity? Improve efficiency? Clear bottlenecks in order fulfilment? Your WMS will only be a success if it helps you achieve these goals within your warehouse.
- Understand what problems you’re trying to address: Do you have inventory visibility issues? How about order processing or picking issues? Is tracking and shipping adherence an issue for you right now?
Consider your existing systems and workflow
- Map out your processes. Take a close look at how things are done and what needs to be improved. Are you using barcoding or RFID? What about pick-to-light displays? Does your current workflow make sense?
- Consider your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Which ones could be improved with the right warehouse management software?
- Consider the technologies you’re currently using, both in the warehouse and elsewhere in your business (like enterprise resource planning software).
- Consider your existing staff. How long have they been there, what’s their expertise level and what would it take to get them up to speed on new WMS capabilities? What kind of training would you need to provide?
- Consider other factors that may impact how well certain WMS solutions will work for you. These include:
- Your current warehouse layout
- Your warehouse’s location (is it in a remote area?)
- The size of your warehouse (big or small)
- Your warehouse’s hours of operation
Think about the future of your business
You’re thinking of buying warehouse management software (WMS) for your business—but it may not be as easy as picking the first item on the shelf that looks appealing. The WMS you choose today is a long-term investment that will likely be with you for many years to come, so it’s important to pick wisely.
To see what I mean, think about the last time you had a carburettor replaced in your car. You could’ve just had a mechanic swap out parts but do nothing else. However, if you wanted to ensure the car would continue driving smoothly over time, you probably decided to take care of some other engine components during the visit.
A situation like this may seem unrelated, but I believe there are important parallels when it comes to choosing a WMS: It’s definitely worthwhile to consider what else needs maintenance while your software is being changed out.
This thought process may also be helpful if you’re planning major business expansion in the future or have complex needs right off the bat. Take into account factors like how well a WMS might scale with your business and how easy or difficult it would be to migrate data into one system from another if necessary.
Focus on customer service
It’s an unavoidable truth: No matter how carefully you plan, it’s not possible to be perfect.
It’s also true that the only way to ensure a customer is happy with your products or services is to actually provide them. After all, customers can be fickle; they’re unpredictable, and sometimes they just don’t get what you’re trying to do.
For example, if you want to get people excited about your business and share why you believe in the company, but don’t want to tell them exactly what kind of products or services they’ll receive when they come back for their next purchase (because the potential customers might change their mind), then maybe it would be a good idea to choose a warehouse management system that allows customers to buy in stages.
In other words, a staging system allows customer intent data like customer demographics and feature preferences to drive sales instead of simply triggering purchases based on inventory availability at the time of sale.
The most important thing when looking at these systems is workflows between departments. The more workflows are available in place today, the better off your business will be tomorrow.
Ensure your supplier is the right culture fit
Make sure you and your supplier are a good fit for each other
This is an important one. Every business is different, with its own culture, processes and strategies; so it’s essential to choose a supplier that can adapt their systems to suit the individual needs of your business.
Your supplier should be able to work flexibly with you to design and create a solution that works exactly as you need it to. Speak to them about how they will approach this process and in what ways they can tailor their system to meet the unique requirements of your business.
Don’t forget to plan for dashboard and reporting integration and data management
This means that, in order to capture the full potential of your warehouse management software, it needs to be able to seamlessly integrate data with other tools you use.
Some WMS will have built-in dashboards and reporting tools for data visualization. In some cases, however, you may need to use a separate business intelligence (BI) or analytics tool.
Look for a WMS that can seamlessly integrate with your BI or analytics tool of choice so that you don’t have to double-key data from your WMS into another system.
We know there are a lot of options to choose from and that it can be difficult to decipher what warehouse management software can do for your company.
With all these different systems on the market, you need extra time and energy to find the perfect match for your business—but it’s worth it.
Having the right system in place gives you access to valuable insights that will help you better serve your customers.
The key takeaway here is that no two businesses are identical, and every organization has different needs and objectives.
The warehouse management system is meant to serve those goals, so take your time choosing each feature so you can find one that works best for your business.
For guidance and advice on choosing a warehouse management system for your business, give one of our industry experts a call today!