In the past, we’ve covered how warehouses are investing in smart warehousing products and technologies. Our first piece of advice for this transition? Find a digital warehouse management system (WMS) for your facility.
Depending on if it’s the right platform for you, a WMS can either make or break your warehouse’s productivity. That’s why it’s so crucial to choose the right one for your business.
As you’re making that decision, we recommend asking WMS vendors the following questions:
1. What’s the user experience?
This may seem like an odd place to start, but it’s one of the most important questions you can ask.
More than likely, the majority of your employees are going to be using your WMS. That means it needs to be user-friendly enough for everyone, not just your IT experts. If not, your team will spend more time learning how to use it than actually using it. That’s a big time-waster.
Plus, so many warehouse management systems have different users working in tandem with each other. If one user is inputting information incorrectly, that can lead to a domino effect of obstacles for the rest of your employees.
From an employee culture standpoint, let’s face it – nobody likes change. Employees can tend to be a little wary of changing how things have always been done (even if they’ve lost their effectiveness). It’s going to be easier to introduce them to a new system if the platform is user-friendly, intuitive and most of all, easy to implement.
The quicker you can get your new WMS system running and your employees feeling comfortable using it, the better.
2. Does this WMS fit my budget (and what’s my ROI)?
Now that you’ve established that the system will be easy to use, it’s time to talk money.
WMS can be a real investment. Purchasing one shouldn’t be something you jump into without an idea of your budget.
Your potential WMS options will either be priced through a renewable license or a monthly fee. But when considering these prices, know that there could be additional costs to take into consideration:
- Will you need new or additional devices, handhelds, voice-activated technology or mobile units you’ll have to purchase to use the WMS to its full potential?
- How much will the downtime cost to train your employees on the new system?
- Are there additional fees outside of the monthly or license costs, like help desk support or data migration fees?
Also, take a close look at the features offered on potential WMS. Say the software provides customer relationship management (CRM) features, like contact databases and email capabilities. That might be a great feature for some companies, but others may have no use for it. As you’re reviewing pricing structures and available features, make sure you’re not paying for add-ons that you don’t need. This will help you get a greater ROI on your new system.
Speaking of ROI, ask your WMS vendor how their software will benefit you in the long run. Do they guarantee improved traceability? Helpful inventory tools and improved stock accuracy? Boosting success with ordering and shipping?
If there are areas where your warehouse is falling behind, it’s best to look for WMS that focus on improving those experiences.
3. What’s the picking and packing process?
A successful picking and packing process is a crucial component of a productive warehouse. How is your new WMS going to help?
Your WMS should be able to adapt to your warehouse’s picking system, whether you’re using batch, zone, wave or other methods. It should also be able to show you the more efficient way to use your chosen process.
Ask your vendors – is this WMS going to print out packing slips for your pickers, making retrieval and packing easier? And more importantly, do they have a proven track record of success when it comes to putting together those slips? An incorrect picking list certainly won’t help anyone on your floor.
Can your new WMS handle putting together picking lists with multiple types of products? Your employees don’t need to be wasting time with separate picking lists for different kinds of items.
Lastly, can your WMS track progress within orders? This seems to be a standard feature even for less expensive systems, but it’s important to check nonetheless. If your WMS can’t keep track of when orders are received, picked, packed and shipped, it won’t be much use to you.
4. What’s the inventory process?
Proper inventory management can save your business money and a lot of headaches. Excess inventory can clog up your warehouse space and end up affecting your overall cash flow. On the other hand, too little inventory leads to delays, refunds and angry customers.
Your WMS should be able to track your warehouse’s inventory accurately and send real-time updates to your team. Even better, an advanced WMS can tell you how many products would be ready to ship at that moment if someone were to place an order, based on your projected volume.
Inventory tracking can be crucial during seasonal rushes. With more orders and high demands on turnaround time, having an updated look at your current inventory is going to save your team time (and lots of problems).
With features like this, you can stay proactive and make sure you’re not carrying too much (or too little) of a certain product.
5. Are you experts in our industry?
WMS aren’t one size fits all. When considering a new system, talk to vendors about which industries work best with their WMS. For example, a system that works great for automotive manufacturing might not be nearly as helpful for your foundry.
This would be a good time to do a little recon on your competitors’ systems. Research other companies and see if you can find information about their current process. Or take a look at potential WMS websites and check out their recent reviews to see if your industry is mentioned. This will give you a good idea if this potential system would be helpful for your company’s process.
6. What are your software’s reporting capabilities?
While you don’t want to pay for features you’ll never use, we recommend looking into comprehensive WMS systems that offer robust reporting options. Warehouse reports and analytics can give you a closer look at your wins, areas for improvement and your facility’s overall productivity.
Plus, as we mentioned above, they can give you real-time updates on your inventory, orders and other key factors for running a successful warehouse.
7. Can you grow as my business does?
Your company is looking to be more successful, which means growing your operations. Your WMS should be able to adapt to your changing business as well. Ideally, your new WMS should have the capability to work with you as you add multiple branches, change and increase your inventory and build your business. Frankly, if your WMS can’t provide that future scalability, we don’t believe it’s worth your time.
The questions we’ve covered above will help you narrow in on the right WMS for your warehouse, saving your company time and money.
The Dalmec team is always focused on finding ways to save your warehouse time, money and energy. That’s why we offer our high-quality, long-lasting industrial manipulators. Industrial manipulators allow your floor team to pick up, transport and store heavy products with ease. They reduce physical strain on your employees while allowing them to spend more time on other important tasks. Plus, our manipulators can be customized to fit the unique needs of your warehouse.
Get in touch with the Dalmec team today to discuss the possibilities for your warehouse.