We know that paper processes used to be the industry standard. But if you continue using outdated methods, you will fall behind your competition. Your smart manufacturing should include investing in a quality warehouse management system (WMS).
A WMS consists of software, hardware and processes that allow warehouses to manage operations from the time materials arrive until they are shipped out. Centralizing the information makes tracking inventory, pulling goods and shipping products more efficient.
But with so many WMS options on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your business. Here are seven important questions to ask when speaking to WMS vendors:
- What’s the user experience like?
Change is hard, and employees are often wary of switching out old protocols (even if they’re no longer effective). 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. If not, your team will spend more time learning how to use it than using it, which wastes time and money.
- Does this WMS fit my budget (and what’s my ROI)?
As you’re researching potential WMS options, keep an eye on the pricing structures and how they compare to your budget. A quality WMS will be an investment, but a worthwhile one.
Create a list of features you’re looking for in a WMS. This will help when considering pricing. It’s not financially savvy to pay for features your facility won’t need. For example, if you don’t need contact management capabilities, there’s no reason to pay for that additional feature.
Taking this measure will help you get a greater ROI on your new system.
- Can you help my picking and packing process?
Picking and packing are crucial parts of the production process. Ask your WMS vendor – How is your new WMS going to help? Can this WMS print out packing slips for your pickers, making retrieval and packing easier? Put together picking lists with multiple types of products? Track progress within orders?
If your WMS can’t adapt to your picking process and keep track of when orders are received, picked, packed and shipped, it won’t be of much use to you.
- What’s the inventory process?
If your inventory tracking is off, that will soon turn into a disaster for your production process. Excess inventory wastes warehouse space and eventually will affect your overall cash flow. On the other hand, if you’re running low on products, you’ll inevitably experience delays, leading to angry customers. Make sure your WMS can track your warehouse’s inventory accurately and send real-time updates to your team.
- Do you have expertise in our industry?
Warehouse management systems aren’t one size fits all, and some might work better than others for certain niches. For example, a system that works well for automotive manufacturing might not be as helpful for a foundry. Talk to your WMS vendors about which industries are best suited for their WMS.
- What are your software’s reporting capabilities?
One of the benefits of having a centralized platform for your warehouse is having access to comprehensive reporting capabilities. Warehouse reports and analytics can give you a closer look at your wins, areas for improvement and your facility’s overall productivity.
- Can you grow as my business does?
If your business grows, your WMS should be able to scale with you. Ensure that you’re investing in a system that can handle adding multiple branches and expanding inventory.