If you are running a retail or a logistics company, you have to agree that the warehouse is the backbone of your business. The warehouse is a key location of all your business operations, and managing the warehouse efficiently is crucial for your business.
Warehouse management is a daunting task, and over the years many different methods and techniques of warehouse management have been established. In today’s time, warehouse management has been made much easier by warehouse management systems.
What is a warehouse management system?
A warehouse management system or WMS is a software system that allows a business to have a clear view of its entire inventory and manage the supply chain fulfillment operations efficiently. A good warehouse management system gives you a complete picture of what goes on in your warehouse. It gives you updates on inventory every time the new stock is brought in, or existing products are picked up for delivery. It gives real-time information to the viewer and thus allows much better inventory management.
Keeping track of inventory in the warehouse the traditional way used to be a time-consuming and tedious task. There were always chances of human errors and discrepancy in entered data. But with a WMS, the process becomes much faster, more convenient, and error-free by far.
What to know when getting a WMS?
Before you consider buying a warehouse management software, you should know what your business needs from it. There are numerous options available, but the warehouse management system elements you are looking for will depend on your needs.
The first thing to consider in this regard is undoubtedly the cost. If you are investing a WMS for your business, the return on investment you get should be substantial for it to be considered as useful. So, find out what a WMS software would cost you initially. This would include the cost of the license, professional services like training or tech support, and development costs which is generally the costs not included in the package. Once you’ve found this out, you can calculate how much cost-cutting or savings would you earn by employing the WMS and if your net outcome is profitable enough.
You should also see to it that your WMS will work in conjunction with your existing systems and processes. A WMS that can be integrated with your existing systems would be a better choice than having to overhaul your warehouse management processes completely.
Other than these factors, you should also ensure that the software is convenient to use, has a good user interface and provides all the information you will need.
What to ask a potential WMS vendor?
In procuring a warehouse management system, you will most likely put up a tender, and many potential vendors will offer their quotations. But choosing one vendor for your WMS solutions is not as easy as it may sound. Everyone will offer you some lucrative options, but you need to choose one that best fits your requirements.
So, how do you narrow down your choice to just one vendor for your WMS?
Ask your potential WMS vendors these seven questions to be able to decide who would cater to your needs best.
1. How many sites are currently using the WMS software?
This information is crucial because a greater number of users would mean that the vendor has substantial experience in the field. They would know how to deal with a client and offer quick and efficient services during sales and after-sales as well.
2. Is the system easy to learn and use?
This is very important for you as you cannot afford to spend too much time training your employees on how to use the WMS software. This would only add to your cost indirectly and would take up a lot of your valuable time. So, ensure if the vendor can provide quick training and whether your employees be able to learn the system easily.
3. What information does the system provide?
Different WMS software will have different features. Ask your vendor to explain what information the system offers clearly. The information that you get from the system must be relevant and useful to you. See if you can obtain inventory audit history, variance reports, shipment tracking, and other relevant information from the system.
4. How does information sharing work in the system?
Numerous people are working in your warehouse, and each section of people will need to have access to a different set of information that is relevant to their work. Understand from the vendor how information sharing works in the system. That is, who can have access to information and which information can be assigned limited access. This is important because there are certain things that only the management must keep track of.
5. Can the system automatically sync the inventory counts with accounting?
The purpose of using a WMS is to keep track of your inventory and attain real-time information on it. So, it is important that the inventory count is automatically updated in the system. It is all the more useful if it gets synced with accounting as well, making the process much more streamlined.
6. Is the system flexible and configurable enough?
This is to ensure that you can configure the system to some extent according to your requirements. A little flexibility in the system can help you get much better service from it.
7. What is the vendor’s support coverage?
After-sales support is very crucial in these dealings. There may be various issues with the system over time, as you start using it. Find out what kind of after-sales service does the vendor provide and which areas does it cover.