Tips to Choose the right WMS
23rd November 2020
The current situation is accelerating the speed of enterprises modernization and change. The digitalization of all processes and the introduction of innovative and powerful WMS (Warehouse Management Software) is crucial. It is no longer a chimera of the future, but a specific need, leading to competitiveness, say Stamh.
But before the implementation, a company must prepare for the selection. Businesses need to understand the important features of the WMS software, select the most appropriate partner and elaborate a clear implementation plan. To implement WMS in a good, successful way, Stamh provides 4 important tips to chose the right software and implementation partner. Check them out:
Tip 1: Internal preparation for selection
One of the most important initial steps is to form a project team. To select the right WMS solution, you need to create a Cross Functional Team. It should include professionals with digital thinking from the finance, sales, production, IT and warehouse departments. A common mistake is to proceed with WMS automation of poorly organized processes. Therefore, one of the tasks of the project team is to analyse all the processes in the warehouse.
Based on this analysis, the team needs to prioritize the key functions of the software. The project team must be aware of which functionalities are mandatory, which are highly desirable and which are just ‘good to have’. Since the choice of the warehouse software is a step that directly affects the development of the business, it is advisable to make a forecast for the development of the company. What if the selected software can’t meet the future growth? Some operations require less human resources but more hardware and software solutions – automation and robotics, directly affect all other processes in the company.
And the last, but not least step is the preparation of a feasibility study. If it’s incomplete, convincing management to proceed with the project can be a failure. For this purpose, it’s crucial to make a qualitative and quantitative comparative analysis, without missing significant direct or indirect consequences. For example – what is the importance of the human element in the current pandemic situation?
Tip 2: Choose only the WMS software features that are important to your business
Once the management is convinced for the project implementation, the team must select the main WMS characteristics. First of all, WMS software needs to be accessible. Exporting data should be easy and convenient for its users. It is recommended to have a really user-friendly HMI with real time information. In addition, the program must be compatible with generally accepted standards – regulatory or related to the nature of the business.
Depending on the activity of the company, various specific functionalities of the software can be added. They can be related to the requirements for certain types of goods – for example, functionalities related to the work with excise goods, dangerous goods, serial numbers, etc. Modern WMS software must allow simultaneous pallets placement and picking. This way there will be no lifting equipment idling.
It is recommended to opt for a modular WMS solution and have the possibility for additional expansion. The time and cost can be significantly lower during implementation. This way, the software runs faster when operating with standard processes. Over time, new features can be integrated into the software. It is almost mandatory to integrate the software with other systems – ERP, CRM, TMS, BI and others. The integration possibility with automated and robotics systems, picking technologies (voice systems, RFID, pick to light, put to light, etc.) is aslo essential.
Tip 3: Don’t underestimate important aspects when choosing a partner to implement the solution
Once we have specified the software functionalities, we can proceed to the selection of a partner for the implementation. First of all, the required integrator company must have significant professional experience. Having experienced professionals in the construction and management of warehousing processes is a major advantage. Before setting up a WMS, you should asnwere questions like ‘how it should be’ and not ‘how it is now’.
It is very important whether the product has a strong market presence. Software products appear all the time, but it often happens that they also disapear. The lifespan of the product on the market is an important indicator of the level and product relevance to customer needs. The integrator shouldn’t be just a trader, but your partner. Trust between partners is a very relevant factor in every business. Therefore, in the initial conversations, try to look beyond the presentations and demonstrations. Do you feel that you are treated as a partner and not just like a good number in the annual results?
It is recommend to chose a company with real research and development team. It is important to know what investments are made in this activity to keep the software up to date. It is necessary to inform the team about additional costs for activating new functionalities in the future. Of course, special attention should be paid to the available resources for the project implementation. However, each company sets certain limits on the amount it can spend on software.
Like any product that will be used in the long run, the software needs technical support. Therefore, you should pay attention to the technical support provided by the integrator. It is necessary to ensure a minimum of debugging in the standard version. Your new partner should to be able to provide hardware solutions through reliable subcontractors.
Tip 4: Build a detailed implementation plan
The first step when developing an implementation plan is to choose the right time. It is desirable that this is a period of the year with lower business activity. You should set realistic deadlines and should outline clear tasks. Key players are selected. These are proactive people with digital thinking who will be constantly available to the integrator company and will help them.
It is a good idea to develop an employee training program from the beginning. It is not recommended to make modifications before the base model is completed. It is better to postpone the extras and concentrate on basic processes in the beginning. Of course, you should constantly monitor the implementation process.