Maintaining a successful modern warehouse today is a challenge for even experienced logistics managers. Usually, it is a warehouse management system (WHS) that controls warehouse operations. But deciding what WHS to invest in, or when to upgrade are additional tasks that need contending. New installs and system upgrades can easily have significant associated costs. For businesses to improve competitive advantage means selecting a warehouse management system with the critical features the organization’s needs.
WHAT IS IT?
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software application designed to manage and support warehouse functionality and operations.
It assists warehouse managers with their day-to-day tasks. Tasks often include planning, organizing, staffing, directing employees. Responsibilities also include the movement and storage of inventory into and out of a warehouse.
Warehouse management typically gets divided into four main categories — receipt, storage, picking, and dispatching inventory. WMS software offers the functionality to manage these four physical segments of warehouse optimization. However, choosing an affordable WMS software solution that is right for the organization takes work.
Every company looking to invest in a WMS needs to begin by researching options. Identifying the vendors matching the organization needs is a significant first step. However, before any vendor discussions, determine critical foundational features. While each organization must work to identify their unique set of requirements, we offer 7 of the top essential features requested.
When selecting a WMS, look for simple navigation and contextual help. These two features vastly improve usability. Confirm the WMS uses best practices for simplifying data entry. Templates are great for basic report designing. Look for a user experience that provides users a dashboard showing critical KPIs in a single location.
A WMS with great user interface:
- Users spend less time experimenting with settings.
- Easily track key daily operations.
- Less of a learning curve.
- New employees quickly become productive.
In this tech-driven world, employees travel overseas, have flexible working hours, and need instant access to data in the warehouses, meetings, conferences. An ideal warehouse management system features a mobile-friendly interface accessible from regular smartphone devices. It allows the management professionals to set authorities, view the list of purchase orders, raw materials, finished goods, and track the inventory on the go.
By updating the data instantly on a mobile-based WMS, it automatically is updated on the ERP system. This versatility facilitates data sharing between departments and offers real-time inventory stats. Field workers can electronically generate reports, record each transaction, and manage the daily tasks at their fingertips.
Go for a mobile-first solution:
- Anywhere: visibility into operations wherever there is an internet connection
- Flexibility: make sure it runs natively on Android and iOS
- Native: more robust set of features on popular smartphones
3. Cloud Option
With cloud computing continually improving security and performance, it’s clear that the future of modern warehouses is cloud-based. Anti-tech tactics no longer are competitive. It’s time to leverage the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power.
There many more benefits that cloud-based systems can bring the business.
- Enjoy a lower total cost of ownership
- Get regular updates, and systems upgrades
- No pain, hassle, and cost of time-consuming server maintenance
4. Multi-Location Support
When operating across regions, or serving as a retail and wholesale business, it’s probable that inventory gets stored in a variety of places. To achieve optimum efficiency, each location should integrate seamlessly into the WMS software system.
The WMS needs to optimize warehouse processes for each location that makes sense for the business. What’s more, best-of-breed solutions will also enable orders to be delivered to the appropriate warehouse automatically.
5. Door-to-door Item Tracking
From the moment an item gets logged into the warehouse until it leaves, the warehouse management system should track that item’s every move. At a minimum, a WMS should support:
- Receiving and put-away
- Order picking
- Order shipping
- Inventory Audits
By having insight into every step of a transaction, an organization can optimize product stocking needs and employee performance to the fullest degree, therefore maximizing customer service.
6. Future Proof
Companies grow and evolve. The technology the company invests in also needs to adapt accordingly. A warehouse management system follows this investment rule. So, when ready to invest in a WMS, get answers to important longevity questions.
- Does the new warehouse management system work with the company’s ERP?
- Will it work with multiple brands and models of hardware devices, like forklift mounted RF terminals, and bar code label printers, logistic beacons and scanners?
- Is the WMS currently used by a specific distributor type and size?
- Is the WMS design on open architecture standards, making the system more future proof
Ensure the WMS selected is capable of working with the business in the long term, not just how the company is configured today.
7. Performance Tracking
The right WMS allows for creating KPI and charts on many facets of warehouse performance. From total orders picked to individual employee performance, the WMS should show the big picture and the nitty-gritty details as needed.
An exceptional WMS will allow for performance baselines triggers and will track warehouse performance against these standards. Begin planning new ways to staff the warehouse for optimal productivity by monitoring employee efficiency in the warehouse. Establish goals, design incentive programs, and create a healthy competitive atmosphere in the warehouse.
Bonus. Free Upgrades and Exceptional Support
The vendor behind the WMS is as crucial as the application itself. Look for vendors who have a distinguished reputation for implementation and support.
When investigating WMS solutions:
- Ask for references
- Talk with prior customers to learn if the WMS met expectations
- What levels of customer support is available?
- Does the vendor provide customization?
- How frequent are software upgrades offered?
- Is there an annual maintenance fee?
- Does the WMS vendor have public product reviews?
- Try to learn how the system performs in real life.
- Lastly, a WMS vendor should be skilled at developing ERP integrations when necessary and not rely on third-party partnerships.
It’s obvious that there are several benefits to implementing an effective warehouse management system. Not only are profits positively impact, but it also ensures efficient delivery routing, labor allocation, space, and time optimization. Select the one that best suits the organization’s unique business requirements. Take the time to research projected ROI and overall implementation costs.
For any queries on WMS, please get in touch with us. Our team partners with you to find the right warehouse management system with the critical features you need.