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Selecting the right WMS: key strategies for success in 2024

Why do you need a WMS in your warehouse?

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have been proven to deliver efficiencies, reduce fulfilment times, and improve customer service levels, all while saving costs. Across every industry sector, these are the main goals of warehouse and logistics managers.

All WMS offerings have common features, many cover the full range of functions from receiving and put-away, inventory management, analytics, and reporting through to invoicing, despatch and returns management. The benefits of a WMS are tracking ability and visibility across the supply chain.  

Trends in WMS solutions

WMS solutions are designed to work with and alongside your growing range of automation tools and other technologies. These include robotics, wearables, RFID tags and mobile handsets. Internet of Things (IoT) i.e., sensors are used to track inventory and equipment while improving safety. Modern WMS solutions use data analytics and AI technologies to provide input for performance tracking and process optimisation.

Sustainability will be a big issue in 2024, minimising your environmental impact will be important, especially to your customers. Tracking your carbon footprint, reducing your energy consumption and using less packaging will be important. A WMS can help with that.  Warehouse security is becoming a priority. Alarm systems, video surveillance cameras, and smart locks are now commonplace, a WMS can help with managing that too.

The importance of selecting the right WMS

Selecting the optimal WMS to meet your long-term business requirements can be a challenge. Reliable references such as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant™ for Warehouse Management Systems and Capterra offer prospective buyers’ valuable information about leading WMS providers. However, there are hundreds of WMS vendors and new ones are continually entering the market. The choice is wide. One of the main keys to success in selecting a WMS is to clearly articulate your business requirements before evaluating vendors. This means facing and documenting your specific operational challenges, workflows, and unique business processes that must be supported.

The WMS sourcing and selection process

There are 7 key steps to follow in sourcing and selection:

1.

Research potential WMS vendors. Consider their reputation, experience in your industry track record and customer feedback. This step may require issuing a Request for Information (RFI) before launching a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a selected shortlist of vendors. The RFP must detail your exact scope of work and non-negotiable requirements.  Include requirements for pricing for licenses, equipment, annual support, implementation methodology, service level agreement, and references.  Often the failure of a WMS implementation can be traced back to a poor definition of business needs.   

2.

Evaluate the functions of each WMS against your selection criteria. Consider their expertise in integrating with other systems (e.g., ERP), and support for your current and planned automation tools and technologies.

3.

When reviewing pricing, consider ROI and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) whether a subscription model or direct purchase. Look beyond any upfront costs: look for licensing fees, implementation and customization costs, ongoing maintenance and upgrade expenses.  Savings will come from better use of labour, inventory management and better warehouse space utilisation.

4.

Make a short list of 3 – 5 vendors. Ensure that the preferred short-listed WMS vendors can grow with your business, handle increasing volumes, and adapt to future needs and industry trends. Check the vendor’s financial stability and take references.

5.

Confirm that the vendors can provide comprehensive training for your staff and ongoing support during system implementation and usage.

6.

Request demonstrations and a proof-of-concept. Ask to see the system in action at a satisfied client to assess its suitability for your specific business needs

7.

Rank the short-listed vendors against all your criteria. Choose the best suited and proceed to final negotiations.

The keys to success

Following these 7 key steps means that your chances of success in sourcing and implementing the right WMS are high. Poor definition of requirements, misalignment of expectations and lack of expertise are all factors that can lead to a disappointing conclusion and expensive mistake.  Our recommendations for a successful outcome:

  • Understand your organization’s unique needs and objectives. Every business is different.
  • Know the difference between a stand-alone WMS, an ERP-integrated WMS, a cloud-based solution, and industry-specific WMS.
  • Have a dedicated team of qualified and experienced people, including a project manager, to manage the sourcing, vendor evaluation and implementation process.
  • Be realistic about the time needed to invest in the project. There are no shortcuts. Communicate progress internally and externally with potential and shortlisted vendors throughout.

This is a good time to introduce WMS to your business. The selection process can be time-consuming and implementation risky if the project is not well thought through. Use experts like SCCG to select the right solution for you. We have extensive experience in running RFPs and negotiating with WMS vendors. If you’re in the progress of starting a WMS project selection or need help in implementing the right software, contact us at +44(0)1926 430 883 or send your enquiry to info@sccgltd.com.


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