By Lowry Solutions | May 16, 2014

Because there are so many technology systems available in today’s market, choosing the right warehouse management system (WMS) for your supply chain or distribution business can be tricky and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be – businesses that ask the right questions while narrowing their searches will be more likely to find one that meets their business needs.

Here are four crucial questions to ask when considering a warehouse management system:

1.       Is the software intuitive by employee standards?

Implementing a new software system isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It involves a period of adjustment in which managers must get acquainted, employees must be trained and the system must be populated. To make this process as smooth as possible, it is imperative that your new software be intuitive.

The goal of WMS software is to streamline your operations, not slow them down. Therefore, downtime due to complicated software that raises many questions is unacceptable. Your prospective warehouse management software should be not only easy to use, but easy to maintain as well.  When you are able to reduce the time it takes to train employees, manage the system and fix errors, you will be able to see significant savings on labor.

2.       Is it able to grow with your business?

Your warehouse management system should be both flexible and scalable so that as your productivity improves, so can your profitability. This aspect is just as important as the system’s ability to meet your business’ needs. A system that meets your needs at the moment but isn’t able to grow with your business in the future would not be a wise investment.

When you acquire new clients or your workload increases, it’s vital that your system is able to support these changes. Look for a role-based system that allows you to easily add new users, and also establish their capabilities. That way, when it comes time to build your employee or client base, chaos doesn’t ensue. Also, look for a system that allows you to add new features, functions or modules as needed. A system that is not easily updated could make taking on new responsibilities a nightmare.

3.       Will it generate ROI?

Sure, the initial cost of a WMS is important and should be taken into account. But what’s more important is the total cost of ownership – its ability to generate a return on your investment (ROI). The right WMS for your business will be able to provide you with long-term business benefits such as an improved data visibility, increased reporting capabilities, quicker shipping operations, decreased carrying costs, and a track record of success with your clients.

However, cost should not be your determining factor. It is more important to select a system that will provide you long term value than one that will allow initial savings. These benefits will lead to time and money savings that will offset the upfront cost. And if you’re still worried about it, many warehouse management systems are available in a SaaS model (software as a service), allowing you to pay month by month and avoid large capital costs or long-term commitments.

4.       Does the package include adequate technical support?

Technical support is crucial for any technology investment. Make sure the WMS software packages you are considering will be able to provide the level of support your business requires. For example, will online troubleshooting be sufficient or do you need access to a support line with a live person? Whatever your level of need, your support should reduce the time it takes to implement, deploy and manage your WMS, as well as ensure that you get the most out of your investment.

The right warehouse management system is much easier selected when you ask these questions during your decision process. When chosen carefully, it can decrease your business’ operational costs and increase its productivity.


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