Three WMS costs that get overlooked during budgeting

Price is (almost) everything when it comes to selecting a warehouse management system, and it’s up to you to truly understand what the total cost will be. Many costs are easy to predict and compare, but new functions, platforms, and their future growth all have associated expenditures that can be easily overlooked.
Here are just three such costs to consider. Start with these small items will get you in the right mindset to catch other costs and opportunities.

1. New consumables

It’s incredibly easy to be blinded by new tools and features so that you miss warning signs or hidden work - I was so excited to move out of my first shoebox of flat that I failed to realize the new apartment didn’t have a dishwasher.

Realization often dawns on the large things before a purchase decision is made, but the small items often slip through without consideration. One of the more common areas that is missed are the costs of replacing new consumables in your line.

Perhaps the easiest increase to understand are new labels that come with a smarter WMS. Labels for inbound pallets and cartons are extremely useful and the upgrade is always pushed if it will be a new practice. You’ll probably catch that this is a new cost and think about their cost. What you might miss, though, is the increased costs in ribbons and equipment for your printer.

This WMS budget guide points out hidden costs and offers real-world data on how much new software should cost

Plus, there are costs associated with shipping these new consumables, or paying someone to go pick them up for you. Thankfully your gains will almost always offset these small costs.

2. Onboarding and training

When you’re choosing a new WMS, there are two very important questions to ask: How long will it take my people to learn it? How much training and support do we get?

If you expect it to take a full month for your team to be comfortable using a new WMS to run your daily operations, but your cost estimates only cover two weeks of continuous support, you’re going to overrun costs.

Different vendors provide different support for onboarding as well as continuing training, so you will likely be able to find the support that’s right for you. However, you will need to take the time to define what that “right fit” is for your team.

We also recommend asking for support and training materials that you can keep and continuously use — this helps keep your costs low when you bring in fresh staff and must train them on your platforms.

3. Upgrading your WMS

Every business knows they’ll need to upgrade their WMS at some point, but few take the time to think of or ask about all the realities of an update or upgrade.

Some costs associated with upgrading a WMS are easy to understand, such as known infrastructure requirements, new sensors, or having to pay your staff some overtime so they can work in the evenings or on weekends when your system has less use.

However, you’ll want to speak with your WMS vendor about the entire process. Make sure to cover costs associated with updating the software your WMS relies on - think of the recent global WannaCry ransomware attacks that targeted older platforms like Windows XP - plus unique elements like how to make sure your custom coding gets carried forward. Also, talk to your vendor about downtime costs.

One of the best ways to learn about this course and costs is to ask your vendor for a customer reference and speak with that customer about their most recent upgrade process.

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Geoff Whiting

About the author…

Geoff is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C.

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Geoff Whiting