Researching a new WMS: what to bear in mind

Whew!

Gathering and detailing those requirements was a lot of work – even more than expected.  You might think that the hard part is behind is behind you and that an easy five minutes on your favorite search engine is the next step. But wait a minute...there are 13 million results when you search ‘warehouse management systems’. This could take some time

Use the internet

That said, the internet does help. You could begin by finding a long list of WMS providers and eliminating the least relevant ones. Some will brag about being number one in pharmaceutical distribution, but if you are in the toy business that one can be skipped. Another will say they are the best and simplest WMS on the market and they sell for only $4,000. If your business moves over $100 million annually that might not be a powerful enough candidate.

Read some paper resources too

Look at your trade magazines. They will have many advertisements and articles on WMS. If a vendor advertises in your business magazine, they feel they have a product that meets the needs of your industry. That pharma WMS probably doesn’t advertise in Toys Monthly, for example. Read the articles carefully even if you don’t think a particular WMS will meet your needs. The writers have good experience analyzing and comparing these systems, and you can use their techniques in your search and analysis.

Talk with your peers

You know people in similar businesses. Call them up and ask what WMS they use and how satisfied they are with it. What features do they wish it had? Have they gotten the support they expected? If they recently considered a change in systems, what other WMS did they consider and why were some eliminated?  

You have another good resource in your trade associations. Ask if there are particular WMS they think you should consider or pass by based on their knowledge of your business. Also check to see if they have a guide to selecting a WMS – they probably have, and might have other resources you can use.

Check with HR for new starters

That new person that started last month probably came from another business with a warehouse. Did they use a WMS? Which one? What features did they find beneficial and what did they know was not liked about that WMS? Even if they had no direct contact with the WMS, they had lunch with people who did. That person has nothing to gain and no axe to grind so their comments might carry a lot of weight.

Don’t get hung up on price yet

You will learn that some WMS are excruciatingly expensive. If they otherwise seem to meet your requirements, keep them on the list. They might have lower cost systems, or provide value well in excess of the cost. Their other customers must have selected them for a good reason.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle.

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Tom Miller

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