Three ways to prioritize your WMS requirements during selection

The average RFP for a warehouse management system can have dozens to hundreds of product features listed. Vendors will come back with elements for as many of these as possible, giving you a few too many choices.

Your best bet is to narrow down that focus. Unfortunately, that can be a big challenge too. Here are a few thoughts and some favorite techniques to help you prioritize your warehouse operations checklist based on your current needs, future growth, and stakeholder thoughts on high-impact areas.

Think and look outside the WMS

One quick note is that a few parts of this discussion will be specific to warehouse management system requirements, but most won’t. For every piece of software, including WMS, must-haves exist. You’ll need baseline information and should put together checklists for future growth and returns.

If you have a process that has worked well in other areas of your business, consider that process. When other people have made smart decisions, add them to your WMS selection team or stakeholders list. The right thoughts, metrics, and understanding might come from outside your team.

1. The MoSCoW method

The MoSCoW method is a prioritization technique that started in agile software and project development. It pushes you to look at requirements in a very rigid way:

  1. Must-have: mandatory requirements
  2. Should-have: high-priority but not mandatory
  3. Could-have: things you would prefer but don’t need
  4. Won’t-have: things too far away to look for, or afford, now

The methodology itself has established protocols for application, but the big WMS takeaways are found in sorting requirements into each bucket. To plan accordingly, it’s smart to ensure your must-haves and should-haves are covered, generally, because of how long you’ll be keeping your WMS.

Guide the could-haves by your overall budget as well as their implementation difficulty. They might be your best option to compare like-for-like systems.

2. Future plans

The next way to whittle down your warehouse management system checklist is to look at what you plan in the next five years. Try to match your growth.

If you’re not growing into multiple warehouses or distribution centers, you could skip on that type of module. However, if you continually are adding SKUs and kits that combine multiple products, you want a system that’s flexible enough to scale these without duplicating or having to remove old SKUs.

Do you want to reach customers in new countries? Then look for a platform that supports the necessary currency and shipment options. Every new market you’re considering, whether it is product-based or geographic, has new regulations. Compliance starts in the warehouse.

Building your list of growth plans necessitates you get together a group of stakeholders from across your organization. Get input from as many as you can so that you’re protected and end up choosing a solution that meets your goals. Bring these decisions back to your MoSCoW list and update those should-haves, could-haves, and reevaluate the won’t-haves.

WMS implementation can get expensive, so you want to ensure that you’ve got a robust WMS technology that you won’t rip and replace to meet growth goals.

3. Hundred dollar method

If you’ve got a list of current needs and future growth plans, but still haven’t figured out what to prioritize, it’s time to get that stakeholders list together and play a game. The hundred dollar technique involves a little bit of voting with enough room for people to weigh things appropriately.

Get your MoSCoW list together and give every stakeholder their own hundred dollars. Each person distributes these across the should-haves and could-haves. The higher value people place on each requirement can help you set priorities for determining what your team sees as the highest value and impact, guiding your shortlist.

Keeping the must-haves off your list in this voting helps every member to see priorities across business groups and ensures your warehouse stays useful and your WMS relevant to your business as a whole.

Happy picking.

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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

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