that operate without the assistance
of WMS are few and far between these days. Being able to track and manage
products at every step has become the standard. Selecting a WMS, however, is
not necessarily a standard process because every manufacturing operation is
different. This list offers the basic criteria to use when selecting a WMS.
Some of the items listed below are
considered “givens” in the WMS assessment process. Nevertheless, it helps to
have a complete list to make the best decisions possible.
A flexible WMS means one that is scalable to a company’s current size as
well as for its future growth. Is it adaptable to different business types
and sizes? Most important, make sure the investment can grow with the
- Highest functionality.
Assess a product’s functionality specifically as it applies to the company
that will use it. Determine if it will address internal issues and
business processes that need to be streamlined.
- Management across the board.
A worthwhile WMS leaves no stone unturned. Every aspect of business
operations needs to be managed—from start to finish. What’s more—the
information supplied by the system should be rich in detail.
- Ease of use.
If the system is too complicated, it will not be well received by
employees. Ease of use with a WMS is found in areas like menus that are
simple to follow and help screens that walk the user through any problem.
Ease of use can also be measured by whether the WMS reduces the amount of
time spent on employee training. With the new system, how long would it
take to get a new employee up to speed?
- Constructive metrics.
Every manufacturer needs to collect data and use the analysis to inform
and guide decisions. As part of that process, be certain the data is
presented in a manner that’s understandable. A methodical WMS might allow
the warehouse to track performance across organizational groups or
divisions. It’s simple: if it cannot supply the performance metrics
required, it’s not the right system.
- Smooth integration with
enterprise resource planning (ERP). Compatibility with a
manufacturer’s ERP system is mandatory. If it’s not compatible, find out
if the vendor is set up to develop additional ERP integrations.
- Good reputation.
Who better to tell you about the viability of a WMS than the people who
actually use it? Ask for customer references, and talk to a couple of
them. Find out if their expectations were met—and don’t be reluctant to
ask for specifics. Also, look into the quality of back-end support
- Focus is on warehouse and
logistics. Look at the industries targeted by a WMS. Does the
software manufacturer offer tools that span many industries? If so, it may
be because the company wanted to diversify its products. A better WMS
product might be the one with its focus entirely on warehouse management.
No Two Manufacturing Operations Are Alike
No two manufacturing operations are exactly alike, which is why a WMS
must be evaluated based on a specific manufacturing operation. The final
decision shouldn’t be made until a manufacturer is sure the WMS under
consideration has the right capabilities, adapts well to the business model,
and suits the company’s culture.