Choosing your next WMS system is a big deal. Your business may be looking to modernize, increase efficiency, improve reliability or maybe all the above – and then some. Yet how does this translate to picking the right solution?
Your business needs should come first and foremost. Understanding them will help you to determine which type of features are important to you and which will have the greatest impact on day-to-day operations. Misunderstand those needs and you might prioritize functions that have little impact or else make the present situation worse.
With that in mind we’ve come up with a guide to help you along in your decision making. We’ll also discuss how WAM can fit those needs.
Understand Your Processes
One of the first things we always ask prospective clients is if they’ve mapped out their processes and describe their current challenges. Mapping your processes not only helps us in determining how WAM will address them but also allows you to understand what is happening and if a solution can be adapted to them, or if a better way of accomplishing them. This will help determine what features are a priority versus secondary nice to haves.
When considering feature prioritization asking the right question can often lead to pointing you in the right direction. Ask yourself: Are inaccuracies negatively affecting fulfilment? What are the most frequent complaints we receive with our current WMS? What are the core tasks of staff and how are they performed? What information do staff and stakeholders need for taking key decisions?
Knowing what features are and how they’ll fit into your new WMS is crucial. With that some features should be considered as standard for a WMS. If these features are not present, then it may be a strong indication that another solution should be considered. So, what are some features that should be standard in your WMS? Let’s take a look.
Picking: Picking functionality helps staff follow and fulfill orders. This feature should support mobile scanning and be able to generate important documents like labels and packing slips as an order is created. The system should be flexible enough to adapt to your existing warehouse space (or help you implement best practice).
Receiving: This is a core basic function of any WMS. This function entails the receipt and increase of any inventory a warehouse stores. It should be able to handle both scheduled and unscheduled deliveries. Furthermore, it should be able to account for return management, condition assurance mechanisms, as well as be able to receive goods in one quantity format but shipped in another.
Inventory Management: Be able to process delivered goods, put away functions, allocate warehouse space for items, process goods and store them in mixed or single load options.
Counting: Accurately track all inventory and at every stage of handling/management. Counting features should also link to picking, shipping, and receiving activities to maintain accurate levels and provide real-time inventory data. Cycle counting: a method that counts a few products each business day throughout the year to verify that inventory levels are accurate is also a key function.
Warehouse Management: This is a core feature. Many will claim they can handle warehouse management but that is not necessarily the case and may lack the necessary controls. Warehouse management allows you to run operations flexibly and respond to needs and orders as they are happening. Allocate resources to unexpected deliveries or if carriers are late or early. This is important especially if you are moving from manual processes.
Cross-docking: This is a very common feature. It allows you to route goods you receive to immediately fulfilling an existing order or outgoing shipments before putting them away and storing them in warehouse locations.
Tracking: WMS’s should be able to track inventory through lot or serial number. This allows you to maintain strict control of what you’re storing and help with re-order thresholds as well supply chain variables like recalls and audits.
Order Allocation: This allows you to make the most of the inventory you have on hand to fulfill current orders. You can input orders from a variety of sources and sales channels to generate order lists to fulfill, assign to staff, and prioritize based on various qualifiers, like back orders first or expedited orders.
These are just a few of the features you can take into consideration to find and narrow down your future WMS. Ultimately prioritize the features you have identified that will help your business and will support you processes.
So why would WAM be a good choice for your new WMS. First and foremost is WAM’s ability to be flexible to your needs. Flexibility allows you to have a WMS that will fit your specific business case. Often solutions try to fit their customers into a specific box or silo. Based on your requirements and industry they say you fit “here”. Wouldn’t it be better if instead the solution was customized to fit you exactly? WAM is designed with this mind. By mapping your processes, we can configure our solution so that it meets your exact needs, rather than trying to fit your business into a box.
WAM was also built with warehouse management in mind. This means providing tools and features that don’t require a work around or an unnecessary task to fit a particular process. Many solutions are focused on solely inventory, basically “the what”. WAM though not only considers inventory but also all the other tasks and variables that a warehouse would face on a day-to-day basis, like picking and packing, cross-docking, multi-warehouse management, billing and financials, allocation, routing, scheduling and more. Also, we recognize that warehouses need to work on the go and in real-time, so we’ve created our own mobile scanning app that directly interacts with Salesforce, and like our core solution, it is completely customizable to your processes. This means no lost time on extra tasks to fulfill on orders or work.
Lastly how do you continue to make good business decisions? Reports. Reporting is key, as it allows stakeholders to understand how their business is running and to take action. Unlike many WMS’s WAM comes with reporting and dashboard tools out of the box that allow you to report on any data set within WAM and by extension Salesforce. Now you have the data you need, presented in one single environment made possible by user friendly tools.
These are our thoughts on what you should consider when making the decision to change or implement a WMS. Ultimately a WMS should work for you, not against you. If a WMS doesn’t fit your needs, you shouldn’t think that it’s the only solution out there. Do the research, gain the knowledge, and get the tools that are right for you. Akatia has put a lot of thought into our solution by listening to our customers and not fitting them into a box. If you have a WMS project in mind, we’d be happy to listen to you.