The 6 Most Important Questions to Ask When You Search for a WMS

The 6 Most Important Questions to Ask When You Search for a WMS

June 4, 2019 Off By Shipedge

Where do you start your search for a WMS? What makes for a good Warehouse Management System? This is an important question with a somewhat frustrating answer. You see, “good” is a relative term. When it comes to software there is no universal good or bad, it’s about fit vs. not a fit. For example – do you think Red Bull and Ford use the same software? What about Exxon and Target? Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron? Why not? Because they need different things.

With that in mind, I invite you to reconsider the way you look at supply chain software selection. Hone your search by looking at features as pieces, not one big project. What will the software do for your company, your staff, your suppliers, and your customers? Which specific features do you need? What is the vendor like as a company?

How Does the System Relate to Product Data?

Supply Chain Software is all about data. So, on a strictly data level, what does your company need? What does the system need to be able to do?

Some Features to Consider:

Inventory Control

Workflows for Returns, Exchanges, Pick, Pack, Ship, etc.

Warehouse Layout Optimization

Mobile Barcode Scanners/WMS

Cross-Docking

Dropshipping

Multi-Warehouse Routing

Manufacturing

Lot Control

Expiration Date

Unit of Measure

Shipping Desk

Can the Software Help on an Organizational Level?

Next, as you search for a WMS you should ask, “What pains can the system solve on an organizational level?” Whereas the previous section relates to data, this is “big picture” use. What do you need as a company?

Do we get real-time visibility and transparency?

Is there a billing solution for 3PLs and fulfillment providers?

What kind of reporting do we get?

Is there forecasting? For products? For supplies like boxes and tape?

Will it reduce operational expenses?

Will the Warehouse Team Be On Board?

During the search for a WMS, often we forget to talk to the people who will use it most. Labor is one of the greatest variable cost to a warehouse, so how does your staff feel about the system? Pickers and packers use the system more than anyone else, so they’ll need to be in support of the new solution.

Is there a labor-management component?

Does the system optimize the process?

Is there a mobile WMS component?

Are there educational materials to minimize training?

Is it fairly easy to use?

Can I choose what my staff can see & control?

Search for a WMS Connections

How Will Business Relations Be Affected?

Will the system help improve relations with carriers, suppliers, clients, and customers? You search for a WMS to be the cornerstone of your business, so consider how your contacts and customers will feel about it.

How does the system connect with carriers, suppliers, etc.?

What kinds of integrations are available?

Will the system help you stay compliant with government entities?

Does the system promote security and safety?

Is there transaction management? Purchase orders, replenishments, billing, etc.

How’s the Software?

A Warehouse Management System is a big commitment and while features are important, it’s also important to consider the system as a whole. Look at the system and ask some of these questions:

Will it pay for itself? (ROI)

Is it flexible? Customizable?

Will it be able to scale? Or does it need to be replaced eventually?

How reliable is the system?

Is it intuitive and easy to use?

Is the Provider Reliable?

Let’s take another step back. Instead of the software, look at the company selling the software. Think about the sales process. Is it consultative or pushy? Is your sales rep eager to help or eager to sell? How fast are the response times? These are the best predictors of how you feel during implementations. 

What’s my gut feeling?

What kind of support is available?

Are there hidden fees? Or is pricing straightforward?

Are there development fees?

Does the system seem to be constantly improving?

Conclusion

The best way to search for a WMS is to start by looking internally. Decide what you need, what you prefer, and what would just be nice to have. Then consider how your supply chain will connect and converge on the new WMS. Will the new system help your company? Your staff? Your suppliers, DCs, drop shippers, clients, etc.? Do you trust the company and is the software reliable? Ask questions. Ask as many as you can, because this is a huge decision.