Take Time When Choosing Your WMS Software Package – Build Your Case

wms-software-packageChoosing the right WMS software package for your facility begs the answers to many questions.  Using these facts will determine what is needed to implement a productive, successful, efficient, wms package which Is vital for your facility’s growth, profitability and change.

How to Build Your Case

Build a factual base upon which to construct a Request for Proposal (RFP) for your WMS software package. Fact-finding helps build your case in two important areas. First, it  defines the type of WMS software package that you may be In search of, and in addition it may facilitate management to buy-in to the plan by providing a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the risks and rewards.

Define your customer base. What types of businesses are your customers and potential customers involved in? What do your customers expect from you? Do they require that you conform to their product receipt and packaging protocols or do they look to you to establish your own protocols based on how they expect to receive products, and in what time frame? Do they have special handling, picking, packaging or inspection requirements? Your own sales and marketing staff can provide this information. Visit your customers’ web sites to get a sense of how they position themselves to their customers.

Determine the strengths of your operation and also areas where improvements may be needed. Is there a desire to improve in certain areas or processes, for example better throughput, more efficient manpower utilization, faster deliveries, or maybe fewer returns? Would changes in these performance areas increase business from existing customers? Would changes in your systems convert more prospects to customers? Is the organization planning to incorporate or add automated storage and retrieval systems? Will the legacy system support these changes?

Visit web sites of various trade publications that cover your markets to learn about market trends. What are the marketplace challenges facing your company? What is your company’s market share? Who is your competition and how are they different from you? Is the market open to more competition?

Once you have qualitative information about your customers and your company, collect and analyze your company’s performance metrics. Metrics are quantitative measurements of warehouse or distribution center performance. This includes processing efficiency in receiving, putaway, replenishment, fulfillment, packing and shipping. Does your company have goals established for performance in these areas? Can performance be improved in any of these areas?

Now that all this information has been reviewed, organized and prepared in report form, take it to your executive management. The project won’t succeed without their buy-in. The more logically and factually you can present your case, the more likely executive management will give the green light to proceed. Show, don’t tell. Management buy-in requires that your proposal answer how WMS software will support various operating areas of the organization and help it meet its business objectives. Decide what you must have then demonstrate how the WMS will improve such performance measurements of efficiency as employee productivity, increased picking throughput, and higher accuracy levels.

Paying for Itself

One critical aspect of securing management buy-in is an analysis of Return on Investment (ROI). How much will the WMS software package cost and how fast will that investment be paid pack to the company through reduced labor costs, improved order picking accuracy, increased system throughput, and overall operational efficiency?

Meet with your chief financial officer to determine if the company has established ROI guidelines. Generally, a payback period of less than two years is considered a reasonable return.

Look for a WMS software supplier who is willing to work with you to determine the payback period. This is where your metrics evaluation will help. Your metrics provide a baseline from which the performance of the new system can be evaluated. In addition, you can have your supplier conduct a time study analysis to help prove in the new system. Use this information for a demo to ascertain if the proposed software package will meet your specific requirements. Before you sign a purchase agreement, make sure you know the final cost of the system.

A WMS software package is a critical element in the successful operation of warehouses in a variety of industries. When it’s time to upgrade your system software, select a package that can grow with your company and respond quickly to changing marketplace requirements. A little up front study and a careful review of software options will help you make the right choice.

SI Systems has been providing world class automated software and material handling systems to order fulfillment, distribution center, warehouse, manufacturing and assembly operations for over 50 years. Systems include WMS (Warehouse Management Systems), WCS (Warehouse Control Systems), and WES (Warehouse Execution Systems) software, order fulfillment dispensing A-Frames, towline in-floor conveyor, slotting and integration services. Visit www.sihs.com for more information and white papers on this subject or email: info@sihs.com

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