Are you making a WMS mistake?

Mistakes when considering and planning for a new WMS

In today's fast-paced marketplace and evolving supply chain, automating or digitizing your warehouse operations is critical to long-term business success. To stay competitive and flexible with changing supply chain business models, promoting customer collaboration, mobility, visibility, and data analytics are must-haves. 

Yet, while many businesses understand the value of implementing a WMS, few teams truly have the resources and skill-set to successfully deploy a warehouse management system. If you haven’t gone through this before, there’s a significant risk for costly errors, major delays, cost overruns and headaches for months (if not years).

Seldat Technology Services’ SVP and Global CTO, Chacko Verghese, shares his experiences on identifying if you might be making a big WMS mistake. With over 25 years of supply chain technology experience, Chacko leads STS’s global team of 300+ supply chain IT professionals, all united by a vision to be a global leader in technology-driven supply chain solutions. Plus, he’s participated in hundreds of WMS implementations across multiple platforms, various industry verticals, and geographies – and has personally witnessed why and how choosing and implementing a WMS can go wrong.

Here are a few major no-no’s when considering and planning for a new WMS implementation.

WMS warehouse management system mistakes 1

No-no: “[WMS Provider] has a lot of experience and a long list of customers - it will go well!” 

Why: Every warehouse operation works differently, and every WMS solution has its own set of advantages, features, and limitations – or are tailored towards specific industries. The last thing you want is to find out you’ve invested in a highly-rated warehouse management system that doesn’t actually fit your operational needs. Or worse, you’ve signed with a big vendor that isn’t interested in providing your desired level of customer service, custom integrations, or software customization that will give you the ROI that will transform your business. 

Can your vendor empower your team and support them in a walkthrough, overcome process challenges, or be readily available for questions in the field? Some businesses need that extra level of service to analyze their operations, build an improved SCM process, and translate that into optimized WMS workflows. Your staff will benefit from skilled on-boarding and training during the steep early learning curve. In those cases, make sure your provider is committed to a partnership and shared growth mindset. Know what your in-house capabilities are and identify gaps where you might need to invest in external support to execute your plans. To be successful, you need a partner rather than a software provider.

WMS warehouse management system mistakes 2
No-no: “Enough funding means we’re (I’m) ready.”

Why: Financial approvals are only a small piece of the first step. Funding – no matter how much – will not help you meet deadlines, understand your warehouse workflow, onboard untrained staff, or ensure a strong deployment plan. Fiscal resources won’t guarantee that the warehouse staff, leadership, and vendor are moving forward with the same goals in mind. 

There’s a lot of preparation homework to do, even before compiling a list of suitable vendors and researching your options.

Do you know what you have in your inventory? 
Do you really understand your fulfillment process? 
Are you aware of your staff’s performance and their capabilities? 
What is your current capacity and what are future warehouse plans?

While price is a big factor (of course), make sure your entire WMS implementation team has worked out a clear path with realistic deadlines that can accommodate your long-term business plans. You need a high level of self-awareness, as well as a partner who is trustworthy, dedicated, and communicative to make that happen.

WMS warehouse management system mistakes 3
No-no: “[WMS] meets my current requirements. That’s all we really need.” 

Why: Deciding on a WMS that can meet your current needs, but is otherwise future-inflexible means you’re setting yourself up for a delayed failure. Technology can become outdated quickly, so make sure to invest in a vendor that is continuously innovating and will deliver you agile WMS solutions, year after year. You may not be able to anticipate changes in consumer demand, industry regulation, supply chain transformation, or technology advancements yourself – but you need to be able to rely on a technology provider who will push out key updates, reconfigurations, customizations, and introduce new integrations. 

Your WMS provider should demonstrate a strong commitment to supply chain technology R&D. When augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), automated guided vehicles (AGV’s), or the not-yet-invented ‘big thing’ becomes the new cornerstone to warehouse operations, will your WMS be able to embrace and leverage the technology?

Key Takeaway

Chacko notes, “The most persistent challenge I’ve seen is underestimating the level of participation, all-around resource investment, and technical skills required in a WMS implementation. You have to bring your leadership around the table before you start and ask: ‘Where do we want to be?’ and ‘What do we really need to get there?’ That is the most important first step to calculating ROI, understanding the potential costs and benefits of a WMS, and clarifying expectations for everyone moving forward.” 

Additionally, he adds, “Two of the most important factors of a successful WMS implementation are the vendor’s commitment to the customer and true operational/business knowledge. After you’ve found a WMS provider who offers both, it’s a matter of product and partnership fit.”

Remember, embarking on a new WMS is exciting and highly valuable, but only if you’ve done the proper internal research and clearly set your own expectations beforehand. There’s no replacement for the value of custom SCM consulting, service, and support – no matter how good a demo or review is. Do your homework and don’t skimp on resources to truly investigate your warehouse management needs and WMS options. 

At Seldat Technology Services (STS), we are problem solvers, next-generation thinkers, and efficiency aficionados. Operating at both local and global scales, STS offers comprehensive solutions packages developed by in-house industry experts, tested against real-world scenarios, and designed for the changing supply chain. Learn more about Seldat Technology Services’ supply chain solutions and get in touch with our experts today.