WMS for the SMB: Factors to Consider When Implementing a Warehouse Management System

By: | Category: Distribution / Manufacturing

In a previous post, we highlighted ten signs that indicate it’s time for a SMB to invest in a warehouse management system (WMS). This post will examine some attributes to look for when implementing a WMS, to reduce the risk of unexpected delays in implementation and to make sure that critical success factors are all addressed.

The fear that moving from a manual approach to a WMS will disrupt their warehouse is common among small and midsize business (SMB). They are also worried about whether the system can handle their particular way of doing business. These are valid concerns that can be addressed by taking some key details into consideration before implementing warehouse management software for small businesses. Leading enterprise research firm ChainLink Research lists a number of factors to look for in a WMS solution to ensure that the implementation process is as agile and smooth as possible.

Here are factors to consider:

    1. Cloud and SaaS Warehouse Management System – The benefits of cloud based WMS and a SaaS system is that they allow for fast deployment, no maintenance costs, and lower IT costs. A true SaaS or software as a service eliminates the upfront capital costs of buying hardware and finding data center space to house it and drastically reduce the need for system administration. A cloud-based WMS can be customized to meet your unique business needs and offers additional features such as higher data security protocols for businesses that handle higher value inventory. Both systems are tailored to fit various types and sizes of businesses. While the SaaS solution is better suited for smaller businesses with low complexities, a Cloud WMS is more ideal for medium to large size businesses as well as those with more complexities. Irrespective of the size of your business, you can benefit greatly from a WMS that increases business efficiency and productivity.
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  1. Industry‐specific blueprints — Some vendors offer industry‐specific templates that leverage proven best practices and processes for specific industries. Rightly done, these can go a long way to cut down the implementation time. You do not have to spend excessive time figuring out how to configure the system and how to set up processes and screens, since the solution provider has taken care of that upfront.
  2. Integration with your ERP system — ERP and WMS integration is an important factor to consider. It is crucial to achieving the agility you need to make effective business decisions, become more competitive, and simplify the data management process. A WMS that is natively built on the ERP platform often offers the tightest integration. Many best‐of‐breed WMS systems are pre‐integrated with major ERP systems as well.
  3. Simple configuration and customization —For a nimble approach to work, a system must be easy to adapt over time, so that a business can incrementally improve their performance and use of the system. The ability to easily and rapidly configure and customize a solution, in a way that is guaranteed to survive future releases and upgrades, is a key required element for a WMS for small businesses.
  4. Agile implementation programs —Some WMS solution providers have agile or rapid implementation programs designed to get business up and running quickly, within a bounded period of time.
  5. Modern UI/UX — The ease‐of‐use of a WMS for small businesses/SMBs can greatly reduce the system training needed, as well as make it easier to get new employees up to speed in the future.

A company that currently uses paper‐based/manual approach in their warehouse can greatly benefit from automating warehouse management. A properly implemented warehouse & distribution management for SMBs will yield noticeable improvements in inventory accuracy, perfect order rates, on-time shipment, labor efficiency, and throughput. Taking all these above factors into consideration can help SMBs reduce risks and accelerate the implementation process.