1) Maximum Functionality

Obviously, the first thing you need to learn about a WMS solution is what it can do for you.

When analyzing a WMS solution, ask yourself, “Will this WMS streamline our business processes?” For instance, if your company has a hard time measuring employees’ productivity, a good WMS solution will help. A WMS should be able to track what tasks an employee has performed (and where they were performed), giving you direct visibility your workforce’s efficiency.

There are dozens of other ways in which a WMS can help you do more with fewer resources(you can read about those advanced WMS features here).The takeaway from this particular point is that a good WMS maximizes the things it can do for you while minimizing the work on your end.

In short, does the WMS solution do more with less? If so, it might be a good candidate.

2) Ease of Use

If a WMS is easy to use, it will reduce the amount of time you spend on employee training – for ALL employees, from pickers to senior management. A well-designed WMS lets users spend less time setting up and monitoring daily operations, so they are able to quickly adapt to new requirements. New employees can also be up and running in a matter of hours, instead of weeks. Most importantly, clear navigation ensures that all employees will be able to leverage the WMS functionality to the fullest.

When choosing a WMS, look for easy to follow menus and help screens that can improve usability. For example, make sure the WMS allows for simplified data entry and creation of template reports and charts. Similarly, a dashboard view (which automatically updates in real-time) provides users with a single location to access all of their most critical data.

To sum up, does your potential WMS appear easy to use?

 3) Complete Transaction Management

A good WMS will let you manage everything from door to door – from receiving to manifesting.

You want a WMS that gives you detailed information for everything – products, employees, and transactions – every step of the way.

At a minimum, the following are some of the steps that should be tracked:

  • Receiving
  • Putting away received goods
  • Order picking
  • Shipping
  • Cycle counting (inventory audits)
  • Any item movement
  • Business analytics reports

When you can track everything that is going on in your warehouse (from people to movement to products), you can do specialized analysis that will help you hire smarter and stock products more efficiently.

So, when looking at a WMS solution, ask yourself “Does this WMS track and help me manage all of my resources?”

 4) Flexibility

A WMS should be compatible with other versions of:

  • RF scanners/terminals
  • fork truck-mounted RF terminals
  • label printers
  • scales

Finally, how flexible is your potential WMS when it comes to different business types and sizes? A good WMS should have demonstrable success with wholesale and industrial distributors of all sizes.

If your business is successful, it will grow and continue to grow. Your investments, including a WMS, should be able to grow with your business. That’s why flexibility in a WMS is important – so check to see if a potential WMS works with many ERPs, hardware brands and types, and business models and sizes.

5) End to End Solutions

Plug-in modules like Inventory, Billing, Customer support, HR/Payroll and other plugins to your WMS and enjoy the benefits of a mini-ERP to your company.

6) Value for ROI

Price is only one small part of total cost of ownership. Functionality, flexibility, integration, scalability, ease of use, customer support and more all come into play. When choosing a WMS, you obviously need to weigh these factors. Remember that lower upfront cost may seem appealing, but may ultimately cost you more in the long run if the WMS solution (or vendor) is unable to meet your needs as your business continues to grow and develop.

In fact, a poorly chosen warehouse management system can end up costing you more than it saves as you attempt to fix problems with costly integration or customization work to fit requirements. That’s why it’s crucial to look at the overall value of a WMS solution – does the slightly more expensive WMS do more of what you need, now? It might cost you less over the lifetime of the product, even if the initial price tag is more than an off-the-shelf solution that appears frugal.