Thinking of investing in a new warehouse management system in 2016? Be sure to ask these five questions – of yourself and of your vendor – before buying.
1. What’s my business objective?
What are you looking to accomplish with a new WMS?
- To replace a current system
- Support new business requirements
- Improve profitability via operational efficiency and new business
- Keep up with the competition and changing customer demands
2. What do you need in a WMS?
This answer needs to come from a cross-functional perspective. Be sure to engage the C-suite, finance, sales, operations, customer service and IT.
Are you seeking a premise-based, hosted or cloud-based system? If you don’t know the differences, you certainly need to before you make any decisions. There will be significant differences in what each individual vendor offers and how it will impact your initial and long term investment.
Remember that today, more than ever before, technology decisions are driven by what your customers require, the electronic interfaces they expect and their ability to see and manage their inventory in web portals.
Finally, be sure to understand, prioritize and document your cross-functional requirements before meeting with any vendor.
3. Where will the new WMS be deployed?
How many warehouse locations will be included, now and in the future? Are they regional, national or internationally owned? Where are your vendor resources, including project management and the delivery team?
4. When do you want to implement the new WMS?
What’s your target date for implementation? When do you need the decision to be made, including legal support and approval? When do you need to start documenting functional requirements?
5. How are you going to do it?
- Is there a project plan for implementation?
- Does it fully address resource requirements?
- Will customer, product and inventory data be migrated?
- Will training and support be provided?
- How will success be measured?