What Are the True Costs of a New WMS?

Thinking about purchasing a new Warehouse Management System (WMS)?

There is a significant amount of research to suggest that a majority of WMS projects run significantly over budget. Some even fail because of the following factors. If you plan for and address these up front, you’re much more likely to achieve the business objectives you desire.

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about managing change.”

  • Licensing: This is what everyone focuses on but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today, the first area of focus should be whether you desire a premise-based, hosted or cloud-based solution. There are many factors that go into this, especially the quality of your current technical resources and your short /long term investment and ROI goals. The next thing to determine is whether your vendor’s licensing is based on “named” or simultaneous users, the latter requiring fewer licenses or “seats.” The last thing to consider and negotiate is the initial number of years of the contract and what the renewal rates will be.
  • Infrastructure upgrades and improvements that will be required: 
    • Premise-based – server, storage, network capacity and redundancy
    • Cloud-based – WAN bandwidth, security
    • Warehouse – Wi-Fi network capacity and strength; barcode signage; if pick and pack stations are desired, the terminals, printers, scanners and labels required
  • Project Plan: Where the rubber meets the road! The first thing that needs to be clearly understood is the difference, if any, between the vendor’s plan and yours. Every company’s goals and objectives are unique.
    • Is the new WMS for a new customer, maybe even in a dedicated facility or is the project objective a full migration of all customers, in multiple facilities?
    • What other software systems need to be reviewed and integrated – Accounting, TMS, CRM, etc.
    • Is the vendor’s philosophy “train the trainer,” teaching you about the system and assuming you’ll take it from there? There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it makes great sense from a budget perspective, as long as you have the talent and time to do so.
  • Training and Support: The best analogy we can share is a seesaw. The better quality training you provide to your staff, the fewer issues you’ll have and the less support you’ll require … and vice versa. Each WMS vendor has unique strengths and weaknesses in this area and we strongly suggest that you do proper due diligence before signing a contract.
  • Customer Migrations: The goal is to delight your customers with improved quality of service and good communication is key.
    • Explain well in advance what will be happening, why and when
    • Determine if a full physical inventory is required or this data can be migrated from the current WMS. This should be looked at from the dual perspective of the quality and confidence in current inventory accuracy (in location) and whether or not barcode labels need to be applied as license plates.
    • How will testing this be done, internally and with your customers?
    • What are your success objectives, and are they 100 percent in alignment with your customers’? Now is the time to review what’s in place today and develop “explicit agreements” addressing any gaps in rates, services and business reporting.

Sound like you? At ATS, we help executives in manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and logistics, to select and implement new technologies which increase profits, improve operational efficiency and maximize their customer satisfaction.