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3 Tips for Selecting and Implementing a WMS

According to Markets and Markets, the global warehouse management systems market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2021 and is estimated to reach $6.1 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 16.7% from 2021 to 2026. As the market continues to grow, many companies will be shopping for a WMS in the near future, a large and potentially expensive undertaking that requires planning and diligence. If you’re in the market for a new solution, here are some tips on conducting a successful search and implementation from three reputable supply chain experts.

Understand your requirements

Director of Services and Alliances for Bricz, Tyler Linderman, believes “you cannot start a WMS selection project if you don’t have your own business requirements documented in a well and easy-to-read fashion.” Having clear insight into your requirements is critical in ensuring the WMS you invest in achieves all your goals while setting you up for future growth. He recommends visiting all buildings in your operation, establishing what requirements there are, and creating a master document that can be shared with any WMS vendor for clarity.

He also encourages companies to think beyond the present and plan for the next 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. Technology changes very fast, so you need to be planning around the features and functionality you might need down the road. How a system integrates with robotics and automation or various parcel shipping providers may not matter currently, but this could be very important in the future.

Understand the commitment

We may be stating the obvious, but implementing a WMS is a big commitment, which means planning is of the utmost importance. For Supply Chain Advisor, John Sidell, the number one need is “understanding the commitment that you as an organization are making for deployment.” This means “vetting the right vendors to make sure that the requirements you have as an organization align nicely with the capabilities of that software package.”

This goes hand in hand with having the right team on board for the process. Creating an internal resource plan that includes insight from the entire organization including your warehouse team, your IT group, and executive leadership is crucial. Neglecting this step is often what leads to delays and complications down the line.

Understand the complexity

The length of time it takes to deploy a WMS implementation varies based on supply chain complexity, data quality, and required integrations, but on average companies spend between six to eight months on deployment. So, does that mean a WMS deployment is always costly and complex? Thru-Put Partners Project Executive, Kevin Hume says it’s a mixed bag. “The answer is yes and no, quite honestly. I’m quite passionate about this. So yes, from the fact that any technology deployment has some level of complexity to it. The no component of that complexity is defined by the level of detail you have. You can take the most complex tasks and break them down into more discreet components that, in my opinion, don’t make them complex. So yes and no relative to complexity.”

The vendor you choose to go with will also have an impact on cost. While some WMS deployments take nine to twelve months or longer, Made4net’s cost-effective and rapid deployment process is based on a flexible, rules-based platform that supports a user-personalized implementation for an average go-live time of about 20 weeks.

With regard to the expense, Hume continues, “If you’ve done an appropriate business case, you’ve identified the value, and you’ve justified the investment that you’re going to make in this initiative. But absolutely, they’re expensive. It’s a cross-functional task. It’s going to pull resources across the organization. It’s going to bring in technology providers. There’s also a tremendous amount of risk to it as well, but it’s all about tying it back to that business case and the value to execute that plan.”

It’s undeniable, implementing a new WMS is a big undertaking, but you don’t have to go at it alone. We’d love to help you calculate the ROI of your investment and provide other advice that can get you started off on the right foot.

For more expert advice on current and future supply chain issues, check out our Ask the Expert Series recorded at ProMat.