What are your goals and objectives in running your distribution center’s fulfillment operation? Most managers would agree it is simply to get the orders out 1) fast, 2) with 100% accuracy and 3) at the lowest labor cost. Their next statement would probably be, “That it is easier said than done.” However, there are software tools available that can dramatically improve your results in all three of these areas. Whether it is the simplest warehouse or a major e-commerce facility, a Warehouse Management System (WMS) just may be the right place to look.
Here are 5 things to consider when investigating your own WMS requirement:
- DO imagine a perfect world where orders are entered on the cloud, delivery dates immediately promised, pick tasks are transparently placed into your workflow, items are optimally slotted, orders are batched and 99.9% accurate, pickers are optimally routed, and packing and shipping is highly automated—all within a couple of hours. Think of a cost you would be willing to spend to achieve that as you move forward.
- DO use a warehouse management checklist before talking with any software supplier. They are available from many consultants and usually consist of 100 true-false statements that assign priorities when evaluating multiple vendors. 75% of the line items will fit most providers, but 25% may mean more and help you find the system that best meets those prioritized criteria. Pay special attention to labor tracking and slotting features—they provide the fastest payback.
- DO trust but verify vendor claims. All vendors say they have all functions, but some are busily writing custom code to accomplish it. Custom means increased costs, but more importantly, could mean support difficulties and lost flexibility in the future. Check vendor’s recent project references via web searches, site visits, and phone calls!
- DO NOT believe fast implementation claims. Successful projects plan for at least 6 months, have a clear up-front Gantt chart of tasks with responsibilities, use an internal project manager, and do not adhere to a final deadline over interim ones.
- DO use an external project manager that has done many similar projects. The best payback comes from the handling of details and exceptions, and expertise and experience are very key to achieving the best end results.