5 simple steps to choosing the right warehouse management software

WMS systemHas the time come for you to migrate over to a new warehouse management software?  If so, you have quite a task ahead of you.  One that requires significant resources.  A defined game plan will help you identify the correct system.  Once you have chosen a new system, it starts to get even more difficult with implementation looming.  Just another reason to do the hard work upfront and be sure that you have selected the right system for your company.  Below are 5 easy steps that you can utilize to help conduct your search:

1.  Research the market
The obvious first step when getting into your initial search is to conduct a thorough review of the WMS industry.  It is important to start off with a list of the most important charactaristics as they relate specifically to your company.  Do you want a SaaS system?  Do you handle lots of unique client accounts that must be accounted for?  Using this framework in mind while looking will help keep your search focused.

This research itself can be conducted through a number of methods.  The first thing to do is to simply web search the main keywords that identify what you are looking for and see which companies are out there.  In many cases, the companies that have put forth an effort to be found on the internet are the ones with the best products.  But not always.  Watch as many web videos and demos as you can to learn about all of the capabilities that various systems support.    Another option is to hire an expert/consultant in the field.  They can help to build a RFP (Request for Proposal) with the specific details of your operation.  They also are likely to have a long list of potential vendors that may be a good match.  Finally, speak with people you know in the industry and ask for referrals and suggestions.  There is no testimony stronger than people/companies that are actually out there using the system.

2.  Create a list of software systems and their capabilities
As you look around, it is important to start building a list of the potential systems that you are considering.  Without a detailed summary of all the systems you have looked at, you can easily lose track of all of the options that each system offers.  It is also a good idea to generate a spreadsheet with all of the software components that you are seeking.  This way you can easily compare the various solutions.

3.  Demo each system
Although most software providers offer specification sheets that list out all of the various capabilities of their system, you will never really know what a WMS can do until you see it with your own eyes.  Although it can be time intensive, it is the only true way to understand how the system works.  Use the resulting informaton to score the systems that you demo and rank them on your list of possibile software systems.

4.  Gather and compare price quotes
The most important detail to add to your summary spreadsheet is the price.  There are plenty of solutions out there that are VERY expensive and you may not want to waste your time talking to sales people and watching demonstrations if the system is completely out of your price range.  It may be best to ask for a ballpark quote right away so that you can filter out those that are not within your budget.  When discussing prices, be sure to get clear information on the set up costs, training, monthly service fees, support fees, per shipment fees or client database fees.

5.  Check references and review contracts
Once you have narrowed your search down to 2 or 3 choices, you should make sure and check out any customer references and look for online reviews.  Hearing from other users is a sure fire way to get solid information about the functionality of the system.  It can also help you understand what it is like to work with the provider.  Ask to see a contract or license agreement and make sure to review in detail as there are often last minute surprises that pop up.  It is always good to get all of these types of details squared away so that your migration and implementation can go as smoothly as possible.

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