Inbound Logistics | September 2022

A play-by-play guide to choosing the warehouse management system that will help you win the supply chain. By Tom Gresham

S electing a new warehouse management system (WMS) can be a dizzying experience. The selection process requires that companies sort through a variety of vendors and systems to narrow their focus to the solution that is the best t for their unique operation. The decision is crucial. An effective WMS plays an essential role in a productive warehouse operation—and in your supply chain as a whole. The number of variables that shippers need to consider when selecting a WMS requires a proven methodology to their approach. Otherwise, “they risk madness,” notes Amit Kirpalani, vice president, supply chain solutions for enVista, an Indiana- based software, consulting, automation and managed services provider recently acquired by Körber. Here are ve key steps that should be part of any WMS selection process. 1 Know thyself. Looking internally with a thorough analysis of your company’s business and IT requirements is an important step to ensure you include the right solution on your short list of vendors. If you are not clear on your require- ments—if you oversimplify them or miss key needs—then “you run the risk of selecting a sub-optimal solu- tion,” Kirpalani says. “You need to ask what it is that you’re trying to get out of your WMS.” Different industries, for instance, have different needs. “It is important to understand the nature of the commodities being managed and shipped,” says Tim Wolin, senior vice president and founder of Wolin Design Group, a California-based provider of supply chain management software solutions. Shippers should consider hiring a consultant who specializes in warehouse operations and can help

2 RFI to RFP. Shippers typically start with a request for information (RFI) to a large group of vendors. They then narrow that list to a smaller group of three to ve vendors that they solicit for a request for proposal (RFP). Once you select the short list of WMS vendors to consider, build a list of requirements. “A supply chain consulting rm can provide RFP templates that you can use,” Levy says. “Consultants can run this process for you and guide you through it.” “If you choose to do the RFPs on your own, build a list of requirements—a spreadsheet of a requirements matrix— send it to all the vendors and request their response,” he advises. “Build a score sheet that allows you to collect all the answers from the different vendors, and then assign a score to each piece,” Levy adds. “Using this scoring sheet to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor can help you nd the right t for your organization.”

throughout the selection process, including understanding the core requirements. Companies should strive to understand what is driving them to invest in a new WMS. Looking inward includes dening your challenges— such as service issues or inventory accuracy—and dening the processes that need improvement. When shippers understand how complex their operation is they can understand how sophisticated a WMS they need. Too often, shippers “don’t pay enough attention to their requirements,” notes Amit Levy, executive vice president, customer solutions and strategy at Made4net, a New Jersey-based provider of supply chain execution and warehouse management solutions. “Shippers share how they do things and often expect the vendor to identify areas for improvement,” Levy says. “But it is not the WMS vendor's job to analyze operations and identify those challenges.”

Some WMS solutions contain a labor management component. Made4Net's LaborExpert, for example, can help companies evaluate and improve current processes, and track progress toward labor performance and utilization goals.

September 2022 • Inbound Logistics 99 • Inbound

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