or concerns about the ease of use, I recommend that they provide scripts for key processes and ask the WMS provider to walk through these processes,” Wolin says. Seeing the system in action is the best way to understand the user experience. “Be specic on what you want to see in a demo,” Levy says. “Build a ‘scripted demo’ that represents your daily operation. In these scripted demos, each vendor will show you how your day would look using their system. You’ll get a good feel about the system’s ease of use and if it is a right t for your operation.” Demos work best when you “make sure the right people are in the room,” Kirpalani says. “It’s not just executives and decision-makers, it’s also the people who actually use the systems. “When we bring the right people in— the receiving supervisor, the shipping supervisor—they can see what the steps are to execute a certain process,” Kirpalani says. “They can see if it clears their comfort level and decide if it is too complex or will make life easier.” During demos, Levy recommends paying special attention to navigation and data visibility. “Spending too much time looking for data across the system can be exhausting and overwhelming for end users,” he says. He provides a simple example. “When you manage the outbound shift, you need to have the entire operation displayed on the wave management screen so you can track the progress of all your orders, loads, tasks, and labor, as well as any challenges, alerts, or exceptions,” Levy says. “This is key to ease of use and the ability to perform the work.” 5 Look ahead. Selecting a WMS is not just about picking the right system for the moment. It’s about choosing the right system for the years ahead, too. “Think about your future needs from a scalability standpoint,” Kirpalani says. “If you think that in the next two or three years, you might need a transportation solution, an inventory allocation
Many warehouse management systems, such as SnapFulfil, are highly configurable and can adapt to meet evolving fulfillment demands.
3 Talk to other clients. Once you narrow the eld of potential vendors, conduct reference checks to get a clearer picture of what working with a particular WMS vendor and solution will look like. Speaking with a vendor’s clients should provide unvarnished feedback about customer service, ease of use, and other issues. “Reference checks allow potential clients to ask questions directly of other clients who have implemented these solutions in the past,” Kirpalani says. “They can have candid conversations about what works and does not work for them.” Levy agrees that reference checks are invaluable when researching a vendor’s customer support capabilities. “Talk to customers and get their experience in working with the vendor support desk,” Levy says. “How knowledgeable is support? How often do they have to escalate? Look at key performance indicators such as average of number of tickets, time to respond, and time to resolve. WMS is mission critical; it’s a big issue if it stops working.” 4 Demos are revealing . Once you narrow your list of contenders to two or three, a demonstration of each WMS provides hands-on understanding of how they work in action. “If the shipper has specic scenarios
Dig below the surface on price, recommends Brian Kirst, vice president, sales and business development for Synergy North America, a Colorado- based WMS. “Successful WMS adoption is all about foresight rather than hindsight, so when evaluating WMS suppliers be sure to check their rate structure and recurring fees,” he says. “Understanding how rates and fees impact your own business projections keeps total cost of ownership low and manageable,” Kirst adds. He recommends asking three questions to get an idea of how deeply you’ll need to dig to get to an accurate calculation: 1. What percentage of total revenue comes from professional services—not including implementation? 2. How many engineers carry a billable hour requirement? 3. What is the services hourly rate and is that attened? Or are there specic rates for various tasks such as development, testing, integrations, administration, and technical documentation? “If your WMS supplier receives most of its lifetime revenue from other chargeable activity, then there will be serious and expensive commitments to pay for at frequencies long through your partnership,” Kirst notes.
100 Inbound Logistics • September 2022
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