Chris Elliott, Consulting Manager, Supply Chain
Helping companies improve their supply chains to drive greater business value through efficiency and productivity
You see the signs. You’re missing orders. You have no inventory insight. Your supply chain is eating away your profit margins. Your Warehouse Management System (or lack of one) just isn’t working.
A new, custom Warehouse Management System (WMS) could be the ideal solution. Just build your own the WMS that does what you want it to do and problems are solved, right? While the solution seems like a logical fix, creating a custom WMS is more like putting your supply chain in handcuffs. This new restriction puts your entire business at risks due to data issues, ITconstraints, and lack of innovation.
Here are a few of the potential pitfalls you should consider before building a custom Warehouse Management System.
If your WMS doesn’t have the same data as your financial system of record, your supply chain could be leaking revenue.
Developing a custom WMS can lead to siloed data that breaks communication with the other system you need to manage your business. While APIs can help, these integrations between multiple systems sometimes break or only work properly with hours of programming.
Even if you build the APIs and other integrations between each and every system, what about reporting? Each application tends to have its own method of gathering and showing data. These different reporting processes cause confusion when systems try using and interpret the data.
Using a WMS that’s native to your ERP platform eliminates the need for lengthy and expensive integrations. You also reduce the risk of errors occurring because the entire ERP uses a common data source. Communication is streamlined and all your information can be leveraged for consistent reporting.
A custom WMS is a significant investment that has the potential to quickly drain IT resources.
Not only do you need a team with diverse skills to architect and code the warehouse application, you also have the never-ending expense of system enhancements, changing integrations, and continuous infrastructure updates.
Your business won’t have the time or resource to innovate with so many people maintaining a single application. This lack of innovation may cause you to miss out on supply chain planning productivity and automation opportunities.
A cloud-based, holistic platform helps you maximizes IT’s capacity so they work closely with operations to innovate and expand your business.
Repeating Bad Processes
How will you architect and design your new warehouse management system? For most companies, a custom WMS means digitizing existing processes to create an electronic record of the transactions.
If you’re not evaluating and optimizing your supply chain processes, your business will more than likely pay for a custom WMS that may not actually solve your biggest problems. Once the process is coded to a WMS, reworking the process can become expensive.
Experienced cloud-based ERP and WMS providers understand best practices for multiple industries and can craft a solution using an existing solution to improve your business. As part of the implementation process, they help you define, evaluate and refine physical processes.
You’ll also have access to configurations that will fit your industry, smarter processes, and innovative recommendations.
Every business is built with growth in mind. Your warehouse management system should also scale as your supply chain expands. This includes taking advantage of new business opportunities and multiple warehouses.
If you create a custom WMS, the system you spent a lot of time and money on developing may not have the capabilities to scale as your operation grows. You’ll also start to see a diminishing return on your investment
Growth is more easily managed with a cloud-based WMS that uses the same data as your ERP. With a cloud-based system, adding new product lines or clients, expanding or adding new warehouses, or accounting for seasonality becomes simple and is supported by the current system.
Look for a WMS and implementation partner that understands how your business needs to scale in the future. They will take the time to get to know your company so they can provide you with options to account for changes you may not have thought of.
Where to Start
When making any kind of business decision, always identify why and how you are going to accomplish your new goals. This will help you align your goals with the needs of your company today, as well as in the future.
A WMS should promote communication and visibility, improve your processes, and provide you with the flexibility you need as your company grows.
Have questions about your WMS? Contact us.