If your company is using (or considering) a homegrown or built-to-order WMS, it’s time to start asking the tough questions about the current and future viability of those systems for your growing organization.
If you’re deciding between a built-to-order, homegrown, or single-platform warehouse management system (WMS), there are a few key points to keep in mind. Homegrown systems can consume an inordinate amount of IT resources, for example, while made-to-order software options are often highly customized and expensive. Here are five areas where a custom-built or made-to-order solution can be problematic:
- Integration requirements. In most cases, you need an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in order to implement a built-to-order or homegrown WMS (which, in turn, has to be integrated in order to function). With a WMS built on an ERP platform itself, you can skip this step and just start using your new warehouse management system without any extra integration.
- Effective use of IT resources. In a world where the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate, the average internal IT group simply can’t keep up with the pace of change. Not only does that group have to develop the software, but it also has to upgrade and maintain it forever. With a modern, cloud-based system, a veteran software engineer that’s brimming with tribal knowledge won’t set the company back when he or she retires (whereas a homegrown system relies on that knowledge for updates and modifications). A software vendor with experienced software support team available 24/7 is vital.
- Data synchronization. One of the biggest pain points with any new WMS implementation is the synchronization of tables, data, and other key information. A company that has separate tables for inventory, bins and single items, for example, may wind up with mismatches if the synchronization doesn’t go as planned. A unified system with both applications using the same records, tables and other data eliminates these synchronization issues.
- Reusing broken process. If you’re not working with a vendor that has WMS implementation across many different industries, then there’s a good chance you’ll just recreate your own processes without taking into consideration leading practices across the industry. That’s because without that hands-on knowledge of how specific industries use the software, WMS vendors lack leading practice insights needed to ensure the best possible fit for every customer. Look for a vendor and implementation team that has done a lot of these implementations with experience across most industries—experience that ensures that every new installation gets as close to industry best practices as possible.
- Scalability. A homegrown software system will only take your company so far. At some point, whether it’s because you’re expanding your warehouse or moving out into new geographies, you’re going to need a system that can scale with it. Find a vendor that takes the time to get to know its customers and what’s going in their organization, providing options that they may not have thought of.
As you explore your WMS options, evaluate the “hows” and “whys” of what you’re doing today with your built-to-order or homegrown system, and make sure those answers fit well with the needs of your company as it grows. If your current system isn’t scalable, and if it doesn’t offer the right array of add-ons, modules, and other advanced features, then it’s time to reconsider your approach and expand your horizons to include NetSuite WMS.