Businesses embarking on the journey to WMS adoption must carefully plot their courses, and consider all of the technical and organizational variables that may affect the final product.

Enterprises across numerous industries are adopting WMS solutions at breakneck pace in an effort to catalyze operational transformation, improve customer service and bolster their bottom lines. This sector-agnostic embrace of WMS technology has generated a compound annual growth of more than 14 percent within the WMS market, which is expected to surpass $3.2 billion by 2023, according to insights from Research and Markets. However, the equation gets more complicated when the actual process of system implementation begins.

Businesses embarking on the journey to WMS adoption must carefully plot their courses, and consider all of the technical and organizational variables that may affect the final product. Here are some of the common factors that every internal implementation team going down the WMS path should consider: 

The state of the operation
This a foundational variable in the WMS adoption equation. Enterprises should always pinpoint backend technology that supports the key production activities that drive business, according to Inbound Logistics. Marc Wulfraat, president and founder for the Quebec-based supply chain advisory firm MWPVL International, told the publication that 70 percent of manufacturing companies maintain industry-standard shipping and receiving processes that so-called "vanilla" WMS offerings – out-of-the-box products with few specialized features – can support. The other 30 percent, however, have niche workflows in place that require customized modules.

Organizations must understand where they are on this production continuum so they can implement technology that makes an impact on their respective shop floors. Those that fail to evaluate the state of their operations before adopting WMS systems are likely to find themselves overseeing backend infrastructure that has little effect on production yet consumes valuable resources.

The vendor selection process
Selecting the right vendor is no easy task – especially now as the WMS market continues to expand and more software providers develop and release proprietary solutions. With the number of products continually growing, implementation teams often encounter myriad options. With this state of affairs in play, it is essential for WMS implementation stakeholders to carefully evaluate vendors and find solution providers that work for them, according to TechTarget. How should businesses go about this process?

Customization is often a good starting point during discussions with vendors. Even enterprises in need of largely standardized system features need some custom elements to see optimal return on investment. Ideally, WMS software providers should be able to craft and deploy custom components that meet the industry-specific needs of their clients. Additionally, WMS adopters should be wary of vendors that offer outrageously low prices, as these reduced fees often conceal higher operating and maintenance costs. Lastly, organizations implementing WMS technology should always request references. Current and past customers can offer essential insight into how vendor solutions work in the real world, along with more relationship-centered customer service information.

The internal environment
WMS implementation teams cannot simply acquire and deploy new technology on their own. These groups must connect with colleagues across the organization to roll out products that translate into real world, according to Inbound Logistics. This involves working with executive stakeholders to free up company resources, collaborating with human resources personnel to draft training materials and talking with end users to understand their needs. Only with assistance from these parties can WMS implementation teams succeed. 

With this in mind, businesses should test the internal waters, so to speak, and gauge employee attitudes toward possible adoption efforts. Those that receive favorable feedback can move forward, while those that field less-than-positive responses should work to build more support.

Enterprises considering WMS implementation would be wise to evaluate these variables before committing to deployment. Firms ready to move onto the actual adoption process should consider partnering with F&A Data Systems. We work with cutting-edge industrial technology partners such as Dell, Microsoft and Rockwell Automation to develop and deploy customized warehouse management solutions that support more productive warehouse workflows. Contact us to learn more about how we can transform the warehousing operations at your business.