Executive Briefings

The WMS Bloatware Battles

In October, HighJump Software introduced Warehouse Advantage 45. ARC was briefed in more detail this week about this version of their Warehouse Management System (WMS) software. This solution is designed to be implemented in 45 days.

There is a tradeoff between the amount of functionality a software package offers and the speed with which it can be implemented. The more functionality, the more "bloated" the package, the longer it takes to implement. Until a few years ago, HighJump competed mainly among Tier 2 customers (customers with revenues between $250 million and $1 Billion) who did not need a complex solution but did want a solution that implemented quickly, had a good Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and was flexible. It seemed to this analyst, that HighJump examined requests from customers for added functionality more closely, and was more reluctant to add new functionality, because they wanted to protect their TCO and speed advantages.

Then a few years ago, at their annual user conference, they announced that they wanted to greatly beef up the functionality of their package and become more competitive with feature rich solutions from Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie. Inevitably, with time, the speed to implement differentiation began to deteriorate. Last year, ARC called several companies that had implemented WMS from the leading Best of Breed suppliers that had implemented within the last three years. We found that with warehouses of similar complexity, HighJump implemented no faster at the first site than their main competitors. Their solution did implement faster in multi-site rollouts and retained flexibility advantages (the ability to make changes to the software without the vendor's help as processes changed).

HighJump, with Warehouse Advantage 45, has in a sense gone back to their roots. They are selling a solution designed to be implemented in 45 days for warehouses with at most 20 concurrent users, but based on the same software code base as their main solution. This has been attempted by other Best of Breeds in this market with limited success. Some suppliers that want to sell to Tier 2 and 3 companies now have WMS solutions based on different platforms and sell the less complex solution to companies that don't need all the bells and whistles.

HighJump may well succeed where others have failed in achieving fast implementations with a software code base that is feature rich. How do they plan to achieve this?

First of all, customers get a simpler configuration. If they want something complex, like task interleaving, they buy and implement that capability only after the base implementation is completed in the 45 day project. Secondly, they have a Playbook that rigidly defines what HighJump is responsible for and what the customer is responsible for on a day by day basis. At any time it is possible to know if a project is ahead, behind, or on schedule. In short, there is more process rigor around the implementation methodology than I remember seeing in previous attempts to quickly implement complex software. Thirdly, they also insist that their customers get 30 hours of training before the project kicks off.

Finally, they have developed a Web-based "Warehouse Wizard" designed to allow companies to more quickly map their physical layout to the logical warehouse contained in the software. This solution has shortcuts analogous to Macros in spreadsheets designed to speed certain routine, repeatable processes.

From a pricing standpoint, this solution is offered at an attractive price compared to their, and others, higher end solutions. But the price is still, perhaps, about a third higher than solutions from Accellos RadioBeacon and IntelliTrack. However, they argue that with IntelliTrack and Radio Beacon there is limited ability to grow into a more complex solution if needed.

With Warehouse Advantage 45, HighJump in particular is targeting, in the near term, 3 groups of customers. First, Anheuser-Busch has mandated that their distributors, many of whom are small, implement WMS. This is one target group.

Secondly, one of the largest problems Third Party Logistics providers have is on-boarding new customers. Their architecture, they argue, makes this easier in their solution than their competitors.

Finally, they use Micorosft technologies and have become almost pure in their use of Microsoft technologies for reporting, BI, portal etc. in their platform. They are looking to get better aligned with Microsoft and sell into the Microsoft Axapta ERP user base. My advice to them, if they chose to go this route, is to make the look and feel if their solution seamless to Axapta, such that a manager would not know whether they are in Axapta or in HighJump.

In conclusion, a solution rich if functions and features is good. But for less complex warehouses, speed of implementation and TCO are key. It will be interesting to follow this solution/methodology and see if they can succeed where others have failed.
http://www.arcweb.com

In October, HighJump Software introduced Warehouse Advantage 45. ARC was briefed in more detail this week about this version of their Warehouse Management System (WMS) software. This solution is designed to be implemented in 45 days.

There is a tradeoff between the amount of functionality a software package offers and the speed with which it can be implemented. The more functionality, the more "bloated" the package, the longer it takes to implement. Until a few years ago, HighJump competed mainly among Tier 2 customers (customers with revenues between $250 million and $1 Billion) who did not need a complex solution but did want a solution that implemented quickly, had a good Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and was flexible. It seemed to this analyst, that HighJump examined requests from customers for added functionality more closely, and was more reluctant to add new functionality, because they wanted to protect their TCO and speed advantages.

Then a few years ago, at their annual user conference, they announced that they wanted to greatly beef up the functionality of their package and become more competitive with feature rich solutions from Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie. Inevitably, with time, the speed to implement differentiation began to deteriorate. Last year, ARC called several companies that had implemented WMS from the leading Best of Breed suppliers that had implemented within the last three years. We found that with warehouses of similar complexity, HighJump implemented no faster at the first site than their main competitors. Their solution did implement faster in multi-site rollouts and retained flexibility advantages (the ability to make changes to the software without the vendor's help as processes changed).

HighJump, with Warehouse Advantage 45, has in a sense gone back to their roots. They are selling a solution designed to be implemented in 45 days for warehouses with at most 20 concurrent users, but based on the same software code base as their main solution. This has been attempted by other Best of Breeds in this market with limited success. Some suppliers that want to sell to Tier 2 and 3 companies now have WMS solutions based on different platforms and sell the less complex solution to companies that don't need all the bells and whistles.

HighJump may well succeed where others have failed in achieving fast implementations with a software code base that is feature rich. How do they plan to achieve this?

First of all, customers get a simpler configuration. If they want something complex, like task interleaving, they buy and implement that capability only after the base implementation is completed in the 45 day project. Secondly, they have a Playbook that rigidly defines what HighJump is responsible for and what the customer is responsible for on a day by day basis. At any time it is possible to know if a project is ahead, behind, or on schedule. In short, there is more process rigor around the implementation methodology than I remember seeing in previous attempts to quickly implement complex software. Thirdly, they also insist that their customers get 30 hours of training before the project kicks off.

Finally, they have developed a Web-based "Warehouse Wizard" designed to allow companies to more quickly map their physical layout to the logical warehouse contained in the software. This solution has shortcuts analogous to Macros in spreadsheets designed to speed certain routine, repeatable processes.

From a pricing standpoint, this solution is offered at an attractive price compared to their, and others, higher end solutions. But the price is still, perhaps, about a third higher than solutions from Accellos RadioBeacon and IntelliTrack. However, they argue that with IntelliTrack and Radio Beacon there is limited ability to grow into a more complex solution if needed.

With Warehouse Advantage 45, HighJump in particular is targeting, in the near term, 3 groups of customers. First, Anheuser-Busch has mandated that their distributors, many of whom are small, implement WMS. This is one target group.

Secondly, one of the largest problems Third Party Logistics providers have is on-boarding new customers. Their architecture, they argue, makes this easier in their solution than their competitors.

Finally, they use Micorosft technologies and have become almost pure in their use of Microsoft technologies for reporting, BI, portal etc. in their platform. They are looking to get better aligned with Microsoft and sell into the Microsoft Axapta ERP user base. My advice to them, if they chose to go this route, is to make the look and feel if their solution seamless to Axapta, such that a manager would not know whether they are in Axapta or in HighJump.

In conclusion, a solution rich if functions and features is good. But for less complex warehouses, speed of implementation and TCO are key. It will be interesting to follow this solution/methodology and see if they can succeed where others have failed.
http://www.arcweb.com