It's understandable that when considering an upgrade one focuses on the end goal, such as greater efficiency or increased productivity. But without doubt, one of the biggest risks in such projects is to underestimate the time involved and the complexity of such upgrades, both of which can cause the cost to mushroom well above what had been contemplated.
Often the difficulty stems from previous actions customers took to improve their warehouse management systems, Fuerst says. "Many companies have adapted or customized their WMS to fit their business, to fit their workflows, to serve their customers better," he says. "But when they upgrade they underestimate the complexity that has been created by those customizations and changes, which begin to snowball.
"A lot of them run into implementations that are in the 7-figure range, and they have to step back and consider if they are best served spending that kind of money or should they look at alternative solutions from a total cost of ownership perspective."
The WMS industry is moving toward the cloud, and controlling costs is clearly one of the drivers for that, Fuerst says. The reluctance many felt initially has dissipated as they've seen more and more applications, such as customer relationship management, move into the cloud, and as they have seen retail, healthcare, finance and other verticals adopt the model as well.
Better utilization of resources is another driver, Fuerst says. Many companies feel their sometimes limited IT resources are best deployed in customer-facing applications rather than in managing the warehouse. "It's proven out," he says of cloud technology. "More see it as a viable option for their business."
The same is very largely true of voice technology. "People are more comfortable with it now. Many didn't realize the initial benefits they were seeking, but it's also been proven out in many installs."
Performance management and labor management solutions are two very attractive areas in WMS technology, Fuerst says. The first allows managers at a number of levels, as well as employees on the warehouse floor, to manage against key metrics. The latter is instrumental in determining that you can carry out the workflow processes that you have optimized.
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Keywords: Warehouse Management, RFID, Wireless, Bar Code & Voice, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Technology, HR & Labor Management, Global Supply Chain Management, WMS Upgrades, Cloud-Based WMS, Warehouse Management KPIs
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