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Assistance with WMS Procurement

“WMS” is short for “Warehouse Management System”. A Warehouse Management System is a collection of software and equipment that helps a company manage inventory and process customer orders. Systems can range from very simple inventory control systems (such as a simple database used in a stock room) to a highly complex and sophisticated system that manages reorder of inventory and the creation of optimized order picking sequences based on real-time information.

Not Every Company Needs a WMS!

Not every company will benefit from obtaining a WMS system. Companies that have good order management and inventory control sometimes are better off with their existing IT infrastructure. WMS projects involve complex mapping of your company's existing business practices to the WMS's existing processes and capabilities. Commonly, there are gaps between the WMS's capabilities and your desired business functions. In these cases, your business processes must be changed or the WMS software must be modified. In addition, WMS projects require long-term commitment and it is crucial that a computer savvy person be available to support the client-side of the effort.

We can help you decide if a WMS is right for you by doing some up-front evaluation of your current situation and an assessment of your company's ability to support a WMS deployment.

 Creation of Business Case for the WMS System

The first step in defining a WMS system for your company is to determine if there is a business case for acquisition. We will help you define your needs and turn these into functional requirements. 2wmc will identify basic requirements such as the number of orders and lines processed in a day, the number of stock locations to be managed, and the number of SKUs needed. Specifications regarding product identification codes, location systems, number of order pickers, and the general size of orders will also be considered. Optimization will be considered based on batching of orders or product velocity segregation. From these and other parameters, 2wmc will develop a functional specification of the “ideal” system.

Creation of an RFP Document

An RFP is a formal specification document describing what is desired from an WMS vendor. As described in the section above titled “Selection of Equipment, System, and Service Providers” there are trade offs between doing formal RFP’s and making an educated selection of appropriate vendors. This is particularly true for software systems, since they tend to be rather complex, and no two systems are implemented in exactly the same way. 2wmc will work with your team to determine whether a formal RFP is needed or whether a less formal evaluation process should be used to choose a suitable WMS vendor.

Evaluation of Vendors

Note that the “ideal” system may not be supported by any existing vendor, and the functional definition serves only as a starting point. In many cases, vendors will propose alternative strategies to try and satisfy your project requirements. 2wmc can help to evaluate how effective these alternatives will be for your specific situation. 2wmc can participate in design reviews, site visits, and product demonstrations. One of the best ways to determine if a product will be appropriate for your business is to identify another business with similar requirements already using the proposed system.

Customization of Functional Requirements for the Selected Vendor

Once a vendor has been chosen, 2wmc can help by working with the vendor to choose modifications which 1) are low risk, and 2) don’t cost “an arm and a leg”. This process involves a trade-off between the ideal system and what is reasonably practical. In most cases, there are compromises and work-arounds that will yield very acceptable results without compromising the overall functional requirements of the system.

 Assistance with Custom Software Development

2wmc can also help with custom software development, when indicated. We can help define the formal functional requirements for these efforts. Often, many custom requirements revolve around the interface between your company’s existing Information Systems and the vendor’s system. 2wmc can help define Data Interface Specifications and System Performance Requirements. 2wmc can also help with the definition of custom modules which are unique to your business. For example, if lot control tracking were important to your order picking operation, 2wmc could define how such a system would store and record information about lots.

  Assistance with Implementation and Testing

2wmc can help with the WMS installation, by monitoring implementation phases and helping with validation testing. Testing involves both validation of correctness and evaluation of real-time performance. 2wmc can also generate a comprehensive test plan for the overall effort. 2wmc can construct test scenarios to “push” the system and make sure that it will perform under peak operating conditions.

  Assistance with Resolving Outstanding Vendor Problems

Issues invariably come up. Some relate to a failure to meet contractual specifications. Others will involve areas that are not as clearly defined. 2wmc can help act as a facilitator and negotiator with your WMS vendor to make sure that you are treated fairly when discrepancies and problems occur. In the even that new functionality is requested that was not part of the original contract, 2wmc can make sure that you are charge appropriately for the effort.

  Assistance with Startup

Similar to a general facility startup, 2wmc can help with the startup of a WMS system. A key component of this startup is proper training. 2wmc can insure that vendors provide an adequate level of training before, during, and after the startup date. Often, in the first few days of operation, strange events can take place that are hard to isolate. 2wmc can help in documenting these events and determining whether the events are caused by user error or a problem with the vendor’s system.

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