18 Questions Manufacturers Should Ask When Selecting WMS/WCS Software (part 1)

viadat_WMS_Weltbild_NRIf your manufacturing operation is in the market for a new warehouse management system (WMS) (either best-of-breed or SAP LES or EWM) or a new (or integrated) warehouse control system (WCS) to track and control inventory and its movement, there are several considerations to keep in mind. When evaluating an investment in a new warehouse execution system (WES) that combines WMS/WCS software, or an upgrade to an existing system, you have a lot of choices. Further, your level of material handling automation (either existing or planned) can have a critical impact on your ultimate software selection.

To help figure out which WMS/WCS solution is best for your application, here’s a checklist of 18 questions to ask. Use them as you navigate your software selection process.

Questions to Determine Your Ideal WMS/WCS Software System

  1. Does the software utilize standard configurable software code tailored to meet your operation’s unique requirements with add-on functionality modules (or user exits or hooks), or does the vendor custom-code the software for each installation?
  2. What percent of the code implemented for your operation will be the vendor’s standard base code, and what percent must be customized?
  3. Does the software offer a standard interface-mapping tool for smoother, easier installation, testing and validation?
  4. Does the software support your core business processes without major code modifications?
  5. Is the software configurable by your team of experts or is the vendor required to make changes?
  6. Does the software vendor provide access to source code?
  7. Can the software be easily configured to match your business processes? Focus particularly on the following areas:
  • Addition of informational/actionable fields
  • Native support of multiple languages in the system, without writing additional code to do so
  • User-friendly, configurable fields and attributes
  • Carrying of additional information required by the host system
  • Simultaneously interface with multiple host systems of different formats and interface protocols
  • Support of user exits and add-on capabilities
  • Ease of interface/integration with your preferred ERP system (such as SAP, infor, SAP Business One, in-house developed systems, etc.)
  1. Is the software user interface easy for end users and system administrators to utilize and support?
  2. Is the software rigorously tested to validate the standard configurable software development prior to release—and then again after the configuration process—prior to each project implementation? (Also, be sure you validate the vendor’s testing procedures.)
  3. Will software upgrades and/or replacements be required?
  4. If software upgrades and/or replacements are required, how complex are the upgrade, maintenance and modification processes?
  5. Does the software provide data collection, archiving and statistics to support (or enhance) your operation’s key performance indicator (KPI) tracking?
  6. Does the vendor provide fully integrated KPIs as part of their core package, or will you have to pay for a separate module and implementation process before you can use them?
  7. Can the software support tightly integrated and varied automation options?
  8. Does the software provider of the WMS also provide tightly integrated WCS software, and—if optimized for automation—share the same tables?
  9. Does the WCS offer configurable options or just a background hard coded integration to various automated systems?
  10. How old is the software, how frequent are the new releases, and how has the software evolved/been developed?
  11. How do new features and functions get added to the software, and who influences the software’s development direction?

Once you have selected the warehouse management system or warehouse control system (WMS/WCS) software, who will implement it? Check out Part 2: 20 Questions Manufacturers Should Ask When Selecting a WMS/WCS Integrator.

Wondering what warehouse execution software can do for your supply chain as a whole, extending beyond manufacturing and into fulfillment operations? This white paper offers an in-depth look at the possibilities. Then, give our software experts a call at 616.977.3950 to discuss your manufacturing operation’s needs—and ask us all 18 of the questions listed above.

About Nancy Malone

Nancy is responsible for US software sales & IT consulting at the North American headquarters of viastore systems in Grand Rapids, MI. She has over 20 years of experience in specifying, designing, building, implementation, training, sales and marketing of technology solutions for the Supply Chain. Her focus is on helping customer’s apply technology to streamline their business processes, enabling value added solutions through listening, offering solutions and then delivering.

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