Pros and Cons of The Best Warehouse Management Systems

A best of breed WMS (warehouse management system) is generally classed as a software application which has been specifically designed to manage stock and warehousing processes. As such, users would expect a greater level of intelligence and features than would be present in a generic ERP (enterprise resource planning) system or accounting solution such as Sage, SAP or Netsuite.

Based on experience, the ClarusWMS team have concluded it is common to find a strong preference between an ‘all in one’ Vs ‘best of breed’ approach within an organisation.

An ‘all in one’ system from one provider is sometimes viewed as a safer option but will most likely lack key functionality in specific areas.

Software applications designed to solve specific problems, e.g. best of breed WMS, will tend to revolutionise the way that particular of the business works but usually rely on multiple partners working together to solve problems.

 

The Pros

 

Big impact!

With best of breed WMS you get more… a lot more! All in one systems tend to be very good at balancing the books financially but offer very little support to a warehousing operation.

A great WMS will allow you to increase your operational throughput

If you have lots of products, lots of orders and operate with both overflow bulk stock and pick locations for the same products, it’s likely your all in one ERP system will fall well short of really helping the warehouse team.

A great warehouse management system will allow you to increase your operational throughput with the same headcount. It will help eliminate fines from major retailers for shipping stock incorrectly. The real-time information will allow better decisions to be taken by purchasing freeing up cash within the business.

Greater business flexibility

With a best of breed software approach, a business can adapt much quicker to economic and market changes.

Having several connected systems, rather than one big system, will allow each functional area to be replaced and upgraded one by one. This will reduce risk and allow the business to continue with minimum disruption.

Everyone has either lived through or heard a horror story about a dreaded upgrade that brought a business to its knees. Look for a best of breed cloud based system to avoid this as much as possible. Cloud platforms have to be far more robust than legacy software due to their ‘one version’ nature. This means scary upgrades are a thing of the past.

Industry experts

When dealing with industry specific software, like a best of breed WMS, you also get the industry skills and experience that come with it.

As an example, the operational team at ClarusWMS have experience in delivering over 100 warehouse management solutions to businesses in a range of industries.

Cloud WMS means scary upgrades are a thing of the past.

That experience is hugely valuable to growing operations facing new challenges. A good implementation team will have seen it before and know how to solve your issues. Experienced delivery teams with a passion for the industry help deliver big impact changes. Teams who deliver ‘a bit of everything’ will tend to lack experience in specific areas watering down the impact of change.

 

The Cons

 

Interfaced systems

When working with best of breed systems, you rely on quality, reliable system integration or EDI. A drop in the interface can mean the solution is not being fed with the correct data and things come to a halt.

Web based systems have been designed to communicate with other systems.

If you are looking to implement a best of breed WMS, you should look for partners that support a range of interfacing methods. Look for a partner using modern interfacing tools such as web services with well documented API’s (application programming interfaces). These are far superior to legacy methods including swapping .csv files back and forth.

Web based systems have been designed to communicate with other systems. Applications designed in 1990’s and 2000’s can be a cause for concern when looking at the best of breed route as there will often be a weak link.

Multiple partners

If you want specialists for certain business functions, it is common to have multiple IT partners.

Many management teams like the idea of one partner as any issues fall firmly at the door of one provider. The concern with multiple providers can be slower diagnostics of issues which have occurred and then slow resolutions times while identifying who is at fault.

To avoid these situations, there should be clear lines of separation for which system handles which business process. There is always going to be reliance on one another but a quality support function from each provider should be able to quickly identify the root cause of an issue.

Multiple databases

When working with a best of breed WMS, everyone will need to accept there is going to be multiple databases holding business critical information. You should also be aware that some processes may change if you are currently using an ‘all in one’ such as Sage200 or SAP Business One and are looking to improve by implementing a best of breed WMS.

Historically, this was a problem. It could mean trying to get data from different systems and then comparing that data manually in an attempt to get the real picture. Those results are never good. This will often lead to mistrust of system data and bad decisions been taken based on poor information.

With modern web based applications, this is much less of an issue. Data can be shared across multiple sources and then viewed using a single reporting tool ensuring that the monthly Board-Pack is 100% correct.

 

Does best of breed WMS sound good?

 

Speak to one of our team to understand how ClarusWMS’ simple cloud subscription platform can support warehouse excellence by promoting better customer service, better results and efficient working for a range of warehouse operations. 

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of cloud warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution and manufacturing.

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