The top 10 signs that it’s time to change your WMS

Your WMS is a central component of your warehouse, managing all your logistics activities and operations. But, as time passes, you might find it no longer meets your needs, perhaps because it’s operationally or technologically obsolete. In this article, we look at the top 10 signs that it might be time to change your WMS, no matter what sector or industry you work in.


WMS- or vendor-related reasons


1. Your WMS has a high total cost of ownership

If your warehouse management system was custom-developed for you some time ago, or if you acquired an off-the-shelf WMS and made specific developments to adapt it to your needs, you may find that, as time passes, the total cost of ownership (TCO) becomes too high for you keep maintaining and upgrading it. And then there’s the issue of finding people will the right skills to carry out these tasks.

If this sounds like your situation, then migrating to a new WMS is practically unavoidable. To make sure your investment pays off in the long run, it’s best to opt for an off-the-shelf application that supports granular configuration (to avoid the need for bolt-on developments and the associated maintenance costs). You should also look for a WMS that will last you for years to come (i.e., from a viable and reliable vendor).


2. The vendor no longer upgrades its WMS

When you choose an off-the-shelf solution, you’re also choosing a vendor. So when the existing vendor is no longer providing upgrades and new features—or when these are few and far between—it’s time to consider replacing your WMS. This is especially true if you want your WMS to keep pace with new logistics challenges. For instance, you might need it to handle e-commerce processes, provide real-time visibility of stock across all logistics sites, manage mechanized and automated systems, optimize your return management processes, schedule order picking tasks in real time, and so on.

It’s also important to consider what hosting arrangements are available (if any), and whether these are on-premise, or in a private and/or public cloud. The hosting arrangements will also depend on whether the WMS can scale without compromising on performance as warehouse activity volumes increase.


3. Your WMS is technologically obsolete

Warehouse management systems are increasingly connected with other, internal and third-party applications, such as ERP, TMS and WCS systems, as well as carrier and shipper information systems. But if your WMS is built on outdated technology, it may prove prohibitively costly—or even impossible—to manage these connections through APIs and other web services.

This issue will have knock-on effects all along the supply chain, since the WMS will be unable to interact with your other systems, or give you a real-time overview of your operations. What’s more, compared with a cloud based WMS, outdated technologies limit flexibility and agility, which are especially important for handling workload peaks.


Business-related reasons


4. Your business is growing and evolving

As your business grows, your warehouse management requirements will naturally change and/or diversify. You might, for instance, need to process a growing volume of goods or new types of products, handle increasingly complex flows (multi-site and omnichannel flows, return management flows, etc.), or manage tasks allocated to mechanized and/or automated systems.

If your WMS is no longer meeting your needs—or if you’re noticing issues such as poor productivity, stock-level, picking or shipping errors, lengthy picking lead times, or suboptimal use of warehousing space—then this is a clear sign that it’s time for a change.


5. Your goal is to improve quality of service and customer experience

In just a few short years, the growth of e-commerce and the arrival of new market players have seen customers become increasingly demanding. These days, customers expect shorter delivery lead times, want to be able to track their orders in real time, and demand an omnichannel experience encompassing web-to-store, click & collect, in-store returns and exchanges for online orders, and more.

You need to invest in an advanced WMS in order manage the new logistics flows resulting from these shifting expectations. Otherwise, you run the risk of errors, late deliveries, and communication problems with your customers and partners (carrier and shippers), all of which can harm your reputation and curtail the growth of your business.


6. You’re seeking to gain a competitive edge

Delivering on your customer promise always gives you a competitive edge. This applies in every sector and across all types of warehouses, but it’s especially true in e-commerce and for logistics providers (3PL). It’s also worth noting that most logistics providers include details of the WMS they use in their sales pitch.

If your WMS isn’t flexible enough to adapt to change and doesn’t let you make best use of the storage, human, and technical resources available to you, then it’s time to look elsewhere—for a system that will boost your logistics performance while helping to keep a lid on warehouse operation costs.


7. You need to streamline and harmonize multiple WMS following a merger or acquisition

Following a merger or acquisition, companies often find that many systems and processes are duplicated. While onboarding the new entity and its employees is the immediate priority, it’s important to streamline and harmonize working tools and methods in order to guarantee medium- and long-term success. A merger or acquisition is therefore a good opportunity for an organization to review its existing WMS.


Operational criteria


8. You’re going to automate your warehouse

The trend towards warehouse automation is advancing at an ever-faster pace: according to Mordor Intelligence, the rate of growth will increase by 20% per year between now and 2030. Companies are taking this step for many reasons, such as boosting logistics performance, reducing the burden of work on staff, and raising the bar for customer service. But these benefits will only materialize if all resources—mechanized systems, robots and human—are properly managed. And this is only possible with a relatively new WMS that’s designed to coordinate the automated flows associated with operator tasks in real time.


9. You need real-time dashboards and visibility to monitor your operations

A lack of real-time dashboards and smart, customizable indicators is another sign that your current WMS is running out of steam. With today’s ever-shorter delivery lead times, omnichannel models, and increasingly demanding customers, it’s vital to be able to react and make decisions in near-real time. But you can only do this if you have up-to-date data—on stock levels, goods moves, and more—at your fingertips.

Armed with this data, warehouse operators can also reallocate tasks on the fly, or even switch between picking methods multiple times a day, in order to deliver on their customer promise. Again, this is simply impossible with an older WMS.


10. Your existing WMS lacks a user-friendly interface

An unwieldy or overly complex interface can lead to a long learning curve for operators, especially new hires or temporary staff brought in during workload peaks. This extra time spent learning the nuts and bolts of the interface can ultimately harm productivity.

And that’s not all: talent is in short supply in the logistics sector, where jobs are typically seen as physically demanding and unrewarding. However, a WMS with a user-friendly interface—especially on mobile devices—can play a key role in attracting and retaining staff.


If you’re currently considering replacing your WMS, get in touch with our logistics experts to discuss your requirements. Contact us!