5 Ways a Custom-built Warehouse Management System Can Come Up Short
Posted by Hayley Null, Manufacturing Industry Marketing Lead
If your company is using (or considering) a homegrown or built-to-order WMS, itâ€™s time to start asking the tough questions about the current and future viability of those systems for your growing organization.Â
If youâ€™re deciding between a built-to-order, homegrown, or single-platform warehouse management system (WMS), there are a few key points to keep in mind. Homegrown systems can consume an inordinate amount of IT resources, for example, while made-to-order software options are often highly customized and expensive. Here are five areas where a custom-built or made-to-order solution can be problematic:
- Integration requirements.Â In most cases, you need an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in order to implement a built-to-order or homegrown WMS (which, in turn, has to be integrated in order to function). With a WMS built on an ERP platform itself, you can skip this step and just start using your new warehouse management system without any extra integration.
- Effective use of IT resources. In a world where the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate, the average internal IT group simply canâ€™t keep up with the pace of change. Not only does that group have to develop the software, but it also has to upgrade and maintain it forever. With a modern, cloud-based system, a veteran software engineer thatâ€™s brimming with tribal knowledge wonâ€™t set the company back when he or she retires (whereas a homegrown system relies on that knowledge for updates and modifications). A software vendor with experienced software support team available 24/7 is vital.
- Data synchronization.Â One of the biggest pain points with any new WMS implementation is the synchronization of tables, data, and other key information. A company that has separate tables for inventory, bins and single items, for example, may wind up with mismatches if the synchronization doesnâ€™t go as planned. A unified system with both applications using the same records, tables and other data eliminates these synchronization issues.
- Reusing broken process.Â If youâ€™re not working with a vendor that has WMS implementation across many different industries, then thereâ€™s a good chance youâ€™ll just recreate your own processes without taking into consideration leading practices across the industry. Thatâ€™s because without that hands-on knowledge of how specific industries use the software, WMS vendors lack leading practice insights needed to ensure the best possible fit for every customer. Look for a vendor and implementation team that has done a lot of these implementations with experience across most industriesâ€”experience that ensures that every new installation gets as close to industry best practices as possible.
- Scalability.Â A homegrown software system will only take your company so far. At some point, whether itâ€™s because youâ€™re expanding your warehouse or moving out into new geographies, youâ€™re going to need a system that can scale with it. Find a vendor that takes the time to get to know its customers and whatâ€™s going in their organization, providing options that they may not have thought of.
As you explore your WMS options, evaluate the â€œhowsâ€� and â€œwhysâ€� of what youâ€™re doing today with your built-to-order or homegrown system, and make sure those answers fit well with the needs of your company as it grows. If your current system isnâ€™t scalable, and if it doesnâ€™t offer the right array of add-ons, modules, and other advanced features, then itâ€™s time to reconsider your approach and expand your horizons to include NetSuite WMS.