Warehouse Management Systems are for big companies? Are we too small?

The answer to this question is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

If the cost of a warehouse management system (WMS) is totally out of proportion to the size of your business and would take many months to implement then the answer is probably ‘Yes’.  

But if there is a system that provides the features you would normally find in a high end WMS solution, but which is very affordable for your business and can be implemented quickly and easily, the answer is ‘No, you are not too small’.

Size is a relative term as we all know, so it is quite possible that some businesses won’t derive benefit from such a system, even at modest cost. The question for a business that maintains any size of stockholding should be: ‘what kind of problems do we have managing physical stock, and could things be done things better?’  

For example, the kind of issues to consider might be:

  • Are you able to process incoming stock receipts quickly and capture relevant information without errors?
  • Can you quickly determine and allocate space to store goods in your facility, taking into account any storage preferences?
  • Are putaway locations accurately verified and recorded on a system for picking and reporting purposes?  
  • Can you direct your staff to the right pick locations taking account of things like stock rotation, status and batch control?
  • Can this be done efficiently to achieve the best utilisation of space and labour time?
  • Do you have a secure despatch process to prevent incorrect orders being sent to your customers?
  • Can you successfully manage and audit all changes to your stock so that the picture is always correct? 
  • Can you generate a selective count of your physical stock to verify it against your system figures?  
  • Can you get accurate real-time location-based stock figures for all the products you store?

If none of these are ‘issues’ at all then it’s likely that your business is not of a size to derive much benefit from a WMS system. Either that or you already have good systems to cope with such events without a problem.

On the other hand, if some of these questions ring familiar bells and you are experiencing problems because of the way you currently work then it may be time to look at what’s available to help you.  

Any problem, to some extent, will cost you money whether it’s because of wasted time, inefficient processes, poor productivity, errors causing failed deliveries, product returns or corrective actions.  Calculated properly, the cost may be higher than you think.  

It follows then that if you can use something to eliminate these operational problems, and the cost to use it is less than you could potentially save, the result is a net gain. But that’s only one facet of using a WMS and not the only justification for doing so.

Our experience is that our clients ultimately realise many more benefits than expected, rendering the monthly system cost largely irrelevant.