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Nail your WMS Selection Process

Trying to decide on the right WMS?

Here’s 3 steps from someone who did having learned them the hard way!

Good decisions, bad decisions, …and crazy decisions.

People make odd decisions every day. For example, a decision to go searching for a car based on the colour of the seats! Ok, it’s a crazy example. The point is, if there’s a wrong way to do something, someone will have found it and done it.

“We’re all ok. We’ve a proven method guaranteeing good decisions in our business”.

Successful modern companies make good decisions. Always! There’s a proven method to guide them. Gather the data, analyse it, test the alternatives. Voila! A good decision. Right?


They still make the wrong decision, sometimes in spectacular fashion:

  • Decca Records rejected “The Beatles” (because “…guitar bands were on the way out”). 
  • Coca-Cola decided to change their legendary recipe (and had to change back fast).
  • Kodak decided digital wasn’t for them (and missed out on leveraging their heritage)

Whether it’s…

  • overconfidence - “we’re masters of the universe!”,
  • groupthink – “Dissent has no place in this company!”, or
  • reliance on poor information – “Our in-house market research team confirm that…”,

…good people, in good companies, with good intentions, can make bad decisions.

I see this in the WMS selection process. Companies viewing a WMS through the wrong lens. Their distorted view gives an incomplete picture of how they’ll benefit. Realised in time, they can reset the lenses. The WMS selection process can restart with the correct focus.

“We went off looking in the wrong direction from the start…”.

In a recent chat with a customer, they spoke about their company’s flawed initial process. Fortunately for them, they were able to correct their focus. They made an informed WMS selection. It was their precursor to a successful WMS implementation.

What were their learnings?

  1. You need to do your WMS homework first.
    1. Needs: What do I need in a WMS?
      1. In other words, where’s my pain?
      2. Where do I see it improving my current processes?
      3. What the views of ALL my stakeholders? From operators up to the GM?
    2. What’s my Business Case?
      1. INPUT: What benefits can I expect? (Efficiency, accuracy, cost reductions)
      2. INPUT: What are my expected/indicative/acceptable costs?
      3. OUTPUT: A clear document showing the costs, benefits and return on investment (ROI).
    3. What’s my Selection Criteria going to be?
      1. Critical features and functionality?
      2. It must be able to cope with the company’s plans to grow organically AND through acquisition.
      3. It must have proven integration with my existing systems.
  2. Map and document existing warehouse processes.
    This is a necessary evil taking your staff off-task, consuming their valuable time. It’s an investment of their time (and your money) to know where you are. It’s mapping and documenting your warehouse processes. From where you are - Point A - and where you need to be – Point B.
    1. Identify and map current processes.
      1. Where do we cause our customers pain?
      2. Where is our pain?
      3. Where are we relying on spreadsheets?
    2. Identify what processes need to improve.
      1. Processes that need streamlining.
      2. Processes (or lack of) that drive data inaccuracy?
      3. Where can we create (or increase our) efficiency?
    3. Identify where we see a WMS delivering or facilitating process improvements.
      1. In inventory management?
      2. In visibility via reporting to improve control?
      3. In real-time visibility to drive accuracy in order fulfilment?
    4. OUTPUT: a Gap Analysis of the current against the desired future state. This will give you a checklist! You can then begin a WMS selection process with the confidence of knowing your Point A and Point B.
  3. Make sure you focus on what matters.
    1. Be aware of the tendency to spend time (& money) on looking at the unnecessary. A WMS will solve warehouse issues, not the issues of the various stakeholders of other areas.
    2. Focus laser-like on what matters.
      • Is the WMS you’re looking at a good fit for your organisation?
      • Will it integrate with your other systems?
      • Will it grow with you?
      • Are you on guard against over-customising (aka over-complicating)?

“It’s a sizeable piece of work. I’ve a fair idea of where things are. I think I’ll skip it…”

  • You know the status quo isn’t serving you well.
    • You’ve identified a need for a WMS system.
    • The business will only give you one shot at this.
  • Who has the time, money, or goodwill to waste by going off track during the WMS selection process?
    • If things do, the business will come to wonder about the merits of the project.
    • A “fair idea of where things are” leaves you without a clear foundation of what you need from a WMS.
  • Do you want to manage a situation where the view of the benefits a WMS can deliver (ROI) start to suffer?

You can make a call...

An experienced WMS Supplier can help guide you in this initial internal process.

  • They want to set you up for success.
  • Setting you up for success sets them up for success.

…after all, their livelihood depends on it.

Nail your preparation and nail your eventual selection.

Achieving a successful WMS selection and implementation is a big feather in anyone’s cap. It doesn't harm your personal LinkedIn profile either. That big feather is the reward earned for making good decisions.

Good decisions follow in a WMS Selection process when you have a clear focus on…

  • Where you are starting from – Point A
  • Where you want to be – Point B
What you need to get there – the right WMS …and in that way, you’ll never decide to buy a new car based on the colour of the seats!


Take A Look At The Results Of A Successful WMS Implementation.

See how Tarsus Distribution, in collaboration with SCJ boost overall efficiency by 60%