Warehouses are defined as 'storehouses for goods and merchandise'. This means, that they handle all kinds of materials and goods 'coming in' and 'going out' of the company premises. They are a storage space for your company to store raw materials and finished products.

Thus, it is very important to efficiently manage the records of your warehouse. This is where warehouse management systems (WMS) come into the picture. Apart from providing the obvious automation features for all your data, they also provide many other benefits.

Features

Common features that are included in such systems today are:
  • Controlling the movement and storage of goods and materials in the warehouse.
  • Flexible location system to record data from different warehouses across locations.
  • Records of materials with defined 'From' and 'To' locations.
  • Records management with product dimensions and related information.
  • Integration with other devices to get live data.
  • Automated data collection.
  • Inventory management features such as systematic data storage and retrieval.
  • Order tracking.
All these features will help you track your materials and maintain an efficient record of your warehouse. This will result in a significant improvement in your warehouse operations, in the productivity of your employees, and of course, increase customer satisfaction. A good system will also prove to be a boon for your organization's supply chain management.

How to Purchase

If you look around, the market is abound with various warehouse management systems. So how does any organization go about deciding which software to purchase? Here is a quick guide:

Requirements Analysis
This is the first step for any organization when they need to decide whether to purchase any software solution. This analysis underscores the need for such a system, and then these requirements can be converted into must-have and good-to-have features.

Contact Vendors
The next step is to contact the vendors available in the market and ask for quotes. Go through their brochures and materials, and evaluate them based on:
  • Experience of the vendor-how long has he been around?
  • Cost benefits to your organization.
  • After-sales service offered.
  • Training facilities provided.
  • Cross platform compatibility.
  • Software integration capability with already existing tools in the organization.
  • Does it use data capture and identification technology such as bar code scanners?
  • How user-friendly are the screens?
  • Capacity of the system to handle data volumes.
  • How accessible is it-through the Internet especially?
  • Reports-the types available, and whether customized reports can be pulled out?
  • Technical support offered.
  • Can you see a demo?
  • Can you install a trial version before buying the full package?
Scheduling a Roll Out
Once you have figured out a vendor who can meet all your requirements, the next step is installing the trial version and testing it in real time, to see if it meets your needs. Once this has been demonstrated, you can go ahead and implement a phased roll out of the WMS.

Training
While the software is being installed in your company, begin providing training sessions to your staff so that they get ready to use it.

Measure its Performance
Measure the performance of the application after its installation to see if you have met the organizational goals effectively.

Thus, armed with an effective warehouse management system, you can increase the supply chain efficiencies and ensure that your products reach the consumer quicker and without defects.