January 30, 2017
So your business is growing and you’re not sure that you can make it another year managing warehouse operations on your own? It is time to implement a warehouse execution system (WES), but how do you sort through all of the choices?
How do you choose the right software solution, and accompanying vendor, to solve your specific business challenges?
Start with the basics
A thorough understanding of your economic, technical and organizational needs is critical to successful implementation of a new software solution. Before choosing a new WES, you should evaluate your current systems and processes to ensure you will get the most out of the new technology. Defining the problems you expect the new system to solve and how this new solution will improve your current and future operations is key to narrowing down your options.
After you’ve outlined your needs, drafted a plan (including an expected timeline), and developed goals for your project, perform a budget analysis. Most companies consider a good investment to be one where ROI occurs within 1 to 5 years.
ROI from a WES can come in many forms, including labor savings and economic savings from inventory reduction. And don’t forget about the cost of annual software maintenance and support associated with your system.
Customer support is one of the most important, but frequently overlooked, considerations when acquiring a WES. For many years, buyers focused only on the software and not on the importance and value of the partnership with the vendor. Today, that customer service is a critical factor that sets companies apart.
To best understand the support model that a software provider offers, first look at the level of support and service they are willing to offer before, during, and after installation. Do they position themselves as a partner or are they just a fee-based service provider? And don’t forget about customer training.
A high-quality vendor should be willing to do hands-on training and work with your staff to understand the application and how it runs in your unique environment. “Above all, determine whether the vendor can get you want you want when you need it – or at least provide a credible timeline for receipt,” says Dave Williams, director of software and solution delivery, Westfalia Technologies.
“Honesty and integrity are two of the most important characteristics a vendor should possess in dealing with its customers.”
Customer support and service should always be a number one priority. As business processes change, your software should be able to adapt. Most vendors will offer one or two software updates a year; anything more than that could be indicative of an unstable product or an unreliable vendor.
A good support contract should cover any system needs that may arise throughout the contract term. By partnering with the right software vendor, one who takes the time to understand your specific needs, your WES will thrive and enhance business processes for many years to come.