How to Tell When Your WMS Upgrade Has Become a New Implementation & How to Avoid It
Maintaining an in-house WMS is a challenge. Simple maintenance and upgrade costs can easily number into the thousands of dollars, and companies that invested in an outsourced WMS even five years ago face uncertainty. Amazon, Walmart, Target and other major competitors are developing newer, more robust WMS functionalities and capabilities that will render the competitive advantage of existing WMS solutions ineffective, as explained by Chris Barnes, Solutions Consultant for Accellos. At the same time, businesses that seek to complete a WMS upgrade to stay competitive could fall victim to a fly trap in the upgrade, spending more time and money than anticipated. As a result, the WMS upgrade becomes a new WMS implementation, and recognizing when this occurs is essential to managing spend and preventing scope creep.
More Companies Are Looking for the Perfect WMS Upgrade
The age of the WMS has created a perfect storm for a company seeking to leverage an omnipotent system. From selection through WMS implementation, warehouse managers are faced with countless decisions in the promise of increased efficiency and productivity. According to Supply Chain 24/7, businesses fall victim to one of three myths in selecting parts of their WMS to upgrade, including:
- The Legacy Myth, requiring all companies to upgrade existing systems.
- The Integration Myth, requiring extreme customization and integration of technologies to take advantage of mobile applications.
- The All-In-One Myth, aiming to provide all benefits of best-of-breed WMS at a lower cost through cloud-based solutions and one-size-fits-all add-on without the need for integration or customization.
These myths, particularly the latter, leave some warehouse managers to conduct such extensive WMS upgrades that the upgrade becomes a new WMS implementation in and of itself.
Why the WMS Upgrade May Become a New Implementation
The chances are good that your plans for presenting a WMS as the end-all solution to your organization’s problems will fail if you make promises that cannot be kept. This may be the result of poor planning, lack of visibility in the current company costs, and other issues. Setting unrealistic expectations and failure to disclose true savings through tangible and intangible benefits will result in lower shareholder support. Instead of risking losses, warehouse managers may be tempted to promise much more than they expect. This will have the result of requiring more modifications and investment into the upgrade, which will push plans further toward a new implementation.
Ways to Ensure Your Upgrade Doesn’t Become a New Implementation
Creating a winning business case for a WMS can be broken into 13 key sections, and warehouse managers can further refine the processes by following a few tips:
- Benchmark existing WMS to understand performance.
- Set clear, realistic expectations for upgrade benefits versus costs.
- Ensure accuracy in ROI calculations, especially those involving modifications.
- Reduce the number of modifications made to the system.
- Consider ongoing maintenance costs in making modifications and upgrades, as explained by Mike O’Brien of Multichannel Merchant.
- Recognize the limitations of your WMS before and after the upgrade.
- Let a third-party handle the upgrade process, including providing support in building the business case for a WMS upgrade.
Mitigate Risk During a New WMS Upgrade and Reduce Frequency of New Implementations Now
Warehouse managers will always have a role in understanding and managing a WMS upgrade, but failure to recognize the potential risk in completing an upgrade will result in the gradual transition of the upgrade into a new implementation. New implementations are costly and time- intensive endeavors and could result in severe disruptions to your operation. By recognizing the signs, warehouse managers can mitigate risk and ensure an upgrade is all that is necessary. Of course, working with a third-party integrator is an effective way to reduce the risk of your upgrade becoming a new implementation.
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