When looking up the search term Best of Breed Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) on the internet two things struck me. Firstly, the results produced were a general comparison Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) WMS modules versus Best of Breed Warehouse Management Solutions.
Secondly, the results also produced a plethora of all things warehousing, anything from scanners to technology evaluations, not necessarily a list of Best of Breed WMS providers, the reason I underwent my search in the first place.
On top of this there was also an awful lot of blog. Wading through the results to find what I was searching for, I came to question what is best of breed?, and would this be the right approach to adopt for prospective customers and their business? Undertaking a general comparison of the two types of system,ERP or Best of Breed I concluded that each has its own pros and cons.
ERP WMS Module
Some ERP systems offer a Warehouse Management module as part of the overall function of the solution. Therefore to enable the Warehouse Management module, initial set up costs should be cheaper than a dedicated Best of Breed system. They also have lower total cost of ownership as maintenance costs are included in the ERP maintenance agreements. However the functionality tends to be limited to appeal to and control simpler operations.
Best of Breed WMS
A Best of Breed Warehouse Management System could be more expensive to implement as the purchase is for a dedicated standalone solution. However in comparison they have superior functionality to a modular version, they have a great deal more flexibility, can expand, grow and shrink to accommodate plans and seasonal adjustments.
The advent of Software as a Service (SaaS) Warehouse Management Systems (or Cloud WMS as it’s sometimes known) has made Best of Breed a more accessible and financially viable alternative to a modular Warehouse Solution, as the software and services are rented from the supplier, negating the need for any capital expenditure.
Key steps to selecting the best “Best of Breed” Warehouse Management System.
•The first stage of any selection process is to examine how you warehouse is currently operating.
•Decide what improvements need to be made.
•Produce a document or requirements specification.
•Clarify and hone your requirements.
•Prioritise the requirements into “must have”, “nice to have” and “ultimate wish” list, considering any growth plans.
•Send the finished document out to a handful of WMS providers.
•Match the desired requirements with the functionality of each of the software packages, once the requirements document returned by providers.
•Invite those companies whose WMS closet resembles what you are looking to achieve, based on their pedigree and genetic makeup of the software.
From the ensuing discussions with potential providers you should be able to whittle your list down to 2 or 3 providers, all of whom profess to have a best of breed WMS solution. Now the matching of the system to requirements begins in earnest.
•Examine the software – go on a site visit, have a demonstration.
•Examine the provider – does the provider have experience in your market sector?
•Does having a Best of Breed WMS mean that you will not have to change your processes to match the functionality of the intended system?
•Can the solution be flexible enough for your business?
•Will the system be able to accommodate your growth plans?
If the answer to any of the points here is no, then maybe your best option is to look for a system that has, in the main, most of the functionality requirements; and a provider who has the capabilities to tailor the systems’ functions to match the your warehouse processes.
Squaring the Circle
Based on our many years of experience as a Best of Breed Software supplier, we have found that no two customers are exactly alike, and that the term Best of Breed WMS means different things to different companies, and different WMS providers.
Invariably we tailor our Best of Breed WMS solution to suit our customers’ requirements and growth plans, providing customers with their own dedicated Warehouse Management System, that will expand or contract, whatever their needs may be, to suit their business for many years to come. Our proven track record of client retention, our flexible approach, and dedication as an innovative Software provider, enables us to supply the best solution for each individual customer specific requirements.
These facts lead me to question whether Best of Breed actually exists? Maybe the term should be “Best in Class”.
Author Linda Rodway
Market Development Manager