Is your company growing too fast for your warehouse management system?

Posted by Steve Bayley 8 Jan, 2016

Four signs your business is growing too fast for your warehouse management system

It’s an easy mistake to make, but many companies - both 3PL and end user alike - fail to consider that business expansion often comes with serious growing pains. Warehouse management systems (WMS) which once supported integral processes can begin to struggle with each piece of new business won, while IT infrastructure continues to suffer the mounting pressure.

All too quickly, things can go from bad to worse - and the only thing you can do is to bring in an expensive IT consultant to try to temporarily give you some breathing space. Worried your business might be growing too fast for your WMS to keep up? Keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  1. Your current warehouse management is failing to meet your business needs

This seems pretty obvious, but it’s a key factor to consider. A legacy WMS may enforce rigid processes to follow, but what business isn’t constantly evolving?

New requirements and regulations can be imposed by government bodies, suppliers, partners and even customers. Naturally, if your business is expanding, the more of these external parties you will interact with and need to satisfy. 

A lack of functionality (and more importantly, adaptability) in your WMS therefore stands in the way of business growth. If you struggle to meet new industry regulations or customer demands, your business will lose out to competitors that can operate more effectively in an evolving market.

If you find yourself creating complicated modifications and custom coding on the fly to skirt around this issue, a word of warning – it’s a slippery and expensive slope. Your business must always comply with the latest legislation and industry expectations, and the less agile your WMS is, the more money it will take to meet these standards continuously.

  1. Your Warehouse Management System struggles to communicate with other applications

You can’t run departments in complete isolation, so it’s vital that various systems within your business can communicate with one another. Integration problems will reduce the ability of your WMS to share information with other business functions, such as your Transport Management System (TMS), electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), and other business systems.

An archaic or inadequate WMS may even force your business to maintain older versions of related infrastructure such as databases, operating systems and other software. As a result, a whole range of applications across the business could be slower and less reliable than they might otherwise be.

  1. Your users struggle to communicate with your Warehouse Management System

A WMS with high usability and intuitive navigation can be pleasing to both the eye and brain. However, the benefits can continue far beyond user satisfaction. Many legacy WMS have outdated user interfaces, which make them hard to understand and slow to use. Employees may struggle to access important information due to impractical reporting tools and dashboards, limiting their productivity.

Customers, suppliers, and partners may also find it difficult to interact with your system. As a result, they will less informed and more reliant on your staff to provide essential information.

  1. It costs too much to maintain your optimised Warehouse Management System

Sticking with your inflexible, legacy WMS may save you money in terms of a replacement, but as we mentioned in #1, ad hoc system upgrades in the future could very well end up costing you more money.

An aging WMS is always going to lose performance and functionality. Which will mean you’ll need to have a hefty budget simply to support the system, let alone improve it when needed—especially if the system has already undergone reactive configuration to meet your changing business needs.

It could be that the money you saved on replacing your WMS the last time you had the chance has already been used up in costly IT fixes and maintenance fees. And there will undoubtedly be more to come. So wouldn’t it be better to be prepared up front with an adaptable WMS to suit your ever-changing business?

Are you already familiar with these signs? Don’t let an outdated WMS get in the way of your success. Read our guide to discover how an adaptable WMS can support your growing business.

Topics: Warehouse management