What can warehouse management software do that a spreadsheet can't?

Posted by Steve Bayley 20 Jan, 2016

What can warehouse management software do that a spreadsheet can't?

Many manufacturers, distributors and retailers operate their warehouses using Microsoft Excel. In many cases they might think this is sufficient. However, in reality it’s hampering their productivity and severely limiting their ability to grow in the future. Just one new client and the entire system could come tumbling down.

The best Warehouse Management Software (WMS) not only makes operations far more efficient, but it can help to futureproof your business and give you the confidence to take on new work. Here’s how a WMS can serve you better than spreadsheets alone.

Warehouse management systems save time and effort

Spreadsheets require manual data input. This takes precious time from your employees which could be better spent on other activities, limiting your business efficiency and effectively wasting wages.

Similarly, data output from a spreadsheet relies on a member of staff emailing data to all relevant parties. It’s likely this individual has many other things to do with their day, and any delayed or forgotten emails could prevent others from having accurate data to hand.

In contrast to this, a WMS manages real time data through a range of automated inputs and outputs. Scheduled email alerts can share immediate notifications, for instance when an order has been shipped. Clients can even be given direct access to an online portal where they can independently input orders, track their progress and generate reports, reducing customer service demands.

Warehouse management software cuts opportunity for error

Manual data handling also introduces a risk of human error. Data entry can be dull and repetitive, and it can be difficult to check for typos in a sea of figures on a spreadsheet. So, it’s not surprising that around 15% of inventory losses happen due to administrative errors. What’s worse, Excel lacks the functionality to highlight data input errors, so small mistakes can quietly grow into big disasters as spreadsheet formulas become progressively skewed.

With a WMS in place, your staff no longer need to handle repetitive data input tasks, leaving them with more time to perform other tasks and support your customers. A WMS also contains workflow and validation processes which prevent data input errors at the source. For instance, required fields flag any incomplete data and can prevent entries from being saved.

Warehouse management systems can keep everyone updated

Warehouse inventory can change by the minute, making it nearly impossible to manage using manual data entry. This time-consuming task often takes place whenever an employee has time to spare, and may be postponed or forgotten entirely if something urgent pops up. In the meantime, your spreadsheet records are increasingly out of date.

Making decisions based on incorrect information is too risky for business finances and reputation. Without an accurate inventory, it’s impossible to run a warehouse in an efficient manner. If you share this data with customers or suppliers, it could potentially cause a ripple effect, throwing multiple companies into confusion and damaging your business relationships.

On the other hand, a WMS always has accurate data thanks to automation processes. Information is collected on a continual basis whenever orders are processed at certain points in the warehouse. Customers can also access relevant real-time information via an online portal, rather than relying on your employees to provide it.

Warehouse management software plays well with other systems

Excel only has limited capabilities for importing and exporting data to and from other applications. This makes it difficult to automate warehouse processes and manage your business efficiently.

However, a good WMS should offer possibilities for integration. For example, your ERP system could enable your WMS to gather details directly from your customer database. Most importantly, specific warehouse hardware such as RFID readers, barcode scanners and voice picking systems can help to sort orders quickly and efficiently by automating key processes.

Optimise warehouse management software to enjoy the biggest rewards

CALIDUS Warehouse Management Software is specially built to optimise capacity, improve operating efficiency and ensure a truly streamlined supply chain. It’s also designed for rapid implementation, whether it’s installed as an on premise solution or implemented as a managed service - so you don’t have to wait to enjoy the benefits.

Topics: Warehouse management