Finding the right WMS to purchase, is a decision that has to be made with a lot of considerations.
Since your situation is unique, you know that it’s nearly impossible to find the right information to make sure that you are on the right track.
Which is why in this article, we share proven steps to buying the right WMS that any organization can use.
1. Assign your team
A good team is the key to the success of a WMS project. A good WMS project team should include a project manager who understand warehouse management and members from warehouse management department, IT department, logistics department, and other related departments. By including C level employees as well as ground-level workers in your team, you will be able to increase your success rate.
After creating the team, assigning roles for each member and planning the purchasing process and scheduling timelines should be done. A good communication plan can do wonders here ensuring you a smooth workflow.
2. Define your goals
Once you have your team for the project, you need to get clear about the goals for this new system and what are your expectations around it. The more specific you can get, easier the rest of your steps will be as you have a clear idea of what are your priorities, what are the must-have and what are your concerns.
Tigernix Experts recommend you to list down your goals and expectations after discussing with your team, so you always have something to refer back to throughout the process to make sure you are not falling off the tracks. Here it’s really important that you get the feedback of not only from the manager level staff but ground level workers too as they are the people who actually understand the real struggles.
This will also help you find What are the most valuable features of your warehouse management system(WMS)?
3. Do your Research
After you have your requirement cleared, the next step of your WMS purchase process should be to hit the market place and search for vendors.
Doing your research well is really important here.
If you are adopting a WMS system for the first time, you will need to look into to everything about warehouse management solutions, ask questions from people who use WMS and read every blog article you come across in the subject.
For your ease, here we’ve listed a few articles on WMS that will give you a good start.
We already know that you have a basic idea of what WMS stands for and know what it can do. But the idea here is to get a good idea about tech stuff involved and the logistics of adopting the system.
4. Prepare your list
Next step is to prepare your vendor list.
From simply searching google the term’ Good WMS vendors’ to asking around, there are many ways you can find potential WMS vendors. At this stage, your focus should be on finding vendors and collecting all their brochures and other marketing materials and learn about the vendor and their solutions.
5. Reach out to vendors
Get in touch with the sales system of each vendor and try to get as much information as possible. Before calling them, make sure that you are ready to give them a clear idea about your goals, expectations, planned budget and the scope of the project. Make sure you ask all the initial questions to get a good idea of their solution, it’s features as well as the buying and the service process so the salesperson can give you all the information.
Below are a few things you should ask during your initial conversation with the vendor’s sales team.
- System features
- System technology
- System deployment
- Supporting platforms
Also, learn about the vendor and the company itself. Ask about their company story, how they started, who they have worked with over the years, do they offer WMS consultation services and training services, and how’s their tech support and service process is like.
6. Study, analyze and narrow down
Now you have a list of WMS vendors.
So it’s time that you narrow down your list to find the best options for you. You can start by studying all the details about vendors and their systems.
Here are a few factors you need to take into account when analyzing your vendor list.
- System features
- System technology
- System deployment
- Supporting platforms
- System flexibility
- System scalability
After analyzing vendors, you can start to narrow down your list, as fewer the vendors you have on your list lesser the work there will be.
However, vendor elimination process should be done with caution to make sure you are not removing potential vendors.
Make sure you compare systems as well as vendors. Because no matter how good the system is if the vendor has a crappy aftersales support system, you don’t want to deal with that for the rest of the 5 or 10 years. Below are a few factors you can compare vendors against.
- WMS system
- Vendor reputation and experience
- Vendor experience in your industry
- Customer reviews
- Features and special services offered
- Subscription methods
- After sales support
Here 5-7 vendors is a good list to proceed with.
7. Send RFP (Request for proposal)
Next is to send RFP’s to your narrowed down vendor list.
The idea here is to identify the functional capabilities of each system and compare against the operational requirements of your organization. If you don’t have an idea of preparing a request for the proposal, you can always ask your vendors to send theirs, as usually, such companies have proposals already drafted for industry-wide use.
Once you receive the proposals you will be able to understand what the vendor can deliver and what they can’t which you can use to evaluate each vendor and their solutions.
Here it’s very important that you keep referring to the requirement list you’ve initially created to ensure that you are on track.
8. Try a Demo
No matter how much they can give you details over the phone or via emails, nothing can match the accurate impression you can get with a demo. Thus after reviewing the proposal, you should schedule a free demo with the vendor to see and feel the system in real life.
- Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for your demo.
- Make sure your vendor list is between 3 -5 at this stage so you don’t have to deal with system features getting mixed ups.
- Make sure place and time scheduled for the demo are free of distractions.
- Choose the right people for the demo team.
- Create a scoreboard to bring to all the demos the so the team won’t miss the important stuff.
- Ask questions and be involved with the vendor during the demo.
- spend thirty minutes to an hour discussing the system after the demo for a debrief.
9. Getting a quotation
After the demo, you can narrow down your vendor list again according to your score chart score.
Then it’s time to get a quotation from the vendor. Here what you will get is an initial quotation where you will be able to get an idea of all the costs involved in the process as a range, from high end to the low end.
With this initial quotation, the vendor will let you know the pricing calculated
- by location
- by user
- for vendor service price models (hourly rates, implementation timeframes, high and low ranges)
- Maintenance and ongoing services
- Hosting services
- Training services (if necessary)
Once you’ve received the initial quotation, you will be able to get an idea of a realistic budget that will be needed for the project. Here it’s important that you keep your budget realistic as well as affordable at the same time.
10. Understanding integration
Integration is a very important part you need to explore and understand with respect to each WMS.
Without smooth integration, you will end up in more operational complications thus this is a step you shouldn’t ignore.
Make sure you exchange API documentation with Non-Disclosure Agreements in place with vendors, to verify compatibility of the new system with the other systems in use. If you find out that you might need some modifications to make the system fully compatible with existing software, ask the vendor for the cost estimated for the changes.
11. Plan a warehouse tour
By inviting your vendors for a warehouse tour you will be able to give them a good idea of how your warehouse operates, how the processes are happening and more.
This will be a good opportunity for the vendor to understand what can be improved, what options suits your warehouse the best, what needs to be done to make sure their system and the warehouse operations fit smoothly. On the other hand, you will get the opportunity to show why your situation unique while sharing your specific requirements and why you need them.
Such a tour will immensely help the vendor to put together a custom solution for your warehouse so you can receive the best possible ROI.
12. View a personalized Demo
Usually, a personalized demo will be held in your warehouse premises and will last from a few hours to a whole day. This demo will be conducted for your entire team.
At this stage, you should expect your vendor to fully understand what makes your situation special and see solutions that catered to your requirements. Here the vendor will walk you through all the functional areas of the WMS solution helping you understand how their solution going to solve your current challenges.
During this demo, your main focus should be to validate the idea that the WMS system has the ability to mirror your existing operations.
13. More accurate quotation
Now is the time to get an accurate quotation for your WMS solution.
A good salesperson will be able to provide you with a very accurate quotation made for your requirements filling all the gaps and holes with estimated prices and timelines. Make sure you let know the vendor about all the necessary customizations required.
Once you receive the quotation make sure to go through it with the salesperson and get a good understand what is charged for what, what’s included in the quotation and what’s not so you can avoid confusions, miscommunications, and misunderstandings.
14. Catch the software in action
Ask your vendor for a reference so you can hear about the system from an actual user.
You can schedule a call with a customer of the vendor or visit their warehouse and see the system in action. During your conversation with the actual system's users make sure to ask a ton of questions like
- Their experience with the system and the vendor
- Their thought on the improvements on the vendor’s WMS
- How the WMS helps in cutting down costs
- Any struggles that experience
- The vendor’s response when an issue arose
15. Receive the contract
Since you’ve seen the system, learn about it and have felt it and received final budget now you can finalize the contract with confident. Below are a few things you should look for when you are reviewing your contract.
- License terms
- Payments terms
- Licensed machines or servers
- price escalator clause
- Severity levels, service level response times
- Maintenance and support terms
Make sure you get the best price from your vendors as your partnership will benefit them as much as it benefits you. So ask them for the best and final offer.
Once you receive the final offer, it’s time to select your winner. Here make sure to compare line to line with all the quotations so you will be able to get a clear idea of what they charge for and why.
17. Sign and purchase
Go one more time through the contract to make sure there are no red flags and sign the contract and get ready to plan the next phase of the project- WMS implementation.
During your WMS purchase project, being open with your vendor can do a world of difference in finding the right solution for your organization. A strong relationship with your vendor also places a very important factor that will define the success of your WMS solution.
Follow these steps so you can enjoy a hassle-free process throughout your WMS purchasing process.