A delivered, standardize, customizable WMS, or a bespoke one you develop yourself?
As more and more commerce becomes e-commerce, the question to ask is does your WMS fit the bill? If not, should you procure one from an external supplier? Or develop your own in-house. This article will hopefully provide you with the answer.
The impact of E-commerce is visible in almost every supply chain, which brings with it new challenges that need answering. These include:
- Different “rush moments” in the warehouse
- The need for an omnichannel approach
- Changing order characteristics
- Higher volume of returned goods
- More variety regarding carriers
- Higher need for better business information for end-customers
Getting the flexibility you need
Any best-of-breed WMS must be flexible enough to support different flows, and have the ability to manage these different flows in a different way. It should be able to handle warehouse automation and easily switch from RF scanning to Voice recognition. Additionally it should be easily integrated with external systems such as an ERP or TMS. There are 2 important issues to take into consideration:
- Any user should be able to adjust the WMS themselves; and
- It must be easy and take a short time to implement any required change
In-house development vs standard software
In-house developed solutions sound attractive. They’re flexible, involve no supplier costs and you end up with a system that has a total fit with all internal processes. But is such a solution within reach for all companies? And are the actual costs lower? If there is a certain scale this customization can be the right solution, but this is usually only the case for a few large companies. In the long run, standard software will usually work out more attractive.
“In-house development may work in the short term for particular companies if you are aware of the risks and costs”, says Roy Vergeldt, account manager at Consafe Logistics Benelux. “But with in-house developed software you need enough resources, and dedicated FTEs (Full Time Employee) to maintain and support the system. If someone is ill, will there be another employee available who has the same knowledge of the system?”
The Balance Sheet Consafe Logistics
The burden of support falls to in-house employees. Again, a company with economy of scale may have the resources to cover 24/7/365. For smaller companies, and even companies that prefer an outsourcing model, this solution is not feasible.
Another disadvantage of a tailor-made system is the risk of the platform becoming outdated. Where standard software suppliers upgrade their products and define roadmaps to ensure further developments, a company that opts for customization will have to finance its own development to keep systems up to date. Deciding not to renew on time can have major consequences for the whole operation.
Although an in-house system feels extremely flexible as it’s easy to make adjustments, it can also be its downfall. As lots of changes are made to systems over time, software gets “tagged on” to the system, making it more complex. And any new function still has to be developed and added.
Best choice: “best-of-breed WMS”
A best-of-breed, standard WMS has several advantages over an in-house developed WMS. It ensures continuity, offers great flexibility and less risk at a lower cost. It of course has to meet market requirements. Similarly, a professional supplier should give you access to a wide level of knowledge, have consultants and developers who are experts in Logistics and IT, operate in several countries and be able to guarantee efficiency and economies of scale.
Standard packages tick all the boxes
Issues seen as advantages of a customized WMS also apply to a standard package. Generally it’s easy to develop customer-specific functionalities and add them to a standard system. While your business may be unique, it’s a fairly good guess that a trusted supplier has developed something similar to other customers on more than one occasion, and therefore has the knowledge and expertise to turn around any bespoke development fairly quickly and cost-efficiently in close collaboration with the customer. The supplier is almost certainly able to offer maintenance and support, which tips the balance of a standard solution over that of in-house development in terms of continuity, flexibility, innovation and a low TCO.
Astro WMS – Best of the best?
Astro WMS is a proven system with users in all kinds of verticals, assuring professional and flexible warehouse management in modern warehouses. Customers who are heavily involved in E-commerce and have an omnichannel strategy experience how Astro WMS helps keep control and optimizes flows, equipment and manpower.
According to Roy Vergeldt, software houses such as Consafe Logistics have R&D departments that work on a day-to-day basis to keep an eye on innovation and stay up-to-date with market trends. They understand what requirements there will be in the future and make sure their products will meet them on time. “Consafe Logistics has the policy of releasing an upgrade twice a year. This prevents the system from becoming out of date,” says Roy.
In Astro WMS, many functionalities are available as standard, and are easily be enabled. Additionally, a company can make use of the best practices from users in other industries and verticals as well as their own to maximize productivity and efficiency in the warehouse.
Flows are usually easily configurable so that a sales channel can be quickly attached. Roy says, “In many custom packages it is more difficult to make these adjustments. The architecture of standard software prevents changes affecting the core of the software. With Astro WMS, everything is seamless, so adding new functions and features is done in no time and with hardly any adverse effects on the system.
Unless you have a skilled in-house software team and a policy of keeping all development within, then most arguments point to using a standardized solution like Astro WMS.
For more information about Astro WMS and how it can streamline your logistics processes contact firstname.lastname@example.org