What is a warehouse management system?

What is a warehouse management system?

Fergal Glynn Last Updated: January 14th, 2019

For companies that deal with production, inventory and a staff-full of employees with diverse duties and skillsets, a comprehensive warehouse management system serves as the foundation for efficient operations. These days, there is a myriad of options to choose from that can be custom-fit to streamline operations of any business, no matter what sector they may occupy.

Definition of a warehouse management system What is a warehouse management system?

Warehouse management systems, otherwise known as WMS, are specialized software applications that support the daily comings and goings of warehouse operations. The software represents an interactive, centralized system that allows relevant users to update key metrics as they change, in real-time. This can include management tasks, picking protocols, safety regulations, audit registers and more.

How a warehouse management system works

For many companies, warehouse management systems are implemented to complement current warehouse procedures and protocols. Depending on the weak areas that you’re looking to shore up, there is warehouse management software that can be tailor-made to fit the needs of your growing business.

Here are some of the best strategic effects that can come out of applying a warehouse management system in your warehouse:

It streamlines your customer service procedures

One of the most common mistakes that managers and planners make is that they often fragment communications between the warehouse and the customer service department. This move usually ends up causing distractions and wasted time as messages have to sometimes filter through several departments or parties before they reach the right person.

With a warehouse management system that includes transparent customer service-related recording capabilities, though, both the warehouse and the customer service departments are able to track orders, fulfillment times, shipping procedures and customer feedback through the exact same system, in real-time. Naturally, this immediately cuts down on confusion, human-error and general time-sucks that occur when it comes to meeting the customer’s needs.

It provides accurate inventory counts and tracking

Have you ever participated in a warehouse audit that yielded disastrous count discrepancies? If so, then you know how important it is to keep an up-to-date, consistent register — all day, every day. Luckily, the latest warehouse management systems are built with accuracy in mind and often include features that allow workers to maintain the count frequency with just the press of a key or a scan of a barcode reader.

This system works well for processes such as order fulfillment, picking and receiving, as well. The warehouse management system tracks goods and inventory as they move around your warehouse, starting at the loading docks if needed. Taking advantage of this technology allows all workers to keep track of every component, whether it is being received, compiled or shipped.

It eliminates the need for regular inventory counts

Part of running an efficient warehouse means conducting regular counts to ensure that all inventory is where it needs to be and in the expected condition. Having said that, when warehouse management systems are installed, you can carry out this time-consuming task less often, without sacrificing accuracy or quality.

Depending on the size and complex nature of your warehouse, you might be able to completely trade in your weekly or monthly counts for periodic cycle counts that can be cross-checked against the system. This revelation is a serious game-changer as it frees up valuable time and costly labor budgets.

Benefits of using a warehouse management system Benefits of warehouse management systems

Clearly, warehouse management systems can do a lot for a business in terms of efficiency and accuracy, but many warehouses end up reaping rewards that they might have never saw coming. Here are just a few of them:

Generating automatic reports

Not all warehouse management systems offer this feature, but the best ones do. If your warehouse struggles with compliance, safety, or tricky fulfillment protocols, then it’s best that you apply a software system to your process that generates these beneficial reports as often as you need to access them.

Scalability to grow with your business

We all have big plans for our businesses, which means that warehouse management systems should always be considered a necessity — even if you aren’t taking advantage of every single one of its features at this very moment. Remember, when selecting one of these advanced software systems, make sure that you invest in one that will help your company thrive as your procedures shift.

Streamlining billing processes

A fitting warehouse management system can take the place of your outdated or sluggish billing system by acting as a communication tool, as well as generating invoices and sales with ease. Additionally, it can track values and orders, which helps to simplify accounting challenges, particularly during tax time.

No matter your size or budget, there is a warehouse management system out there to help your business save valuable time and money. Make the necessary comparisons with your current system and you will see that not having the right software can be holding you and your workers back from achieving your goals.

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