Picking Inventory Management Software That Won’t Get You Fired

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Supply chain management executives are beating the odds and getting promoted by selecting the right WMS—here's how they did it.

Many executives end up chained to their desks managing a WMS for years because extensive customizations require their constant attention

When MFI Furniture’s inventory software system mistakenly had them making three deliveries per order, the resultant higher transportation costs and triple-picking workload forced the supply chain management out the door. British grocery retailer Sainsbury had the same experience when its $700 million warehouse management software (WMS) project flopped and the entire supply chain team subsequently joined the ranks of the unemployed. Yet, not all WMS implementations have to end with firings and demotions. Instead, knowing how to pick the right http: inventory management software can help point the way to a corner office.

“People considering inventory software should start by paying attention to the fate of those who previously selected and implemented the system,” says Ann Price, CEO of Motek, a Beverly Hills, California-based company that developed the Priya Warehouse Management System. “Demand a vendor that can provide the names and contact information of several executives promoted for WMS implementations.”

For example, corporate heroes who have implemented the Priya inventory management software include David Trenkenshoe, who landed a plant manager position after managing a WMS project at SSI, the central distribution center for Raley’s and Savemart; and Jan Gage, who’s decision to automate the distribution facility for Sunclipse, a publicly held Australian paper company, earned her a spot on the board of directors.

After verifying that the WMS in question can propel logistics managers into higher ranks, Price recommends confirmation of a customer base that is using the current version or latest release. If you cannot find three reference sites on the same release running the same code, it is a sure sign that the vendor does not have a real product.

Another characteristic of quality warehouse management software is a customer-configurable product, as opposed to a vendor-customized creation.

“Many executives end up chained to their desks managing a WMS for years because extensive customizations require their constant attention” says Dennis Waliczek, Vice President of Information Technology for USF Logistics, whose first task at USF was to replace the heavily customized WMS installed by his predecessor. In it's place,

Waliczek chose the Priya warehouse management software, partly because it was the first radio-frequency-enabled warehouse management system based on Windows NT (R) and Windows 2000.

It also is best to identify a "deep" inventory management software system that focuses on supply chain management. All WMS functions should be included in “in the box.” An example of deep functionality within the Priya system is its seamless interface with all major RF mobile computers and input devices like bar code scanners and voice recognition products.

Lastly, consider implementation. A simplified approach works best; one that can be reproduced at additional sites without the vendor. Motek, for one, offers a standardized implementation methodology, called Tycan (R), which provides a roadmap which guides the project step-by-step.

“We subsequently configured, tested and went live in our facilities without any onsite vendor help,” said Nelson Longenecker -- Vice President of Organizational Development of Four Seasons Produce in Ephrata, Pennsylvania -- referring to his company's implementation of the Priya inventory management software. It is the only fully-featured, Microsoft Windows(R)-based WMS solution currently available that can support more than 300 concurrent mobile users.

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Amanda Solari
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