WMS evolves to meet today's challenging business requirements.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have been around for over a decade and are well-entrenched as the workhorses of the warehouse. However, industry experts say that the industry is in the midst of a new cycle that is seeing major changes occurring...


Use It...And The Savings Will Follow

"A lot of companies are moving away from legacy, customized solutions that were put in during the 1993 to 2000 era and we're seeing more packaged solutions," says Waukesha, WI-based Red Prairie Corp.'s Michael Farlekas, vice president of sales for the Americas.

The warehouse management systems of the past were 50 to 60 percent customized, this meant they were not only more complex, but also more expensive to deploy. Only the larger food companies-the Krafts of the world, could comfortably afford them.

"Today's solutions are three to five percent customized," notes Farlekas.

According to the experts, companies are looking for more flexibility and functionality, yet they don't want to tie up their IT department's resources in order to get it. Today's packaged warehouse management systems call for much less of a demand for IT resources.

"Our task is to eliminate modifications and get more into a vertical segment of code," says Bob Morgenroth, director of WMS solutions for Retalix USA Inc., Plano, TX. "In other words, we want to provide our customers with what they had in the old days, eliminate their modifications and custom library and continue to move forward from that perspective. The real challenge is to see if we can pare it down and deliver something of value to the smaller DCs.

"We've shown we can improve the things in our base software packages and make them more user-friendly and also increase productivity as far as managing the systems in general."

Part of making software more user-friendly involves the inclusion of layers of adaptability tools in the systems that will allow customers to make some changes to their business processes in the systems.

"It reduces their overall cost of ownership, because they're not reliant on us to come back and make changes to source code modifications every time there's a change in their business processes," explains Chad Collins, vice president of global strategy for HighJump Software, Eden Prairie, MN. -B.S.

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