Many warehouses and manufacturing facilities are finally eschewing the legacy management software they have been using for more than a decade. They do so with the knowledge that updating to modern warehouse management systems gives them a lot more control over a wider variety of issues on the shop floor. That also comes with something of an initial challenge as they calibrate the new platforms to their unique needs. The benefits of doing so, however, can be massive once they get out of that process.

Taking that big first step is important these days simply because of the way demand for shipping has changed rapidly in the past few years, according to Chris Anton, executive vice president of business development at Snapfulfil and contributor to Materials Management and Distribution.

Addressing the issue
WMS can help make a difference by quickly giving executives the tools to inform the best possible decisions that take even a slightly disorganized handling and shipping process and correct the inefficiencies they face, Anton noted. These systems are especially powerful now because of the ways in which the Internet of Things and mobile technology have combined to give decision-makers a top-down view of all of their operations in real time.

For this reason, when making a decision on WMS, executives must identify their weaknesses beforehand and determine which systems will help address them most directly. The easier it is to train workers on new platforms, the quicker the transition to more effective production, shipping and handling processes will be.

Getting a good return
The other extremely important aspect of selecting the right WMS is weighing the cost of a new system against how quickly the business can expect to see a return on that initial investment, according to Scott Beaman​, director of product development of voice solutions at Computer Task Group and contributor to Manufacturing Business and Technology Magazine. The whole point of switching is to save time and money in the long run, and the faster that begins, the better off companies will be both in terms of working efficiently and improving their bottom lines.

There are so many WMS options available to executives these days, therefore it's also vital to consider whether companies' needs are somewhat standard, complex or unique, Beaman wrote. That's why it's still so important to figure out not only which long-standing issues will have to be addressed most directly, but also the best ways to pay for it and get a return on that investment.

While there are many businesses in the industry now taking that step, the trend will pick up steam in the years to come, according to new data from Grand View Research. The global market for IoT-enabled devices in warehouse management is expected to grow to more than $19 billion by 2025, especially because warehouses and manufacturers will be on the lookout for ways to improve their inventory management. This is also true of sensing devices that make inventory easier to see in real time.

With all this in mind, it's vital for executives who are still on the fence about transitioning modern WMS to make a decision as quickly as possible. Quicker decisions will be to improve their operations and help them get ahead of their competitors. That will provide a quicker return on their investment and help gain a foothold in the changing marketplace.