Most warehouses – not only in the U.S., but around the world – are now at least considering the benefits of switching to the latest warehouse management systems as a means of boosting their operational efficiency. However, those making the leap from a legacy platform to a modern system may need to look not only at all the options available, but what specific issues they want to address with such an upgrade. In this regard, the ability to make the most informed choice possible starts with a lot of homework.

There are many issues that may restrain a logistics company from truly understanding all the comings and goings that tie into warehouse efficiency, according to Hanna Kim of Solver, a NAVUG Partner Member, writing for NAVUG Magazine. However, one of the most common is a disparate, patchwork approach to warehouse data collection and assessment. It's understandable that, as software options evolved, companies started applying more on top of each other, but every once in a while it's probably wise to get a clean start with new WMS that collects all that data and makes it more usable.

What else can hold companies back?
Another issue that many warehouses have encountered in data collection over the past several years is that their systems aren't as user-friendly as they could be – partly due to that aforementioned patchwork approach, and partly due to how legacy systems account for remote users. Moreover, because these systems are typically only as good as the quality of data they collect in the first place, it might be wise for decision-makers to assess how happy they are with the in-flowing information, and what inefficiencies they've chosen to live with in this regard, as a means of determining the best step forward.

The next generation
Another issue some warehouses face, especially as they hire a larger number of younger people seeking jobs in the logistics field, is that it's not always easy to assess how effectively workers are getting their jobs done, according to Manhattan Associates. To that end, the ability to get a bird's eye view of how efficiently every employee gets their work done is critical to informing the best possible decisions. Fortunately, more platforms to not only collect this data, but also use it to automatically provide feedback and encouragement to those workers are now emerging, and could serve to boost productivity in short order when combined with modern WMS.

Given the rate of adoption among warehousing firms already, the ability to go through the examination phase of upgrading as quickly and thoroughly as possible is key. That's only likely to become more important as time goes on, because according to the latest data from Orbis Research, global WMS investment is poised to take off. As e-commerce becomes more important worldwide, more businesses will look for the best possible ways to boost efficiency, and those that can't hit the ground running may fall behind their competitors.