Upgrading WMS? Or are you starting to wonder if you should replace it altogether?

The grass may be greener in your own (WMS) yard.

You have decided that you’ve outgrown your current WMS and you are weighing the benefits of upgrading to the newest version or replacing it altogether. You’re not alone and sometimes the answer isn’t very clear. A good place to start is asking yourself why you’re considering the switch. Is it due to:

  • Functionality?
  • Cost?
  • Expensive modification maintenance?
  • Vendor relationship?
  • Implementing other new software and evaluating your current WMS?

Whatever your reason, consider what you like best as well as what your challenges are with your current WMS provider. When searching for a new solution, many people focus too heavily on the software and not enough on the relationship to be built with its provider. That relationship is vital to your success.

The three most important things to look for in your WMS provider are:

  • Relationship – can you do this together and will you have each other’s backs?
  • Technology – does it meet your current and future functional needs?
  • Vision – do they understand your company’s goals and how the technology plays a role?

Depending on your answers to these questions, the grass may be greener in your own yard. Below are 11 reasons you might be better off staying with your current software and solution provider.

You Understand How Your WMS Thinks

You have built processes to the functionality in your current system and many of those may stay the same with an upgraded WMS. Keeping your current WMS and upgrading may mean less process re-engineering and an easier transition for your employees.

The WMS is Accepted by Users

By nature, people are reluctant to change. Relearning a new solution, finding new super users and training staff will take longer than you expect and you will likely meet resistance.

You’ve Built Provider Relationships

From support desk staff, to project leads, sales, implementation teams and operations, you and your staff have multiple relationships at your current provider. You know who to call when you are facing a challenge, a new opportunity or need an issue escalated. The true value of these relationships is often undervalued until you no longer have these resources at your fingertips.

The WMS is Integrated with Other Systems

Integrations are usually very portable when you are upgrading WMS with your existing provider. You can often re-use integrations in an upgrade situation because the architecture has been built by the same company, which saves time, money and gotchas in the implementation process.

You Won’t Need to Replace Hardware Devices and Terminals

It is likely that you will be able to continue to use your existing equipment or trade up with the hardware vendor to a newer version.

You’ll Experience Quicker User Adaptation and Training

In an upgrade, very often the interface with RF terminals is similar and requires almost no retraining. Training time during upgrades is significantly less than with a new solution.

Your Vendor Evolved

Perhaps you had bumps in the road with your first WMS implementation. You learned along the way and so did your vendor. Before terminating the relationship, ask yourself, does their new mission and goals match yours?

It’s Less Taxing for IT

Upgrading your current system requires less retraining and retooling.

Scope, Time Frame, Performance and Cost Predictability

Since your current provider already knows your facility and your processes, they will be better equipped to outline the scope of your new solution.

You Can Continue to Work with Your Current Solution Provider Ecosystem

These are often vital relationships that you have cultivated over time. Changing vendors will cause a knock-on effect of all other partners you may have to change. These partners include: consulting, managed services and hardware. Most vendors don’t do everything on their own and rely on partners for many aspects of the solution and implementation. You’re not just changing the software vendor, you will have a bunch of new in-laws to deal with.

Smoother Data Migration

Complete data migration can be almost impossible when you switch vendors because there is often a technology mismatch or unwillingness to help migrate data. This can result in a lot of manual input during cut over.

Weighing Risk Versus Benefit

Ultimately, ask yourself if the potential benefit outweighs the risk of the unknown. If you upgrade WMS with your current vendor, you already understand how that WMS thinks and works and have processes built around their architecture.

As a consultant who has been developing and implementing WMS solutions for over 20 years, I can tell you that an upgrade is much smoother than a “rip and replace” where you install a completely new WMS solution. That said, there are still good reasons to change vendors. For example, if the current or future technology is a better match for your business and vision. Go in with your eyes open and with an eagerness to be a good partner. After all, 50% of the success of the relationship with your WMS provider is on you.

Whoever you choose as your WMS provider, make a commitment. Build relationships at multiple levels with your provider. Go to user conferences and become an active member of solution advisory boards and special interest groups. Make sure someone from your company is active in the on-line portals offered by software vendors to connect with and learn from other users of the software.

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