WMS: What's Changing, Who's in Charge?
Posted: Jul 06, 2012 by Dan Rowe | 0 comments
I was following my Tweets, news feeds, email alerts, etc. when I came across two very interesting articles recently, both addressing Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and I thought I’d run them past you to see what you think.
“The Evolution of the Warehouse Management System”, by Luciano Cunha, Microsoft Dynamics ISV Global Industry Director whose domain of expertise includes manufacturing, discusses how today’s automated business systems allow “more efficient use of resources with your WMS managing the order management process.” ERP systems for food distribution companies are an excellent example of this efficiency from automation, since they let you achieve, among other objectives:
Management of multiple sales order processes, including spot orders, shadow orders, EDI and more.
Integration to self-service customer portals, shopping cart apps, and Direct Store Delivery (DSD).
As well, Microsoft Dynamics’ Luciano Cunha says today’s warehouse management systems encompass production efficiency, which he describes as “reduced costs, more insights into inventory, increased accuracy and, of course, more revenues.” Food distributors need full inventory management, including visibility of all locations and bin level management.
Struggle Between IT and Operations over WMS
The other article about WMS I found on Twitter the same day was of a more provocative nature. Mark Fralick, contributor at Supply Chain Digest, wrote about the (largely unspoken) struggle between Operations and IT over their company’s WMS. He states (self-admittedly, bluntly) that IT “too often stands in the way of operational improvement” in the distribution center, and that “Operations should set the direction of the system.”
The comments left at the end of Fralick’s article are the best part for me – an interesting reflection of the perspective shifting depending on where in the company you sit.
One CEO writes: “The story stretches across all of your employees, vendors and customers and their enterprise systems, regardless of age. These include ERP, MRP, WMS, DSD, FS, etc. All of them control the ‘processes’ that Mark correctly states “the closer you are to the real moving parts of the organization (like a distribution center), the more flexible you have to be, as a solution provider, to make your solution fit the operation.”
Another commenter, a VP of Distribution, writes that “IT, HR, IC, Engineering, Maintenance are support functions. .. Operations is what makes it happen on a regular basis.”
A guy who identifies himself as IT writes: “The tensions come from... operations managers oblivious to the limitations of IT resources… I will agree that this relationship is both better and more productive when IT managers get on the DC floor regularly. This can be when IT is central and the DCs are distributed across the country.”
What do YOU think? Whether you work in IT or operations, who do you think is ultimately responsible for the direction your warehouse management system goes? I really want to know; leave your comments below!
Dan Rowe steers the product direction at JustFoodERP, ensuring that our development teams are working on relevant functionality for a broad range of customers. He was the very first implementation hire at JustFoodERP, with experience working on 30+ customer projects. Dan can be reached at email@example.com
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