Think about the future before you invest in a WMS

The development within WMS goes faster than ever. Competition between the various suppliers is tough and there are many good systems on the market. As a customer, there are many things to focus on in a procurement of WMS including the costs of future updates as well as standardization of customer-specific solutions. Businesses with e-commerce and omni-channel have great need for advanced and flexible WMS. A lot of companies are in process of investing in WMS to lower the costs of warehouse logistics

When you are in a project regarding buying and implementing a WMS it is easy you only look at what you need now and focus on your current flow. But remember, after you are finished with your implementation and everything is working fine. Outside your warehouse the development in warehouse logistics and WMS software is going on in an ever faster pace. Should you continue to have a competitive warehouse logistics then you need to develop the flow and for that you need your WMS up to date with the latest features.

WMS vendors handle upgrades in different ways. This is something you should look at when you buy the WMS. First, how often do they deliver new releases? Second, how complex is an upgrade? This is very important because it is not unusual an upgrade costs a fortune.

Be careful in the implementation project, avoid unique adaptations as much as you can. It costs money in the implementation but more important it often costs money in the future upgrade process too, because the WMS vendor use consultant hours to adapt the new release when you upgrade. This is something you should look at before you buy a WMS, it differs a lot from vendor to vendor how they handles upgrades.

I often meet colleagues who want to update their WMS but avoid it because of the huge costs it means adjusting the system with all the unique customization’s. Then you can’t use exciting new features that might increase the efficiency and quality of the warehouse flow. Even worse if you are a global company with many warehouses around the world with a WMS with individual customization’s in each warehouse. I have meet companies with problems like that. The upgrade costs in a case like this can be extremely expensive. Standardization is very important and if you have many warehouses you should have a WMS manager who is responsible for keeping the system with minimal customization’s as possible and standardize the processes in WMS over all the warehouses.

Some WMS vendors make customers individual customization’s a standard in the next release, then it is no problem and you don´t have to pay for it twice when you upgrade. Competition today is tough and it is important to utilize WMS to the maximum in order to be cost effective in the warehouse. It is therefore important to use an established WMS with a large user base, so you can exploit synergies when other customers’ new smart solutions become standard in the next WMS release. That is the reason you should look at the future upgrade costs when you are investing in a new WMS.

Roberth Karlsson


  1. None of the companies I have worked for have the same WMS. They belong to different sectors and the working methods they have to use to handle their products are different too.
    It is absolutely clear that a company with different sites and warehouses should work under the same WMS, but the WMS of a company is unique, as its owner. So, a WMS always needs customisation. Exceptions are WMS’s (???)implemented in “on the shelf” packages.

    1. It is important to look at how flexible WMS is in its basic version before purchasing the system. You have to think outside the box, often all the features and working methods you need exist in a established WMS but it may not look as you work today. If the work method already exists and is good, why should you customize to your unique way of working? It’s expensive to invent the wheel several times. It all depends on how big and experienced the WMS vendor is and how large customer base they have. It is not always worth choosing the cheapest alternative in long term. I have seen great and complex warehouses that have managed to keep the customization’s to a minimum in WMS.

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