Often times, ERP projects, such as implementing NetSuite or Acumatica to manage financials, inventory, and operations, often have a WMS (Warehouse Management System) aspect, in which an integrated or 3rd party software platforms allows end users to facilitate transactions within the warehouse, such as receiving inventory into warehouse locations (bins), moving inventory within the warehouse, building inventory from other inventory components, or shipping inventory outside of the four walls of the warehouse.
1. Integrated vs 3rd Party
Modern ERP software vendors such as Acumatica and NetSuite both offer integrated WMS functions as a separate software module completely integrated into their core solution offerings. These systems typically offer basics WMS functionality over core ERP functions, such as wave picking, which allows a picker to grab items for multiple orders in a single “wave’ instead of picking order by order.
While integrated WMS systems from the ERP vendor do a good job at base functions, for more complex functions a 3rd party solution will get a customer more bang for the buck. Third party WMS systems do a good job integrating with external peripherals, such as warehouse grade handheld scanners (as opposed to phone apps for the integrated solutions), scales, and label printers.
2. WMS as a Form Factor
When considering a WMS product, its important to remember that WMS is a form factor on top of the ERP solution, or, more bluntly, an easier way to enter information about inventory transactions into the ERP without having to navigate through the ERP system to get to particular records. For example, handheld scanners, and thermal laser printers, hooked into WMS, allow for ease of use when scanning products or printing labels to affix to products for end users within the warehouse.
3. WMS Replaces ERP Bins
Modern ERP systems include bin functionality, which allow users to assign warehouse locations to a particular item, and track quantities of that item within bins as it moves through the warehouse. In more complex WMS projects, this functionality is removed from ERP and lives solely in WMS.. WMS and ERP then track inventory independently, and a reconciliation occurs between systems to settle up any discrepancies (which really should not exist).
In conclusion, its important to keep a few things in mind when evaluating a WMS system to work with your ERP. The key thing to keep in mind is the relationship between the two systems.. is the WMS integrated, built on top of, or a separate system from the ERP, and based upon this, how do the systems interact to keep office and warehouse workers aware of all transaction activity occurring in the warehouse. Need help evaluating a WMS system? Schedule a free consultation to talk to our experts today.