The Amazon/Google business model has changed how organizations approach their warehousing and distribution operations. Many firms will try and copy this model only to fall short and create additional challenges. Small and midsize firms’ introduction into E-fulfillment does not have to include exorbitant amounts of time and money. The rise of boutique software solutions and best in class processes allow companies to quickly compete in this market.
The systemic opportunity afforded to small and midsize firms has grown significantly over the last few years. In the past, to “play with the big dogs” firms had to spend a significant amount of capital to ensure systems were in place to achieve best in class. Software firms enjoyed bundling their approach to ERP/MES systems and forced companies to pay for functionality that simply is not needed by smaller operations.
Thankfully, there are a handful of solution providers that allow smaller companies to enjoy customizable platforms that fall significantly below cash outlays for larger solution platforms (Oracle/SAP). If you are simply trying to provide visibility into your operations by capturing real-time transactional data, moves, and consumption, why deploy a full ERP?
Some software providers now allow separate standalone modules to satisfy basic needs at a fraction of the cost. This can dramatically change the opportunity for companies to quickly advance visibility into their operations. However, make sure your provider has the capability to add the necessary functionality that will allow them to grow with your business.
At a minimum, those looking to expand their E-Business should ensure their software providers offer:
- Inventory Control and Management
- Real-Time Transactional Capabilities
- Basic Picking Logic – locations / sequenced route
- Dispatch production, generate picklist
- Kitting – pick together in sequence before job delivery to production
- BOM Management and Revision Tracking
- Customized Reports
- Receiving and Shipping
- Comparing POs with received material
- Tracking discrepancies
- Process Execution Management – routings, work instructions, progress tracking
As you grow your business you should have a provider that can customize the offering to then include:
- Picking – Utilizing advanced routing logic
- Wave, zone, batch, etc.
- Warehouse Logistics
- Directed Put-away
- Zone logic for storage
- Lot Control – shelf life, expiration, etc.
- FIFO / FEFO
- Order Allocation and Order Management
- Labor Management
- Tool and Resource Management (TRM)
- Yard Management
A customizable MES/WMS offers the proper data collection to make informed decisions for optimizing your operations. Take the time to investigate a more “boutique” approach to a customizable system solution. This type of phased approach will get you in the game quickly and allow sustained growth for your business, without breaking the bank!