Expert Insight: Guest Contribution

By Chandradeep Bandyopadhyay,
Principal Consultant


Date: November 30, 2009

2-Part Expert Insight Series on Warehouse Management: Part 2, A Super Warehouse Management System


Six Essential WMS Super Powers to Increase Efficiency

The last time, we talked about some business value-linked measures that lead warehouses from an ‘I am a cost sink’ mindset to an ‘I drive revenue’ position. This post talks about the levers that enable warehouses to improve their performance along these measures. Quite a few of these levers are systemic and are related to the warehouse’s ability to manipulate information. To ensure this and increase efficiencies, what a warehouse really needs is a super Warehouse Management System (WMS) with super powers. (Mind you, not all of these powers are that “super” – they should be part and parcel of any self-respecting WMS out there). So what are these super powers?

The power to see into the future


The warehouse needs visibility into incoming inventory and outgoing orders as far ahead as possible. The accuracy of this data allows the warehouse to staff and manage its costs in alignment with actual needs. Accurate Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) mean that warehouse operatives can scan containers into inventory without wasting time breaking pallets and opening cases. The WMS must:

  • Enable the matching of future inventory and demand;
  • Have the ability to segment inventory for specific purposes; and
  • Be able to tag inventory using multiple identifiers.

The power to see into the past


The warehouse needs to be able to log every significant event and activity. Recently, I asked a WMS engineer for orders that were backordered from the WMS at waving, and the orders that were backordered due to short picks. Astonishingly, the WMS could not give me the necessary details. If I cannot even find out what the root cause of a backorder is, how can I figure out a solution?

The power to be in the moment (reach out in real time)


Warehouses are the inventory masters in all organizations. Hence, the WMS must be able to post inventory updates in real time. The moment a carton is marked as shipped, an immediate update must reach the order management system. The moment a cycle counter detects a variance and the bin is put on quality hold, messages need to flow out to order selling systems and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This directly impacts the business’ ability to service its customers. Today’s companies can no longer get away by focusing on customers alone. They also need to focus on individuals, one at a time. The customer as a collective never really existed, and is rendered even more meaningless today when individuals/customers might tweet an order in and expect ship confirmation to go to their social accounts/wireless phones. Hence, the ability of the warehouse to get information out in real time is a hygiene factor.

The power of many


The WMS must be able to host:

  • Multiple warehouses on the same solution;
  • Multiple versions of the WMS on the same instance; and
  • Various business rules by merchandise classification and so on.

The same solution needs to be flexible, acting differently for different needs.

The power of one


The WMS should be able to report macro trends, and allow optimization at a macro level. For instance, it must be able to collate information by inventory type, business division, item characteristics, and be able to gauge trends based on that.

The power to take on multiple forms


It needs to be able to function across multiple sites that are different in layout and operations. The same WMS should be able to function cohesively in a small storeroom and in a large multi-million square feet facility. The same WMS should be usable across different kinds of warehousing operations like manufacturing warehouse, distribution center, shipping hub, etc.

All WMS vendors need to ensure that their package offers these super powers to their end users to help increase efficiencies and positively impact the bottom line. Only then can warehouses transit from being mere operations to becoming revenue influencers.

Agree or disgree with with our guest contributor's perspective? What would you add? Let us know your thoughts for publication in the SCDigest newsletter Feedback section, and on the website. Upon request, comments will be posted with the respondent's name or company withheld.

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About the Author


Chandradeep Bandyopadhyay is a Principal Consultant at the Supply Chain Management practice of Infosys.

Chandradeep has led multiple implementation teams in the areas of direct-to-customer retail order management, inventory management and warehouse management. He has deep understanding of Sterling SCM packages, their project implementation lifecycle and program execution. He shares his thoughts on supply chain management at:


Bandyopadhyay Says:

The WMS must be able to post inventory updates in real time.

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