Best-of-breed OMS and WMS implementations: the value, challenges, and how to prepare

 

A Best-of-Breed (BoB) system is one which is the best in its reference niche or category. It performs specialized functions better than an integrated system. BoB systems often have distinct advantages of advanced features, quicker implementations, high returns on investment, flexibility, extensibility and other strengths.

Whether you have an existing order management system (OMS) suite and are looking for a best of breed warehouse management system (WMS), or have an OMS and are evaluating a WMS, this is a major decision, with long term implications for your business. In this article, I will explore the value to be captured as well as the challenges associated with this type of implementation.

 

Value Proposition:

A BoB WMS provider might have built a product that works exceptionally well for a retail apparel customer. Since the solution was tailor made for such industry the same WMS may create immense value for another apparel retailer. These niche-focused systems often meet the most critical needs of their customers with out-of-the box features.

On the other hand, a BoB OMS provider might have built a product that caters to the new age omni-channel focus. Such a solution will provide compelling value to customers that are going through an omni-channel transformation.

The BoB solution is selected over a product suite because depth of expertise in multiple specialties seldom resides with a single firm.  For example, a firm that offers a suite may specialize in WMS, but only recently began investing in an order management solution. The order management system in this case is not the core strength of the suite provider. When there is a high need for power, depth of functional capabilities, or speed from a particular system, Best-of-Breed solutions often prevail.

 

Challenges:

Whatever payback you estimate from your BoB implementation, you must take into account the challenges you will encounter implementing and integrating a WMS or OMS into your current systems architecture.

  • Selecting the Right System
  • Integration, and the inconsistent logic between sytems
  • Ugrade Cycles and alignment of long-term enterprise roadmap

How can you prepare?

We’ve established there are inherent challenges associated with a BoB implementation. To minimize risk, I’ve come up with the below focus areas to address the expected unknowns that will surface throughout this engagement.

1.      Software selection

Consider your business needs, technology limitations, and experience integrating and implementing specialized systems. Careful selection of a specialized system that leverages out-of-the-box features to meet your most critical technical and functional requirements can help mitigate risk.

2.      Design

Ensure the right people are positioned to kick off design. This can be in-house resources who are familiar with the incoming system, or consultants with deep subject matter expertise. The solution leaders should understand the full capability and limitations of the integrating systems. Break down each functional module and execute thorough requirement analysis. Document existing procedures and practices, and identify where improvement can be made. Leverage out-of-the-box functionality as much as possible.

3.      Testing

Make sure the design leads are involved with this process so all scenarios are accounted for. Focus on end-to-end testing, from placing orders in OMS all the way through WMS fulfillment. For your OMS focus, keep a close eye on returns and back-order management as well, since these are often two major points of vulnerability. Furthermore, exercise volume testing or ‘stress testing’ with your WMS as this is a good way to put a strain on your system, as well as its interfaces. You will identify conditions that result in a slow-down or even a crash of the system.

4.      Ramp up production

You’ve implemented your systems and have the green light to go live. Instead of jumping in with two feet and processing orders from the general public, start with a limited pool. An example of this may be processing orders from employees and their families. By ramping up, you will identify issues that can be resolved before taking on high volume.

5.      External help

Success of initiatives such as a BoB implementations depend on the people that are apart of such complex engagements. Deploying a functionally specialized application and integrating that with your existing systems architecture can be challenging if your team doesn’t have experience with the new, incoming system, or system-to-system (OMS-WMS) integration .

Often, bringing in external subject matter experts with extensive implementation experience can strengthen your team when undertaking large scale supply chain process and systems transformations. These experts can assist with quicker solution implementations, establish cookie cutter deployment models, and, above all, empower customers to be self-sufficient in the long run.

Check us out and realize your supply chain potential.