WHAT IS A WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (WMS)?
An application or package of applications designed to manage corporate warehousing processes and procedures. A warehouse management system or WMS could be used to manage inventory, fulfill order processing, manage the logistics processes, etc.
Types of Warehouse management systems
There are 4 main types of WMS’s, standalone systems, supply chain modules, ERP modules, and cloud-based systems. Each one offers unique benefits from flexibility and customization to live time data sharing capabilities.
Standalone WMS’s are the industry leaders because they typically provide much more flexibility and customization capabilities to match the specific needs of the client. Some examples of the industry’s top Standalone WMS’s include JDA Blue Yonder WMS (previously RedPrairie), Manhattan WMS (including WMi, for iSeries, and WMOS, open systems), and High Jump (recently bought by Korber) WMS. These systems are made to easily integrate with any ERP the company chooses to use.
Supply Chain Modules
A supply chain module provides a business with a full range of inventory management, the ability to manage supply chain fulfillment operations either from the distribution center/warehouse to the retail store, direct-to-consumer, or to a manufacturing facility depending on the business requirements. WMS solutions can provide logistics services, third-party software integrations, as well as forecasting and reporting tools.
The main difference between WMS and ERP is that a WMS offers optimization of inventory on the basis of real-time information. A standalone WMS can be integrated into an ERP, or a large-scale ERP package could include its own WMS modules. Some examples of ERPs that have their own WMS solution include Oracle EBS, NetSuite Cloud ERP, JD Edwards, SAP ERP, Infor LN (Baan), Infor LX (MAPICS), etc.
A cloud-based WMS would be a system that stores its data in the cloud as opposed to an on-premises database for each specific location. Cloud-based WMS’s give you the advantage of having multiple warehousing locations working on one system and provide the ease of sharing data in live time. The top cloud-based WMS on the market currently is Oracle NetSuite’s Cloud-based ERP which provides a total ERP package based in the cloud including Warehouse Management modules. Competitors are all making cloud-based applications and upgrades, however. For example, SAP has recently released their S4/HANA version, which is the first cloud-based product they have released for their WM applications.
Common types of Warehouse management systems careers
WMS Business Analyst
The WMS Specialist handles the WMS information management, storage and analysis of information through computer networks, systems, and computer databases. A WMS specialist provides general maintenance and system updates on WMS software, analyzes problems, and monitors networks to ensure their availability to users.
WMS Implementation Manager
Responsible for implementing warehouse management systems and processes within the company distribution centers. Interact with Operations, IS and IT teams supporting the definition and delivery of business solutions for new or existing clients based on defined business processes and functional requirements.
WMS Super User
A WMS Super User is a person who demonstrates a thorough understanding of how a WMS is being used in a facility (or facilities) and understands the unique situations which may come up where a typical user might need help.