Cloud-based technologies are among the latest innovations impacting supply chain and warehouse management. The concept of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform allows users to tap into the enterprise-level software at a fraction of the cost of developing and maintaining systems in-house, reports Chad Collins of Supply and Demand Chain Executive. One of the potential applications of cloud-based technologies includes the use of a WMS in the cloud. However, choosing to use a WMS in the cloud comes with several benefits and drawbacks. Warehouse managers need to understand the present cons of using such a system to make an informed decision and keep warehouse spend in check.
Benefits of Using WMS in the Cloud
The benefits of using a WMS in the cloud are extensive and almost limitless. As explained by Tech Target, understanding the benefits of using a WMS in the cloud means rethinking everything you know about in-house WMS use and functions. Some of the chief benefits of using a WMS in the cloud include:
- “Out-of-the-box” functionality, like that, offered through HighJump. Ability to manage both inbound and outbound freight, as well as the use of innovative freight management strategies, such as cross docking.
- Ongoing inventory management, allowing warehouse managers to gain immediate end to end visibility into inventory, locate inventory, and reduce inefficiencies in picking and packaging processes.
- Use of load optimization for shipments, shipping, and managing reverse logistics.
- Compatibility with other supply chain systems, including the yard management system, transportation management system, slotting management system, business analytics, and more.
- Around the clock, advanced support to users.
- The ability to access the system from any location with Internet access through web-based portals.
- Elimination of cybersecurity risks within a given facility by placing the burden of managing cybersecurity on a third-party.
It is almost impossible to name all the benefits of a WMS in the cloud, but this much is clear: Warehouse managers must start considering the use of WMS in the cloud for all operations and future upgrades. As more companies take advantage of SaaS payment models and subscription-based services, the need to stay competitive will become reliant on using cloud-based WMS platforms.
Drawbacks of a Cloud-Based WMS
Several disadvantages of using cloud-based WMS platforms exist. According to Supply Chain Digest, poor system response time, a lack of access to IT resources, limited functionality, and compatibility with existing systems have left some warehouses operating with terminal-based WMS platforms. This was primarily due to the significant WMS players continuing to produce and manage their platforms in the same, terminal-based set fashion. However, the phenomenal expansion of the cloud-based market is pushing more vendors and software developers to rethink their cloud strategies, and demand for SaaS WMS is increasing at an equally surprising rate.
Today, tier 1 WMS in the cloud has finally come to market, and cloud-based solutions can handle the complexity and scale of the world’s most intense and active distribution centers. Internet speeds are increasing, and IT resources for cloud-based deployment are accessible, such as those offered by Veridian. Mostly, the barriers to cloud-based WMS adoption are falling, and the use of SaaS platforms for a WMS will become commonplace.
Know How Cloud-Based Systems Will Affect Your Organization
Warehouse managers will face added pressure to upgrade the WMS and take advantage of lower cost WMS in the cloud. Some shareholders will be reluctant to place their proprietary information in the hands of third-party WMS vendors, and the risk of cyber security and cyber-attacks will always exist. However, high value exists in leveraging WMS in the cloud, especially tier 1 platforms for companies that have struggled to stay competitive and tap into the essential functions of a modern WMS.
Jason Rosing is a founding partner of Veridian; a valued Manhattan Associates partner and technology leader specializing in user-friendly, robust and flexible automated testing and configuration management solutions designed to meet the ever-changing challenges of the omni-channel landscape.
A version of this story first appeared on the Cerasis blog.