Gartner Research recently released a report on the most important features to look for when buying a warehouse management system. The features you should seek in a WMS will help keep costs down and protect the value of your WMS investments. The most important feature to look for when purchasing a new WMS is its flexibility and ability to stay modern right out of the box, without being completely customized for your needs.

Traditionally in the supply-chain industry, warehouse management systems have been heavily customized for each specific customer, but this approach has some major drawbacks.

The Negatives of a Highly Customized WMS

The more a warehouse management system needs to be fundamentally customized from its original state, the more expensive it will become to purchase and to maintain. This significantly raises ongoing support costs as well. Modifications and upgrades become extremely time-consuming and costly.

The high costs of implementation and maintenance may also psychologically make it harder for a business owner to walk away from such a high sunk cost and move on to a different WMS. This all leads to a continuing cycle where consumers can be left marooned with highly customized systems that could not grow with changes in the specific business or the industry as a whole.

The Benefits of a Zero Modification WMS

In response to this, the entire industry has been moving towards zero modification warehouse management systems to control costs and increase flexibility. Instead of customizing the source code of the WMS, technology now allows for embeddable scripts created by the WMS providers that is much easier to update. Upgrade times and costs dip dramatically as a result, as do support costs. Faster and more reliable support for the system also means there’s less downtime, and less time dealing with highly customized issues.

WMS vendors are constantly learning and adapting their systems to keep up with industry changes and new technologies. Adding new and improved core functionalities like billing and reporting is simple with a zero modification WMS, but could be near impossible with a heavily customized system. Modern systems also can better adapt to business rule changes through small tweaks and refinement rather than wholesale coding changes. With a zero modification WMS, your systems will be flexible enough to remain modern throughout their lifespan.

All of these benefits will improve your bottom line, and maximize the ROI on your warehouse management system investment.

When it comes to buying the best WMS, it’s definitely in your best interests to purchase a system that is as close to perfect as possible right out of the box. It will improve support and maintenance costs, and allow for easy upgrades to keep your WMS current and modern throughout its lifespan.