Your WMS Selection Team
Investing in technology, especially technology that directly supports execution, can be challenging to get correct. One of the ways to overcome that challenge, to get to the right set of vendors and expose the best fit at the right price, is to put together an internal selection team with the collective experience to get it right. There are four key roles on the selection team, and those roles can be filled by people within your organization holding any title. They are: The Cost, The Expert, The Value, and The Vision.
Technology costs. Measures of cost vary, and you should be able to measure it in multiple ways to get a better view of it: Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), First Year Costs, Up-Front Costs, Capital Expenditure, No CapEx (recurring monthly cost), etc. Putting those figures together and comparing vendors is an important part of the “The Cost’s” role; however, their most important role is in collating different proposals and fee structures, and creating an “apples-to-apples” comparison. Proposal and Commercial structures vary, as do standards of Support, Professional Services, Disaster Recovery Services, and many other facets of a vendor’s offering. The Cost’s role is to ferret out those differences so that the terms and the expense associated with each can be compared.
Someone in the warehouse sees each process in its whole, from beginning to end and every step in between. The Expert delivers your as-is explanation to vendors, and this very important role also knows the limitations of each process: error rates, capacity and throughput constraints, blocking/starving causes, etc. The Expert sees the warehouse through the steps of a process, and the measured outputs – and sees them at the same time. This role also represents one of the choices along the spectrum of selection: stay the same or do nothing.
What is every dollar spent worth? This role focuses solely on critically examining the technology options through a lens of improvement, and improvement along multiple lines: speed, efficiency, savings, improved quality, reduced errors, increased visibility, etc. An expert in their own right, “The Value” quantifies those improvements, and very often is a competing view point to the role of “The Cost.”
These first three roles may sit in the same presentations, review the same applications and solutions, and often will have significantly different takes on that information. Each role; The Cost, The Expert, and The Value, reconcile their views and rank selections for your organization. The best example is the most expensive technology also bringing the greatest value: those two roles must develop a working metric to deliver a recommendation back to the selection team.
One common selection focus is on addressing current limits in your operation, and selecting technology to address those. The Vision must look 3 to 5 years into the future: new or expanded facilities, shifts in focus on modes of delivery or target markets, growth projections - all are considerations in technology selection. “The Vision” represents growth and change, and needs to evaluate a vendor’s product and organization to determine the true partnership aspect of selection: can a vendor grow or change with my company?
Technology selection for operations support can be difficult. The four roles mentioned can always be shuffled or combined – but they do need to exist in an evaluation and selection process.