Damned if you do—damned if you don’t
It’s a common enough phrase, and for most companies today, they are really feeling it in the tech sector. Whether you’re a manufacturing, distribution, or a field service operation, ERP + WMS integration into 21st century tech is both difficult, and necessary. We’re going to cover the “what ifs” in the decision-making process, and go over suggestions.
The integration itself takes time. And depending on your system, it can take a lot of it. Anyone who has been in the industry for a few years knows that projects—especially ones involving tech—can take longer than anticipated. Especially when it deals with an old ERP. Why is that? Well, ERP systems come with a lot of baggage that comes along in the form of code. Layers upon layers, and hours upon hours of troubleshooting.
These older systems were built in a world where you buy one product, and you’re supposed to use it your whole life, until the wheels falls off. They were never designed to have to play nice with any other systems, because no one had the foresight to think about what optimizations another system could have, or how necessary the faster, and faster flow of data becomes a necessary part of the way we conduct business.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. This is the flip-side of the coin. Like a muscle, or a car engine, if you don’t take it out for a spin, test it and try to make it better, your ERP can seize up, leaving you stuck with innovation rigor mortis. At some point, the need to update comes for us all. If you hold out, you’ve only got one sunk cost: the original ERP. On the other hand, however, you’re missing out on all the optimizations your competition may be making.
The truth sometimes hurts…
For some with early 2000s—or even ‘90s era ERPs, there’s just not a good solution for integration. The cost of adding a WMS can be high, but if your system is too complex and hard to work with from the start, you may be paying more in labor and starting costs just to get it running. Even then, you’re not guaranteed that it’s going to work when the next software update/patch comes.
Sometimes, it’s better to start from scratch. We know how hard this is to hear, because we have to say it fairly often as well. To put it in perspective however, if you put a Lamborghini engine into a ’69 Dodge Dart, you’re going to have some serious problems (The first, mainly being trunk space).
What to look for in an updated ERP system
When we’re speaking to clients about updating their ERP to accommodate a WMS, we try to stress a couple of things:
#1 Look for a cloud-based system that lives & breathes integration.
It might sound like a no-brainer, but just because a system was developed in 2020 doesn’t mean it’s going to work great in 2025 unless it was designed to. The integration of different systems isn’t going away, and it isn’t getting less complex in the next decade either.
Being able to integrate with multiple, specialized systems that are the best at what they do is only going to become more and more important as the differences between you and your competitors gets closer in margin. Look for ERPs that are specialized for your industry, look forward to future iterations, work well with AI and have an agile integration framework are going to be your best friend when it’s time to incorporate the optimizations that we haven’t even heard of yet.
#2 Beware of the 3-in-1 platforms
Just like with grooming products for men—just because it says it does three things at once—doesn’t mean it actually does all three, or that it’s good at any of them. Buying an ERP that has a built-in cookie-cutter WMS may work out fine for you. But, if you have an immediate challenge in supply chian management or need true inventory truth and visibility of your inventory ecosystem, you’re going to be underwhelmed.
Going with a specialist is your best call. There all all kinds of WMS systems built for specific industries, and the experts that build them are focusing on the needs of tomorrow, not just the needs of today.
So, to summarize, customer satisfaction is always a #1 goal for top businesses. Get an ERP and WMS from professionals who are experts in their field, and hold customer satisfaction standards as high as you do.
If you’re having trouble deciding how to integrate a WMS into an existing ERP, you need The Inventory Platform. Contact us and we’ll get you all the information you need to help you hit your business goals this year, and the next.