Warehouse management systems are a significant asset for companies that deal in product inventories or store products and materials in physical warehouses. Remote warehouse management software has brought enormous innovations to the process of warehouse management. Operations that rely on old pen and paper techniques are quickly falling prey to the hosts of problems that come with such methods. Why deal with multiple avenues of human error when you can remotely manage your entire warehousing operation?
Before we take a look at the features remote warehouse management software, let’s look at what this type of software is and what it does.
What Is Remote Warehouse Management Software?
Imagine a scenario: you have a complex warehousing operation that links multiple locations and goods that belong to numerous clients. Things are proceeding efficiently until the unthinkable occurs. Out of nowhere connectivity drops to zero, or even worse: the wide-area network (WAN) goes down completely. Suddenly, valuable data is no longer making its way between your warehouses when you need it most.
Such a catastrophe is entirely avoidable with the implementation of remote warehouse management software. In the event of downtime or unexpected ERP platform updates, remote WMS guarantees that your data still goes through collection and jobs don’t run into any process snags.
Those in control of the business won’t always be on the ground at a warehouse operation. The ability to manage warehouses remotely opens many doors for business leaders. However, how does a remote warehouse management solution work? We outlined some of the top aspects of how business planners utilize remote warehouse management solutions:
Remote Inventory Management
One of the key challenges for remote warehouse management is tracking high volumes of goods and materials as they move from place to place. Some remote warehouse management software vendors call this supply chain life cycle execution, as these resources assist the movement of stock into and out of a warehouse. Other tools have a particular focus on a given stage of inventory management. For example, some traditional inventory management tools focus on real-time inventory tracking for products as they travel to customers.
Regardless of how businesses use these tools, they offer the ability to manage a warehouse remotely. Barcode scanning or radio frequency ID tracking allows someone who isn’t at a physical warehouse to see precisely how much of a given product comes in, where to store it, how long it stays and how much leaves in a given time frame. This type of advanced inventory management helps to reduce the need for warehouse space by reducing the number of unnecessary in-stock products. It can also assist with order fulfillment, dock processing as well as analyzing and tracking deliveries to a customer base. Inventory management and supply chain management are two of the most significant values for remote warehouse management systems.
In today’s world, integrating the cloud into your operations is something of a given. As warehousing operations expand, tying everything together via one easy-to-access portal is a life-saver. Remote warehouse management software and the cloud go hand-in-hand to push your small (or large) warehousing enterprise to the next level.
The cloud, while more useful for larger enterprises, brings ease of access to any size operation. Streamlining operations without having to be physically present in a warehouse is the name of the game for remote WMS functionality. Adopting cloud functionality is a critical step in the right direction when looking for ways to optimize.
Is your warehousing enterprise multi-tenant and global? Look no further than the cloud, which allows you to manage multitudes of warehouses from any location at any time!
Labor and Workforce Management
Another essential element of these systems is the ability to manage staff in a warehouse.
Without these state-of-the-art tools, someone in a remote location would have a hard time staying on top of what’s happening with their staff. They don’t know, without detailed phone calls, how many people might be on the current staff roster, how many are inside the building or how many are going to show up in a given day. They don’t have insight into performance or productivity.
However, with modern tools, remote managers can see who is on site, as well as what work they are doing at a given time. With the right connection to standalone human resources, they can even get a sense of what a warehouse team looks like in terms of people’s background, experience and particular skill sets. Such a wealth of data makes for effective managerial decision making, all from a distance.
Backup and Data Maintenance Systems
With all of this vital warehouse management work, remote leaders have to be able to rely on a system to maintain itself despite obstacles. Backup and disaster planning systems are built for data redundancy. If something happens at the site, or the vendor experiences downtime, information remains intact, and there is no operational slowdown. Planning for downtime and system failure is a crucial feature of any remote warehouse management tool.
If high availability data collection is necessary, many software solutions provide functionality in this regard as well. Failover systems can be put into place if an outage occurs, ensuring that employees can keep working without losing valuable data. High availability solutions also create an instant recovery point and can bounce back from disruptions quicker than most solutions.
Accounting and Reporting Tools
Other elements of remote warehouse management focus on streamlining accounting practices and providing quick, up-to-date reports.
Many of the more complex systems can tie inventory tracking and product delivery assessment to finances. Some products can even integrate with accounting packages like QuickBooks. Others can connect users to Crystal Reports to build reporting formats that help business leaders understand what’s happening and plan ahead. These systems also offer excellent data visualization tools, such as dashboards that show how much money is coming in through a particular warehouse operation.
Maintaining Customer Relationships
The happiness of your customers directly affects the success of your warehousing operations. You have the warehouse space to accommodate multiple clients, but how can remote WMS turn one-off customers into return clients?
Real-time visibility of your current inventory that you can access remotely is one of the first safeguards against damaging customer relationships. Stock shortages can lead to late shipments if restocking does not occur in time. Late shipments can lower customer opinion of your enterprise and directly affect your income.
Some software solutions include functionality that can make reordering supplies for return customers easy. Using data from past orders, you can remotely automate the reordering process without using valuable employee time.
With the ability to quickly order components or products, customers can rely on your speed and accuracy. Accurate billing and receipt generation is another benefit of remote WMS that can strengthen customer relationships. With easy access anywhere, you can check that fees are paid on time and ensure that transactions are completed in a timely manner and with no errors.
Relying on older methods of billing wastes time and can breed unnecessary mistakes. Nothing will turn away a client faster than a late bill or an incorrect overcharge.
The Value of Real-Time Information
All of the above innovations can thrive on the modern principle of real-time information delivery. The quicker this data is brought to remote managers, the more it helps fine-tune a warehouse operation. Again, these types of modern systems are relatively cutting-edge and have come about somewhat recently to enable all sorts of remote and agile management opportunities.
Real-time data collection does not rely on a local copy of transaction data. When ERP updates strike, this functionality keeps your warehouse up-to-date and transmitting data throughout the upgrade process.
Finding Your Solution
We have a definition and some working knowledge of what remote warehouse management can bring to your table, what next? Take a look inward at your operation and decide on some must-have functionality you need to combat your warehousing pain points. Ask yourself (and software vendors) a few probing questions to help guide you on the path to implementing a perfect solution. If you are having trouble coming up with some, here are a few examples that can help get you started.
What size is your operation? Remote inventory and warehouse software solutions are no one size fits all. Smaller warehousing enterprises do not need to go after the most complex software suites, and in fact, could damage their efficiency by doing so. The same goes for more extensive operations; a suite that is too simple to handle multi-tenant warehousing operations that span the globe will only hurt.
How much room is there in the budget? Implementing new software comes with a price tag, and making sure you are on track with your budget is critical. Just because a solution is expensive doesn’t mean it will solve your problems. In the other direction, going for a cheap software suite only because it costs less is a bad choice.
Does the solution come with a support system? Before hitching yourself to a software solution try to keep in mind that no matter how small the integration, new software comes with growing pains. Be sure to ask vendors about support availability, do they have staff ready to answer any integration or other tech support needs?
General warehousing or specific focus? While the main topic of this article is remote warehouse management, inventory management is another important branch of the supply chain that remote WMS taps. Specific software solutions may focus on aspects you do not need, define if you have specific goals or an overarching need to optimize completely.
Is training required? Whether you are adding single modules or completely revamping your WMS setup, there will be growing pains. New additions to your warehousing functionality usually require a bit of training to gets users up to speed. Keep this in mind when evaluating budgetary concerns (both time and money) before implementing a new solution.
Trying to narrow down your perfect software suite can be difficult. If you are still having some trouble sifting through the many products available, take a look at our requirements template. We can help guide you toward finding that perfect fit.
Companies without modern WMS software should think about how these tools can help a production or warehousing company evolve. Remote warehouse management can provide good ROI for investment in cutting-edge software products. Adoption of this kind of solution can even better put you on the front foot of industry innovation!
How would adopting remote warehouse management software streamline your warehousing operation? Leave us a comment below!