Warehouse Management Systems

The first warehouse management systems (WMS) appeared in the early 1980’s.  Some were commercial applications, others written in-house using languages now rendered long obsolete. What these early efforts had in common was that they did not support the basic routines and disciplines that we would nowadays regard as essential.

Many of these applications have now been replaced but it is staggering how many companies still use systems that are 15, 20 or even 30 years old and completely unfit for purpose. In some cases, these are at the core of a complex suite of applications with linkages that are obscure and undocumented. Often, the skills necessary to support them have long since been retired. And this situation exists, not just in small businesses, but in companies that are household names.

Why, in the age of improved corporate governance and risk management, this situation perpetuates is difficult to comprehend.  Sometimes, it is the failure to appreciate the devastating impact that failure to control physical, as opposed to financial inventory can have. Often, it is the result of taking IT investment decisions favouring areas considered more strategic year after year.

This situation exists and goes unreported even though each year it contributes to the downfall of enterprises large and small. Ensuring that your WMS, an application often regarded as fringe, is fit for purpose should feature on the agenda of every CIO and FD.