External Warehouse Management Systems vs. ERP Inventory Modules
Most ERPs on the market today include some form of inventory control module, not a warehouse management system (WMS) – there is a big difference, and very often what is called a WMS is effectively an ICS. Even where ERPs do actually contain a type of WMS, it is often very basic and concentrates on only a few aspects of warehouse control, e.g. order processing/picking, binning/put away, and stock counting, rather than being a comprehensive system that controls, and reports on, all aspects of the warehousing operation.
In many cases, an ERP has been chosen and implemented for the functionality and benefits it offers to departments other than warehousing/logistics (marketing, sales, contact/call center, customer service, accounting and administration, etc.)
This approach may benefit the business as a whole, but it can leave the warehousing department without the tools to operate at maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
One solution to this problem is to run a separate, standalone warehouse management system that has better capabilities than the warehousing module contained within the ERP. This is not ideal, though, as it complicates the IT infrastructure of the business, creates a silo effect with regard to departmental information, and means that other departments are unable to see inventory data and other modules that interact with inventory and order information may not work.
A far better solution is to look at warehouse management systems, like those offered by Mantis, that offer comprehensive, best-in-class tools and functionality, and are able to integrate with commonly used ERPs (e.g. SAP, Oracle/JDE, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Epicore, and others).
This approach, if done right, can create a best-of-both-worlds scenario – the company as a whole gets to use the ERP that works well for most departments, and warehousing gets to use a comprehensive, state-of-the-art warehouse management system that gives them the functionality, data visibility, and efficiency that they need to be fully productive and cost effective.