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Want to get the most out of the data sitting in your warehouse management software? Here are some ways to look at that data that could potentially give you a new perspective on your warehouse and your business.
The idea of keeping tight metrics and producing real-time reports for a warehouse is definitely not new. Warehouse managers know that the right metrics and analytics help their efficiency and, in turn, their bottom line.
But while having reams of data at your disposal is one thing, knowing the best ways to use it is another. Finding new and unique ways to use your reports and KPIs can reveal all sorts of new ways to make improvements and increase efficiency, from warehouse layout and daily operations to quality control processes and supply chain.
Here, then, are some easy-to-implement ideas for your reporting and metrics:
WMS software and tools like barcode labels and barcode scanners allow managers to view real-time inventory data. This is great for getting rid of old-fashioned manual cycle counts and avoiding backorder situations. But real-time data’s usefulness can go even further:
Looking at historical data, especially in regard to purchasing from vendors, can help warehouse managers make choices that can increase productivity and save money. WMS can track a company’s experience with various members of their supply chain and point them in the direction of the best value. This may not always mean buying materials from the cheapest supplier, but also from the one with the most favorable delivery times, payment terms, and customer service.
Just as managers should pay attention to historical data, they must also use their WMS to help them look forward. Instead of trying to predict what can be accomplished on any given day by studying trends of the past, warehouse management software can create a daily plan.
Tracking the time it takes to get a product out the door after it’s been ordered is one way of measuring a warehouse’s efficiency. But there is so much more to learn about the time in between. Nearly every action between the receiving area and shipping area can be examined to maximize productivity.
One of the most powerful tools that WMS warehouse metrics provide is the ability to make decisions based on exceptions to a baseline or norm. Every warehouse is different, and each will have a different “normal” when it comes to its analytics. Based on assumptions about what usually happens, preset benchmarks will help a warehouse stay on track. Whenever a KPI ventures out of that normal zone, it’s a red flag to managers that some type of action is called for.
While it’s important to know how many sales are made, a huge test of a warehouse operation lies in its returns. Returns are a given when it comes to the world of order fulfillment. Every company has an idea of how much merchandise they can expect to have customers send back. While analytics can show how much of each item is returned, a more important metric is the reason why. Having a return procedure that asks that question is crucial. And as with any other metric, a sudden shift in those typical reasons could be an important clue in finding a problem.
The more managers understand their WMS and the metrics and KPIs it provides, the more the data will do for them. Finding the right KPIs to track, or the strategic combination of a few different metrics can open up a variety of possibilities to make a warehouse more productive and efficient.
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