Based on our conversations with key warehouse operations personnel, we uncovered a recurring theme – there is often a disconnect between individuals looking to deploy modern mobile solutions and the supply chain executives who sign off on these technology investments. Executives we interviewed all were focused on cost reduction; while not surprising, there was recognition that mobile technology was continuing to play a more significant role in helping to improve efficiency and accuracy in their supply distribution chains. Given that the majority of the legacy applications in use today in warehouse deployments are text-oriented and keyboard-centric solutions, the opportunity to modernize is significant. Below are VDC’s recommendations to assist in the decision-making of these mobile solutions to successful modernize the mobile technologies used in your warehouse deployments.
Make sure your vendor(s) understand warehouse and distribution center operations. Potential vendors need to be familiar with these types of operations, not just the hardware or software they’re offering. Make sure they are aware of what your associates’ day-to-day activities and understand the efficiency gains you are trying to achieve.
No two warehouses are alike. Explain the characteristics of your warehouse operation in detail. Your processes and workflow are unique to your business; ensure that your vendor(s) are able to accommodate your warehouse or distribution facility. Specifically, you should discuss your business-critical applications and determine if they can be modernized for use on modern mobile platforms such as Android. Choosing a vendor with domain expertise is recommended.
Perform an accounting of your mobile computing devices. Determine if your vendor’s solution will allow you to continue to utilize your hardware. Also, make sure you can continue to leverage your existing vendor relationships.
Consider the processes involved with integration with your existing systems. What will be required for seamless integration with your warehouse management and control systems, or other solutions? What are the ramifications of changes to any of these systems? Make sure you can easily integrate systems now and in the future and are not limited by custom integration software.
As with any significant technology investment, you should ask for references. Determine how the vendor supports customers and handles problems.
Read VDC Research’s full report on Taking Advantage of Apps and App Modernization in Warehousing.