Today's supply chain is primarily driven by the effort to stay lean, relevant and competitive in a sluggish economy. To meet these standards, companies are taking a hard look at their operations and which innovative options can keep them at the forefront of their industry. A resurgence in devotion to core competencies and the desire to shed costs and time associated with non-value added business processes has played a large part in the rapid growth of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) over the last decade. But what is driving the growing trend in SaaS-based warehouse management and what should companies know before making the decision to deploy a SaaS solution for their own warehouse operations?
A growing repository of best practices is available to companies looking to expand automation into the warehouse, logistics and distribution sectors of their operations. Business drivers for SaaS deployments have expanded to include:
- Reduced costs as responsibility for upgrades and hardware maintenance fall to the provider.
- Flexible financial models with pay-as-you-go and pay-per-transaction options.
- Faster implementation due to ready availability and access anywhere that is capable of internet connectivity.
- Reduced impact on corporate IT, with the majority of the expertise requirement placed on the provider's side of the agreement.
- Ensuring that the newest version of the application is always at your fingertips.
- Encouraging an integrated business network; employees in different locations gain access to the same business support no matter where they are.
Deployment options for business software are varied and dependent on the operational needs of the company, adding another layer of complexity to executive decision-making. The multi-tenant model seen in SaaS allows for a single code-based architecture that not only eases the upgrade process, but lowers implementation costs to a fraction of what they would be for hosted or on-premise options.
Despite the efficiencies and cost savings inherent in SaaS, it’s not always the best solution for warehouse optimization. For companies that require mass customization to meet their operational needs, on-premise deployment is still the better solution. Todd Wiegand, Apptricity’s Warehouse Management System Architect, adds his own words of advice for warehouses working toward a SaaS-based overhaul of operations: "Make sure the functionality meets all of your users' needs. I've had experiences where people have said 'This is how we run our business' until we got to the 5th or 6th warehouse and then they said, 'No, we do it differently.' That causes a lot of problems with delays and cost overruns." Carefully consider the needs of each group that will be making use of the system, choose a delivery model that is most appropriate for your organization and, finally, be sure to partner with a proven provider that can both simplify the process and meet your operational needs. A little due diligence is all it takes to ensure your software deployment “makes sense” for your own logistics and supply chain management operations.