Aug 10th, 2019

ERP Warehouse Module vs. Dedicated WMS

As companies grow, they inevitably look at upgrading their business systems to keep pace with the increase in activity and the added levels of complexity added to their day to day operations. A regular outcome of this process is the introduction, or an upgrading of, an ‘all singing, all dancing’ ERP system. It seems to make sense to have one integrated software package that can cover a range of functions including HR, finance, sales, marketing, accounting, material purchasing, inventory control and distribution. Unfortunately, this ‘silver bullet’ approach, doesn’t always translate when it comes to the warehouse.


Unlike most office functions the warehouse is one area that is difficult to run to a global ‘standard procedure’. With a range of factors including building design, space constraints, multiple sizes of goods, compliance issues and response times differing between warehouses in the same company the effects are increased exponentially when looking across different companies and industries making a ‘one size fits all’ warehouse module solution impossible.

There are 3 main reasons companies look to a dedicated WMS provider instead of continuing with their ERP module:

1. Functionality: A WMS provider has usually seen all these problems before and is experienced in dealing with them. The philosophy of the company is different in that they understand you have been running your warehouse with these constraints for some time and you have the best knowledge on how to deal with them. This allows you to configure the software to suit your operation instead of changing your operation to suit the software.

2. Spiralling costs: Going hand in hand with the lack of standard functionality, costs start rising rapidly when ‘customising’ functions to suit your business. These costs are multiplied when additional warehouses and their specific requirements are taken into account. The only available options at this point are to change your operation to suit the way the ERP works or incur the inflated costs to get a system that fits the way you work.

3. Support: With any complex software solution it is essential to have support on hand to swiftly rectify any issues that may arise. This is especially the case when the software deals with any business critical function. With an ERP module running the warehouse you have one module of a large software package running one of these essential functions. If you then factor in any customisations that have been made to the original software package you really need to speak directly to a specialist in that area of the software who is also familiar with your particular changes to get things back on track in a timely fashion.

An ERP module for warehouse management can seem to be an easy way to improve warehouse performance. However, when you factor in hidden costs of changing your operation to suit the limited functionality and support offered coupled with the spiralling upfront costs for any customisation it can soon become more of a hindrance than a benefit.

If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to see what alternatives are available? Just because your ERP can’t solve the problem, doesn’t mean it can’t be solved.

Written by

Shane Madz

Business Manager

Shane helps companies deploy warehouse logistics with a focus on technology to improve productivity and efficiently.

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