In its simplest terms warehouse software is an application, often called a warehouse management system, or WMS, that supports the day-to-day operations in a warehouse. Warehouse Management Software solutions enable centralized management of tasks such as tracking inventory levels and stock locations.
It is possible for Management Software systems to operate as standalone applications or to run as one part of a complete Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, system solution.
Before, warehouse software was limited in scope. For the most part, it was simply able to reveal to management where certain stock and products were located within the warehouse. Today, Warehouse Management Software systems are extremely complex and data intensive. In fact, the higher-end systems may include tracking and routing technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, and even voice recognition. Due to this intricacy of operations, the more complete Warehouse Management Software systems often require a knowledgeable IT staff to run them properly. Therefore, initially a system to control movement and storage of materials within a warehouse, the role of Warehouse Management Software gradually evolved to embrace light manufacturing, transportation management, order management, and even complete accounting systems.
The detailed setup and processing within a Management Software system will differ significantly from one software vendor to another. Nevertheless, the basic logic will use a combination of item, location, quantity, unit of measure, and order information to determine where to stock, where to pick, and in what sequence to perform these operations because the goals remain the same. From the very simplest to the most complex of Warehouse Management Software systems, they have all been designed to provide management with the information it needs to efficiently control the movement of materials within a warehouse in a more efficient and effective manner. Thus, a true Warehouse Management Software system plays a key role in the supply chain with the fundamental objective being to be in charge of the materials in a warehouse -how they move along the chain of production, where they move to and when does this movement occur, and where they are stored when the route is finished. Warehouse management, therefore, includes a certain amount of control over the receipt, storage, and movement of goods -almost always finished goods, to intermediate storage locations or to the customer.
Because Warehouse Management takes charge of the progress of products through the warehouse, a second objective is to keep track of all the associated transactions, such as shipping, receiving, put-away, and picking. Directed picking, directed replenishment, and directed put-away are keys to this type of software. The systems also direct and optimize stock put-away based on real-time information about the status of bin utilization. It of necessity involves the physical infrastructure, tracking systems, and communication between product stations. In other words, the reason warehouses need and want good, in-house warehouse management software is to have a set of computerized procedures to handle the receipt of stock and returns into the facility, model and manage the logical representation of the physical storage facilities, manage the stock within the facility, and enable a seamless link to order processing and logistics.