by Lewis Marston
S/4HANA SAP Warehouse Management (WMS): what are your options?
“We are moving to S/4HANA; what are my SAP Warehouse Management System (WMS) options?”, has been one of the most common questions we’ve been asked up until recently.
Many of our customers who are managing supply chain and asset intensive businesses are also considering the implications of the decision to extend the life of the SAP ECC platform (and therefore also SAP Warehouse Management) on business systems roadmaps. Many more are looking to understand the implications of extending the use of SAP WM as a tactical solution until such a time as their S/4 roadmap is clear.
Currently, the SAP Warehouse Management System (WMS) options available to you are shown in the table below of SAP WMS options by SAP ERP.
Helping make sense of this complex situation and making confident decisions on where to invest budget to support your business needs has become a hot topic, as SAP users need to assess what system will be right for them, and make plans to de-mystify the current scenario.
Already running SAP S/4HANA? The selection process is straightforward, based on requirements and budget.
Running SAP ECC with an S/4HANA transformation plan? The selection process is also fairly clear, with more consideration required on the actual transition strategy and roadmap.
However, for businesses running SAP ECC looking to introduce a WMS solution, or with existing SAP WM solutions, they need to enhance to support new business requirements or improve usability the decision is now far more complex. Until recently the investment decision was far more clear cut, with the end-of-life of the SAP WM platform forcing many decisions. However, with the extended life further investment into SAP WM can still make sense and support a good return on investment prior to longer term S/4HANA and Extended Warehouse Management transformation.
The decision tree below can help you quickly focus on where your key choices are:
Regardless of which path you are taking, a well-defined investment justification is critical to support budget approval, regardless if this is to support a higher investment in a strategic solution like SAP EWM or to support investment on a twilight platform like SAP WM as a tactical solution.
ERP 6.0 Warehouse Management
Integrated warehouse option within ECC that can support simple warehouse operations via paper-based picking, but also includes basic mobile (RF) execution of warehouse activities. As an older generation platform, it lacks innovations, capability and user experience of modern platforms. While this can be a lower cost option in the short term, bear in mind re-implementation costs as you move onto S/4HANA.
Where SAP Warehouse Management makes sense for a business but the software capability shortcomings are detrimental to productivity and user experience, we have helped many business cost-effectively extend the life of the SAP WM platform with easy to implement packaged add-ons that bridge the features gaps in SAP WM (that are standard in SAP EWM) and giving the native mobile experience a much needed—and significant—usability improvement.
S/4 Stock Room Management
S/4 Stock Room Management is offered by SAP primarily as a quick to implement tactical stop-gap solution. It supports existing businesses running SAP ECC with migration to the new ERP S/4HANA, where the initial focus is on ERP capability, but with the need to conduct very simplistic inventory / warehouse operations as part of the ERP functions, before the wider digital supply chain functions are addressed. Read more.
S/4 EWM (Basic)
This is a go-to solution for any business running or migrating to SAP S/4HANA and in need of support for warehouses with simple, low volume operations. It is relatively fast to implement, has very cost-effective licensing and offers greater capability than WM or SRM. As long as it fits your requirements, it can be an easy winner.
S/4 EWM (Advanced)
If you are looking to drive business benefit across your supply chain, and have large scale, high volume or service-rich warehouses and distribution centres, or production sites, this will likely be your go-to platform. Significant additional benefits can be derived from the integration with other SAP digital supply chain platforms and support specific transportation, production, and traceability scenarios with relative simplicity.
You can learn more about basic and advanced SAP EWM here.
For businesses running or committed to moving to S/4HANA, it is beneficial to focus their WMS selection on the available EWM options. The supporting arguments for capability, technical simplicity, and total cost of ownership are very strong.
For businesses running SAP ECC with anything more than simplistic requirements, moving to a future proofed standalone (decentralised) EWM solution is advantageous . However, with the pragmatism required to balance short term budgets against the ideal strategic approach using SAP WM as a short-term tactical solution or a stop gap to a longer-term strategy, WM is still worthy of serious consideration. This is especially true where there is a reasonable match to your requirements, in which case lower software and implementation costs can get you up and running and achieve a short-term return on investment.
Tools to help you
Making the right SAP WMS platform selection is complex and time consuming. To accelerate decision making, the SAP WMS Selection Tool is simple and easy to use and will generate a full personalised report in under 10 minutes, providing you with a method to rapidly align the WMS platform capability with your specific needs. You can reassess your needs unlimited times free of charge to gain total transparency of the functionality provided within each platform, putting the control back into your hands.
Do you know what WMS platform your organisation wants to implement?
Complete the SAP EWM Sizing Tool to rapidly assess your overall requirement without the need to answer large numbers of individual detailed requirements at this early budgetary stage. Create a business case supported by substantiated budget, timeline and resourcing plans, and gain a fast indication of what an SAP EWM project would look like for your organisation