By Bob Croce, Insider Learning Network
Choices, choices, choices …
Warehouse Management (WM) in SAP ERP, or SAP SCM Extended Warehouse Management (EWM)?
Not sure which way to go? Well, SCM Expert recently enlisted the help of IBM’s Chris Moose, who explained the factors – such as functionality, cost, available expertise, and outlook – that should go into helping you decide whether to make the transition from WM to EWM.
In an article, which appeared in the March 2010 issue of SCM Expert, Moose says that WM is a good solution if your site is simple and the current version of WM meets your needs. However, if your site is more complex, or one in which you anticipate requirements growing over time, it’s wise to consider SAP EWM.
A fourth release is due out soon, and so this is a good time to consider adoption of SAP EWM. But, according to Moose, you should consider the following factors first before making your move:
WM provides the basic capability for radio frequency devices, bin management, placement/removal strategies, and inventory control (cycle counting and holds/releases), Moose writes. If your needs are for basic warehousing and you only have a handful of users, then WM is a good fit.
If your needs are more multifaceted, SAP EWM has all the functionality of WM, but is optimized for higher volume facilities. It includes slotting, labor management, flow-through (cross-docking), and improved wave management, among other features.
Moose says that most companies already have a license for WM as part of their SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) license. However, what they do not know is that often, if they are licensed for SAP R/3 Enterprise Extension Set 2.0 (released almost four years ago), they also have an SAP EWM license. Check with your account executive to understand your specific situation.
Warehouse management expertise is readily available in the market, Moose writes. However, because SAP EWM is a more recent product, it does take some planning. You should allocate some time for your team to attend SAP EWM training or seek assistance from a consulting partner because SAP EWM is more complex and not as widely understood as WM. Assuming the solution can be learned on the fly is not a wise bet.
The outlook of both products, Moose tells us, is likely the most important criterion. SAP has stated that as long as SAP ECC exists, it will support WM. SAP ECC is not likely going anywhere anytime soon (your SAP account executive can further explain your support outlook for SAP ECC). Fundamentally, it is safe to say that WM will be supported for the foreseeable future. Of less certainty is the enhancement outlook for WM. SAP has been fairly clear that it is focusing future enhancements on SAP EWM.
SAP’s declaration that SAP EWM is the focus for ongoing development makes the outlook for that product very favorable. A new release is expected in the latter half of 2010 and SAP has introduced the SAP enhancement package concept for SAP EWM. This is a modular enhancement style that allows companies to turn on new functionality without undertaking a significant upgrade. “I do not know what enhancements, integration points, or business scenarios SAP intends to release in the warehousing arena, but any new capability will most likely be supported on the SAP EWM platform,” Moose says.
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