Five reports that should be on your WMS dashboard

All businesses share the similarity of an annual profit and loss statement.  After that unique commonality, differences begin accumulating.  For that reason, there is no single answer of what every WMS dashboard should contain, because in the vernacular of all consultants, “it depends”. However, there certainly are five principles that every WMS dashboard should include, and if you construct your dashboard around these principles, you will have a satisfactory and effective tool.

There are three reasons there cannot be a single WMS dashboard blueprint:  

  • The appropriate dashboard depends on your level in the organization.  
  • The appropriate dashboard depends on your type of operation.  
  • The appropriate dashboard is driven by the decisions you make on a daily basis. 

Let’s also agree that two desirable characteristics of any WMS dashboard design are that they contain real-time, or near real-time information, and that they contain information which can be acted upon. .  

The five principles you should design around are:

1. Resources-led reporting

The WMS dashboard should contain a metric that tells you whether you have enough resources in the right places. The resources may be people, or forklifts, or pickers, or any other potential constraints. The metric won’t be resources per se, it will be whether work queues are growing or shrinking.  If you notice that the pick list is growing and the dispatch list is getting smaller, you may need to shift resources to picking.

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2. Efficiency measurements

The dashboard should contain a metric that indicates whether the resources you have assigned are performing at the expected efficiency or not. If expected receipts per hour is below normal, is it because a forklift is out of operation, someone isn’t performing as expected, or something else?

3. Site overview

Your WMS dashboard should contain a metric that indicates your process is working as designed.  This means that there are some basic measurements that show that all of the steps between receipts and shipments are remaining in approximate equilibrium.  If you are picking and loading far more than you are receiving, you are going to run out of inventory. If you are receiving more than you are shipping, you are going to run out of warehouse.

4. Inventory reports

The dashboard should contain a metric indicating the current number of backorders, stock-outs, or below-target inventories.  Ideally, this metric should have drill down capabilities, so that effective replenishment communications can be made.

5. Customer-facing metrics

The dashboard should contain the most important customer-facing metric. This could be % fill rate, % on time; % shipped complete, or whatever it is the makes your operation effective in the customers’ eyes.  This metric should be a logical result of the first four metrics. If this metric is below goal, and the other four are in control, then one of the other four are logically incorrect.

The litmus test of your design is whether you use it to make decisions and take action.  If you feel like you are flying blind when the dashboard is down, you have designed well.

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Shane Starr

About the author…

Shane Starr is a former ERP project manager, with business experience in manufacturing management, supply chain, finance, and strategic planning.

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Shane Starr