Technology is a driver of efficiency. For shippers, a transportation management system (TMS) can be the window into a world of actionable data that can truly transform your transportation network. But when selecting a TMS provider, what are some of the things you need to know? What capabilities and functionalities should it have, and how can you best put those functionalities to work for you? Our first “TMS Talk” in this newest blog series examines some of the key considerations when selecting a TMS that’s right for your organization.
Does the TMS give you enhanced visibility into your entire supply chain?
A TMS can help logistics professionals quickly identify and execute optimization opportunities, but you need visibility into your network in order to do so effectively. With today’s TMS, shippers have a 360-degree view of their transportation network at all times, including a real-time graphical view of shipments and active KPI dashboards, such as:
- Active shipments
- On-time arrivals/departures
- Carrier performance
- DOE fuel index
The TMS should also give clear financial visibility, including access to landed cost and cost to serve, among other key financial metrics. This “control tower” approach to transportation management gives shippers a singular, all-encompassing, real-time view of their supply chain. And as a cloud application, this type of TMS provides organizations with a data center application at a significantly lower cost of ownership.
Is the data that it offers timely and actionable?
The speed of visibility into an organization’s supply chain and the timeliness of that information is critical to its success. Make sure your TMS provides the business intelligence (BI), reporting and analytics you need to make strategic, data-driven decisions. It must give your organization access to actionable data that can actually drive meaningful change; not just offer up “data for data’s sake.” The right TMS will pull in real-time, timely, accurate, and complete data from many sources.
BI tools have taken many large steps over the past few years. Historically, reports for shippers would take quite a bit of time to pull, and the end result would be made up of Excel spreadsheets. And in some cases, the data would be old and no longer relevant. However, with new TMS, databases are available specifically for shippers to access customized reports – when and where they need them. These “self-service” type of reports are much more engaging and can drill down into specific shipments, regions, lanes, carriers and more by accessing data warehouses via a cloud-based TMS.
Access to this level of intelligence and analytics provides shippers with the transparency they need to truly drive optimization within their supply chain. With your current infrastructure, do you know who is moving your freight and what the true cost is? Can you can dial into specific shipment areas that have the potential to be at risk? The amount of detailed information on a shipment matters – even down on a SKU level. If your TMS doesn’t actively (and pro-actively) provide this information, your organization is going to be falling behind.
Does it incorporate real-time web data that enables you to be proactive?
Access to data allows shippers to make better, more-informed decisions. By combining the logistics data available through the enhanced network visibility provided by a TMS with the ability to incorporate internet data, shippers can be more proactive in their decision making.
Some systems can even help predict the future and alert shippers of potential disruptions – allowing them to proactively take steps to address those disruptions in order to maintain smooth operations and high levels of customer service.
A TMS featuring software robots – a type of “web crawler” similar to what Google uses to constantly scour the internet for relevant data – can be programmed to collect status information from websites and update your system or your customer’s system. The robot can automatically go to a carrier’s website, insert an ID number and gather the latest shipment information.
Is it scalable and customizable? Do you have to pay for upgrades?
With a software-as-a-solution (SaaS) TMS application, implementation is faster than licensing in-house, making speed to market and speed to benefit also that much quicker. And with the right SaaS TMS, you don’t have to be worried about paying to upgrade or going through an upgrade process that’s a hassle.
Stay tuned here on the blog for more in our “TMS Talk” series!
What questions do you have about your TMS?