In order to keep up with the ever-evolving supply chain industry, you need to make a plan to gain full control and visibility over your logistics-related data and processes. Together, control and visibility can give users the power to define, manage and strengthen their supply chains, allowing them to cash in on revenue opportunities and be flexible enough to meet constantly changing business and economic needs.
With the right transportation management system (TMS), you can get that level of power along with the ability to automate and streamline work hours, time and resource-consuming tasks such as finding the best rates and monitoring shipping statuses, you can even join connected ecosystems that allow you to tap into extensive networks of available capacity. And with predictive analytics at your fingertips, you can take action to dramatically reduce your freight costs and make better decisions faster.
A TMS can be the solution for all supply chains from the simple to the complex. There is no longer an excuse not to be leveraging technology to manage your transportation operations. TMSs have become an essential tool for managing the many challenges that come with shipping freight. Here are four questions to consider to ensure you’re choosing the right transportation management system (TMS) for your business:
1. Why Do You Need a TMS?
Before exploring the many TMS options that are available, it’s important to determine exactly why you need one. Think about your current pain points, challenges and what you’re hoping to overcome by implementing a TMS into your logistics operation.
Is your company a small- to medium-sized business looking to move away from manually finding carrier rates, booking and tracking shipments and into the digital age? Or does your enterprise-sized company have a more complex supply chain that could be streamlined and made more flexible with premier applications like visibility tools and tracking and integrations? Do you ship enough that the integration of your ERP systems to your TMS will save you time, reduce errors and drive ROI? Could you be saving money by accurately auditing freight invoices with the touch of a button?
Do you need to address specific tasks such as order consolidation and optimization, dock scheduling, or real-time insights and aggregated supply chain data delivered via GPS?
Once you’ve determined your current situation, you’ll be able to make the most informed decision possible.
2. What Are the Critical Functions and Benefits of Using a TMS?
At their core, TMSs enable you to automatically rate, book and track shipments, as well as communicate with shippers and customers in real-time with accurate data. A TMS that offers full analytics can also tell you what you’re doing well and where you could optimize your efforts by giving you full visibility into your supply chain. On top of these benefits, a TMS should be able to solve other challenges by:
- Connecting you to an extensive carrier pool with more options to help you find the right carrier at the right price and service type.
- Ensuring accuracy and time savings with efficient system-to-system communication
- Automatically documenting and auditing invoices, handling claims and exceptions.
- Creating easy-to-read reports and dashboards that keep track of the cost and service types of every shipment.
3. Does the TMS Offer a Full Carrier Network?
Any TMS worth its salt will provide out-of-the-box web services integrations to your current carriers at no additional charge, and an EDI integration where necessary. If the TMS in question can’t connect to your basic carrier rates, that’s a red flag.
Great TMSs will also act as a conduit for you to find additional capacity when your normal relationships fall short. Before committing to a TMS, make sure that they have an online logistics community that enables you to book negotiated rates with your current carriers alongside a full set of additional carriers for parcel, LTL and truckload shipments.
4. Does the TMS Vendor Understand Your Industry?
Freight shipping is full of challenges. Orders get changed or cancelled. Freight is damaged. Unexpected accessorial charges can appear. Shipments can get delayed. Each industry has its own unique combination of challenges.
To protect yourself from leveraging a tool that isn’t set up for success in your industry, dive a bit deeper and check out vendors’ customer and focused industries lists. If your vertical isn’t mentioned or customers don’t include anyone in your industry, the TMS provider may not have a solid understanding of specific challenges you face. Many providers actually cater to 3PLs and brokers and have not specialized in solving shipper problems. If all the customers are in one or two industries – and not yours – look for a TMS provider with broader experience.
No matter what industry you serve or how complex your shipping business is Kuebix has a TMS for every shipper. fill out the contact form and someone from Kuebix will contact you about TMS solutions for your business.