What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Buy a TMS Solution)

Selecting a TMS solution is a lot like having a baby.  Particularly for those organizations that have not yet dipped their toes into the waters of logistics automation.  Not only must one think about the near term needs of infancy, but also how things will change as the fledgling solution grows and matures. 

Once only utilized by the largest organizations, cloud computing has brought TMS solutions to the masses with mid-sized and even small shippers able to source and implement solutions that are affordable and effective in automating their logistics processes. That said, there are a lot of variables to consider for an organization of any size when selecting the right platform and it is easy to get mired down in the decision process.  Here are some guidelines to consider when you’re tasked with choosing a TMS solution to implement.

First and foremost, it is important for a shipper to develop a clear understanding of what they hope to achieve by automating transportation logistics processes.  It is important to realize that automation is not a remedy for broken or otherwise compromised processes.  A good TMS provider provides guidance on re-engineering logistics processes to ensure the best possible results from automation technology.  But you’ll have to be amenable and open to making fairly significant changes to the way you’ve been doing things.  Preparing your transportation logistics personnel for change before a solution is even selected so that they’re open minded and ready to be flexible once a TMS solution is chosen for implementation.

Inbound Logistics’ Emma James put together a great list of the most commonly sought-after features and functionalities to look for in a good TMS solution in an article titled, “Choosing a TMS – What’s Your End Game”.  Her TMS solution wish list includes:

  • End-to-end execution
  • Connectivity
  • Ease of use
  • Security and support
  • Carrier contract/bid management
  • Freight settlement capabilities
  • Risk management capabilities
  • Item visibility
  • Global logistics functionality
  • Ability to provide business intelligence
  • Parcel shipping support
  • Ability to benchmark data
  • Integrated freight management services
  • Fleet capabilities
  • Equipment maintenance schedules
  • Access to multiple public and private bid boards to assess capacity
  • Multi-modal capabilities

Also important to think about when going to market for a TMS solution is the fact that time moves quickly.  Market conditions change and require businesses to modulate their practices.  So while the immediate needs always appear to exert outsized influence on the TMS selection process, the most successful shippers pay attention to their long-term strategies, plans and goals.  They select a solution that demonstrates not simply the ability to address their immediate needs, but that is also proven to scale and flex with inevitable changes to the operating environment.

Talk to an UltraShipTMS expert about how to craft an effective RF P for TMS solutions.  They’re always happy to help ensure high volume shippers get the most out of their efforts toward supply chain logistics automation.