These days, there are so many TMS solution options it is almost easier to choose the wrong one than the right one. Here are three steps you can take to help determine how to engage the right solution for your organization and avoid wasting time and money deploying TMS tools that end up being a poor fit for your needs.
Step One | Understand Your Size vs. the Size of the Solution Provider
There are increasing numbers of startup TMS solutions designed to accommodate the small to medium size business (SMB). These solutions often make claims about how easy it is to use their platform and all at a very attractive low monthly cost. However, if you’re a mid-to-large size shipper (moving at least 1000 truckload or LTL shipments per month or more), you will quickly find these solutions are not at all equipped to manage your complex logistics processes. If you deploy one of these because of the seemingly low cost you’ll find it becomes a much more costly proposition as you quickly uncover the shortcomings in these simple platforms. You wouldn’t use a pickup truck to ship a semi-trailer load of freight. So why rely on a lightweight TMS technology to manage your enterprise level freight volume? Understand if you’re a larger volume shipper, you must be prepared to look at enterprise strength solutions and you won’t be misled by “too-low-be-true” subscription fees.
Step Two | Understand Your Needs
Bare bones cloud tools may be sufficient if you’re simply seeking to automate a single internal process. But if you’re a large organization, you’re probably going to need your TMS to integrate with your other supply chain technologies like ERP/order management systems, EDI/telematics systems, WMS systems, fleet management tools, financial processing systems, etc. Low-cost cloud tools are low cost for a reason. They may offer good marketing about their integration capabilities, but they will certainly lack the personnel and expertise to truly connect their TMS with your broader tech stack. Find a well-established cloud TMS provider with a demonstrable history of integrating with industry standard SCM tools like Oracle, SAP, Omnitracs and others. Understand if your transportation logistics is complex, you won’t be well-served by a simplistic tool.
Step Three | Leverage a Phased Roll Out
Enterprise level TMS providers know the market is gravitating toward the “low cost/quick start” model offered by providers addressing the SMB shipper market. They realize that it is easier to gain approval for a smaller project than for an enterprise-wide initiative. That’s why many are now offering more limited deployment options to new customers. Typically these deployments provide the basic backbone of a much more robust and feature-rich platform without full systems integration at the outset. This makes it far more cost-effective to deploy quickly and hence, more likely to earn budgetary approval. Capture the low-hanging fruit of tendering automation, track and trace and carrier management and it becomes much easier to gain approval for more in-depth deployment and systems integrations supported by an actual, tangible ROI business case.