The editorial staff at the Supply Chain Collaborator recently convened a virtual conference with an array of transportation industry veterans, each representing a different perspective within the field. We polled a transportation manager, the principal of a successful 3PL, an accomplished transportation consultant, an IT chief and a transportation executive, asking each to answer the following question: “What are the most important transportation management questions a TMS should be able to answer?” Their responses were packed full of so much valuable insight, we’ve decided to cull portions of each respondent’s answers to make a series from this discussion throughout the first month of 2014. Installment # 1 of 4: The Transportation Executive
Our first set of responses to our question came from Mr. Joe Lombardo. Joe has held executive leadership positions during the last 30 years at Nabisco Companies and Nestle USA as well as a term as President and Chairman of the Board of the Food Shippers of America from 2009 to 2012.
Mr. Lombardo, what are the most important questions a state of the art TMS should be able to answer?
1) What is the best mode selection for my freight? – A robust TMS should be able to deliver data-driven decision support in determining the optimal transport mode a shipper should use to ensure best value (best value defined as balance of cost, service, capacity, load integrity, and dock efficiencies). If the TMS isn’t capturing metrics in each of these areas, it is not a best in class tool.
2) How well am I serving my customers with respect to on-time delivery? – Improving on-time delivery to customers helps a shipper become a more competitive supplier to its clients and potential clients. A worthy TMS must provide visibility into delivery times and alert managers to areas where scheduling can be improved.
3) Are my carriers/consignees performing to agreed-upon service levels? – TMS users should be able to generate “bullet-proof” carrier, shipping origin and consignee location report cards to be used in discussions with relevant stakeholders.
4) Does the TMS platform integrate with my other systems for seamless supply chain management? – It is imperative that any software for transportation management be flexible enough to seamlessly connect to other critical enterprise software tools like ERP, WMS, freight payment systems etc. A TMS can and should act as a data hub that connects with purchasing systems so inbound PO’s can be managed just like sales orders but also acts as a repository of historical data to be utilized in future RFPs, or network analyses. In this role, the TMS must be strong enough to maintain data integrity of 99.9% or better. Not many contemporary TMS tools are able to achieve this.
In the next installment we’ll examine the answers from a transportation manager and get his more operational perspective on what questions a TMS simply must be able to answer.
Joe Lombardo provides pragmatic transportation strategies grounded with real world experience via his consultancy, Ege Avenue Associates. Visit his site and blog at http://www.egeavenue.com/