The transportation management system (TMS) market is growing globally, and for good reason. Common objectives like controlling costs, establishing internal efficiencies and managing capacity restrictions have established the need for technology that provides uninterrupted visibility across the supply chain and helps streamline operations.
In fact, in Gartner’s first Market Guide for Real-Time Visibility Providers, published November 2018, supply chain leaders surveyed for the report ranked visibility as the highest priority in the supply chain.
But it’s not simply a given.
Especially in today’s volatile global trade climate, having a TMS in place can ease the burden on transportation leaders to ensure goods get to their destination on time without crippling costs. The modern supply chain requires the flexibility and scalability provided by transportation management systems.
Knowing when a TMS is right for your business
A growing business means more robust transportation needs. Being equipped to manage the increased volume and complexity is crucial, especially as you onboard new customers, some of which likely have strict retail compliance policies that can result in fines and penalties for not following suit.
Greater complexity in your transportation needs also means the need for greater visibility. If you can’t confidently say you know where all of your shipments are at a given time, it’s time to consider a TMS. Implementing a TMS arms your business with visibility and provides the real-time information needed to also keep customers informed. That access to real time data and insight is not merely a nice to have, as it was in the past. With trade volatility on the rise, the ability to stay informed and to make quick pivots is imperative. Those who can accurately see the whole picture at the click of a button will surpass the competition as they rush to make less informed decisions.
In addition to business growth and the complexity that comes with it, a TMS is an especially crucial tool to have in place if your business is considering M&A activity. As shippers are suddenly faced with the myriad challenges that comes with integrating disparate systems, having a TMS in place serves as a binding source for systems and data.
I know I need a solution. What now?
TMS solutions have become more robust and powerful over time while also decreasing in price. This has made them more accessible to companies of all sizes, especially given the ability to get them up and running quickly thanks to cloud-based software.
A few questions to consider as you think about which kind of TMS to purchase are: What key pain points am I hoping to address? Do I want a standalone TMS solution or a TMS and a 3PL that can I partner with to manage my logistics needs? And how do I ensure disparate systems are cohesively integrated?
Businesses will commonly implement a TMS to increase supply chain visibility and operational efficiency, integrate disparate and/or legacy systems, optimize costs and have access to detailed analytics and reporting. To achieve these goals, you’ll want a solution that includes the following:
-End-to-end automation and dynamic collaboration so you can seamlessly manage your entire supply network, across all modes;
-Detailed shipment visibility providing insight around pricing and load management to ensure your shipments are delivered on time and on budget;
-Actionable business intelligence and analytics that can provide the immediate insight needed to make better shipping decisions;
-A healthy carrier network of local, regional, and national multimodal carriers to provide services on a shipment-by-shipment basis or dedicated lane opportunities. If you opt for a managed TMS, your provider can help you pinpoint more efficient routes, cost reductions and opportunities to explore new markets versus needing to do that work internally.
As transportation management technology has advanced in recent years, the price of transportation management systems has dropped, offering businesses of all sizes the opportunity to take advantage of the myriad benefits. From providing an unprecedented level of visibility to compelling opportunities for cost savings and increasing operational efficiency, the decision to adopt a TMS in today’s uncertain global trade environment should be an easy one.
Ross Spanier is senior vice president of operations at GlobalTranz, a leading technology and third-party logistics solutions company providing award-winning Transportation Management System (TMS) products to shippers, logistics service providers and carriers.