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Corey BrincksSenior Product Marketing Manager, FourKites

Selecting a Transportation Management System (TMS) is a pivotal decision for any supply chain professional. A strong TMS configuration not only streamlines your logistics performance, but also drives cost savings and customer satisfaction. Here’s how to choose a TMS that aligns perfectly with your supply chain needs:

Key Features to Look For in a TMS

Identifying the essential features and those that are nice to have can greatly influence your decision-making process. Let’s start by focusing on the must-haves:

Essential Features:

  • Shipment Planning and Execution: This allows you to create, manage, and optimize shipment routes, schedules, and modes of transportation.
  • Carrier Selection: Automates the process of selecting carriers based on pre-negotiated bids using routing guide functionality with pre-built logic.
  • Integrations with Other Technologies: Integration with Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, and real-time transportation visibility platforms (RTTVP) is essential for seamless logistics management.
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting: Data is king in logistics. Ensure your TMS provides in-depth data and analytics regarding logistics performance.

Nice-to-Have Features:

  • Compliance Management: Helps in navigating through regulations such as customs regulations, trade compliance, and hazardous material handling.
  • Document Generation: Assists with creating standard shipping documents for inbound vendors.
  • Mobile Access: Enables transportation managers and drivers to access information and real-time communication through mobile devices.

Tips for Narrowing Down TMS Choices

When you’re bombarded with options, it’s essential to have a systematic approach to narrowing down your choices:

  • Identify and prioritize your specific transportation and logistics needs for each of the following 5 categories:
    • Order Management
    • Planning and Optimization
    • Carrier Selection and Routing Guide
    • Freight Audit & Payment
    • Analytics and Process Efficiency
  • Consider your shipping volume, types of products, transportation modes, carrier relationships, and any other requirements that are unique to your business.
  • Evaluate the implementation, support services, and training provided by the TMS vendor. Look for comprehensive training, clear standards for customer support, and assistance with system integration.
  • Assess the user-friendliness of the TMS software. Can you easily complete tasks and find the information you need?
  • Evaluate the scalability of the TMS solution, including geographical and mode expansion capabilities.

Picking the Best-Fit TMS

Once you have shortlisted potential options, you need to ascertain which TMS aligns best with your supply chain:

  • Provide vendors with a detailed diagram of your network, volumes, modes, and challenges, and let them demonstrate how their solution would address your requirements.
  • Be cautious of relying solely on standard industry evaluations like the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Your unique needs, timeline, and budget may align with a provider that doesn’t meet the Magic Quadrant criteria.
  • Focus your evaluation on determining which providers have a proven track record of servicing other customers that share your specific needs and networks.

Quick Tips for Deploying a TMS

Before you take the leap, here’s what you need to keep in mind for a smooth TMS deployment:

  • Develop a detailed deployment plan with clear goals, timelines, and resource allocations.
  • Assign a dedicated project owner and establish a steering committee or project management organization for the TMS implementation.
  • Speak with references from companies with similar networks and challenges.
  • Don’t underestimate change management and ensure comprehensive training for all relevant team members.
  • Define what a successful implementation will achieve and measure those metrics to monitor the effectiveness of the TMS. Metrics could include on-time delivery, carrier performance, and cost savings.
  • Leave some room for the unexpected in your budget. Allocate funds for implementation service overages and consulting fees for network optimization as you discover opportunities to maximize value from your TMS during implementation.

Real-time Visibility: The Secret Ingredient for TMS Optimization

Modern supply chains need more capability than what a TMS alone can provide. FourKites is a game-changer when optimizing your new TMS.

Here’s how supply chains with TMS-FourKites integration outperform their competition:

  • Rapid TMS Parameter Optimization: Optimizing TMS rules and parameters is faster, easier, and more effective when customers are equipped with comprehensive data and insights into delivery windows, transit times, and route planning trends.
  • Data-driven Tendering: Extensive and real-time carrier performance data ensures that each tendering decision is based on the best available information.
  • Unparalleled Customer Satisfaction: With the ability to share up-to-the-minute data for every shipment with your customer, communicating accurate tracking information is effortless and never falls through the cracks.

The Value of Implementing FourKites and a TMS Simultaneously

Implementing FourKites and a TMS simultaneously is easier and less expensive than doing them separately. Here are three opportunities your organization can seize through simultaneous implementation:

1. Maximize Cost Savings

Implementing FourKites alongside a TMS can maximize cost savings by avoiding additional fees from the TMS provider to reconfigure the system to receive real-time data later on. By implementing both solutions concurrently, customers can avoid double work and save tens of thousands of dollars in reconfiguration costs.

2. Simplify IT Implementation and Training

Simultaneously implementing a TMS and FourKites results in a streamlined IT implementation process for your organization. FourKites requires minimal IT resources thanks to out-of-the-box compatibility with over 100 TMS platforms. As a result, customers can align the go-live of FourKites with the TMS implementation, simplifying training and ensuring a smooth deployment.

3. Immediately Maximize ROI From Your New TMS

A new TMS without FourKites leaves opportunities on the table. By implementing both products simultaneously, customers not only avoid additional implementation fees but gain access to insights that accelerate TMS optimization, enable data-driven tendering and automate track and trace service with customers.

Selecting the right TMS is an indispensable step in enhancing your supply chain’s efficacy and realizing substantial cost savings. By identifying the key features, aligning them with your specific needs, and ensuring scalability and user-friendliness, you can make an informed decision. Additionally, integrating a TMS with real-time visibility platforms empowers you to harness data for continuous improvement and maximized ROI.

As you embark on this critical journey, keep in mind that meticulous planning, diligent evaluation, effective change management and comprehensive training are paramount for successful deployment.

Want to learn more about how end-to-end, real-time supply chain visibility can help you get the most out of your TMS? We’d love to show you.

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