19 Nov 7 Ingredients for a Robust Transportation Management System (TMS)
Faced with challenges such as the rise of e-commerce, dynamic customer demands, rising freight rates and heightened competition, shippers around the world are turning to advanced technological solutions like Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to meet these head-on.
Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, predicts that the TMS market will continue to grow in the coming years as some prominent shippers make their first investments in TMS while other long-term users upgrade to more modern cloud-based solutions with data analytics and transportation optimization features.
An effective TMS can make all the difference for your shipping and logistics operations. But it’s important to realize that not all TMS platforms are created equal. Therefore, in this article, we’ll highlight some essential features and characteristics you must consider when adopting a TMS solution or developing one from scratch so you may get your desired ROI.
However, like always we’ll kick things off with a formal definition.
What is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?
A TMS is a logistics software solution that helps businesses streamline their entire shipping process. According to Gartner, a TMS is used for planning freight movements, doing freight rating and shopping across all modes, choosing the appropriate route and carrier, and managing freight bills and payments.
In essence, it seamlessly brings together various stages of the supply chain to offer users better visibility and enhanced shipping efficiency. This makes it a vital tool for shippers trying to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive world.
With the pleasantries out of the way, here are 7 key features and characteristics that separate the best Transportation Management Systems from the rest.
7 Must-have TMS Features and Characteristics
1. Easy Setup and Operation
A TMS should make your life easier, instead of making it more complicated. With many cloud options to choose from, TMS implementation shouldn’t present much of a challenge, and most users shouldn’t even have to bother with extensive on-premise hardware and setup to get started.
Moreover, your TMS should offer intuitive user interface and experience. This not only ensures that you and your employees get the hang of it with ease but also enjoy using it on a regular basis.
2. Effective Carrier Management
To streamline your shipping processes and ensure timely deliveries, staying on top of all your carriers is crucial. A good TMS brings together all your carriers, across all modes in one convenient location and helps you effectively manage your carrier relationships in a way that a good CRM helps users manage customer relationships.
With all your carriers and their relevant details at your fingertips, you’re guaranteed that you’ll always pick one best equipped to meet your shipment needs and service requirements.
3. Freight Rate Comparison
If you ship frequently, you must have noticed that small differences in freight rates tend to pile up quickly. Therefore, evaluating your shipping options beforehand is essential to ensure you get the most bang for your buck while providing a better freight quote for your customers.
The ideal TMS makes this possible through comparisons of freight rates across different carriers and modes. This feature helps you intelligently identify and pick carriers that offer you the best shipping solution at the lowest price, an ordeal that would otherwise be very time-consuming and error-prone if done manually.
4. Batch Shipping
Sending out shipments in bulk can be a repetitive and rather mundane task. To save you the trouble, a TMS lets you ship orders together into a batch. It takes a group of addresses and assigns a carrier-compliant label for each group before releasing them for fulfillment.
This feature effectively automates a crucial part of your shipping and logistics process and lets you send out multiple shipments in minutes instead of hours, while also cutting down on costs associated with manual labor.
5. Real-time Tracking
This feature makes shipments easier to manage and prevents them from going AWOL by providing increased visibility into each stage of a shipment’s transportation process from pickup to delivery.
Automated alerts and notifications for each stage provided over the web help keep you in the loop about the status of each shipment and let you know if anything’s wrong in real-time. This also saves you countless hours as you don’t have to check status updates manually.
6. Auditing and Reporting
By providing robust and insightful auditing functionalities, an effective TMS leverages all the data at your disposal to analyze your organization’s shipping practices and billing processes. You are provided with a bird’s eye view of all your activities through charts, dashboards, and highly personalized reports. You can leverage these to identify areas of improvement quickly, spot discrepancies, and make more informed decisions in the future to minimize logistical spending and delivery times.
7. Flexibility and Scalability
No two businesses are precisely the same, and each has its own set of unique requirements and challenges. For a TMS to fully helps you with yours, it should allow a reasonable degree of customization besides readily integrating with all the business-critical software (POS, CRM, ERP, WMS, etc.) and carriers you already rely on.
Additionally, you might be a small shipping operation today, but your circumstances may change. A good TMS should be able to cater to your current requirements as well as your future ones. It should grow and scale with your business and easily accommodate new users, locations, and features, without putting a dent in your wallet.
The right TMS helps you make better business decisions, be more productive, reduce operational costs, and ensure customer satisfaction. It does so by providing you improved visibility and insights into your carriers and operations, optimizing and automating critical business processes, and readily adapting to your current and future requirements.
Intagleo Systems has extensive experience in developing and deploying custom TMS and Freight solutions for different industries. If you’re looking to develop the perfect TMS from scratch or need assistance for maintaining your existing product, contact us today and get started with a free consultation. Our experts will be happy to help you.