Advice for Transportation Departments on Gaining Corporate IT Buy-in for TMS Solutions
Q: What pushback should transportation leaders anticipate from IT when proposing a TMS implementation?
A: Corporate IT departments are frequently ambivalent about cooperating; sometimes even actively working to undercut the proposed initiative because there's a perception that any new enterprise software deployment adds significantly to IT's workload during implementation, integration, and thereafter with respect to maintenance, training, and support.
Q: You're suggesting these concerns are unfounded?
A: Yes and no. Some TMS solutions require significant effort from the customer's IT department to deploy and maintain. The distinction is between on-premise solutions and Software as a Service (SaaS) or "cloud" solutions. IT departments are typically stretched thin and adding another on-premise solution—with the hardware maintenance and user support burden involved—means more work and responsibility. Conversely, a cloud-based TMS from a reputable provider requires very little time or effort of an IT department.
Q: Why does a cloud TMS require so much less attention from the customer's IT department?
A: The SaaS model TMS is hosted on servers owned and maintained by the TMS solution provider so there's no server (or any other hardware) configuration or maintenance required of the customer. The only thing IT has to ensure is that logistics users have a current web browser like Firefox or Chrome installed on their desktops/laptops/tablets. Any system/user configurations are handled by the solution provider.
Scaling up or down, adding or removing users, configuring permissions, and most other tasks are also handled by the provider. So is user support like resetting passwords and all other typical help-desk support. Further, user training is not something IT has to manage. That, too, is done by the provider.
Q: Aren't integrations for a new TMS labor intensive for IT?
A: Not for today's leading SaaS TMS offerings. Remember, contemporary cloud solutions are built using Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA is a software design strategy for simplifying integration across all systems. Cumbersome legacy integration protocols are replaced with web-services platforms that connect systems via APIs for faster, standardized integration. Modern web services employ powerful data encryption to ensure data security.
Don't be misled by IT's suggestion that integration is an obstacle stopping you from selecting a real Transportation Management System, instead settling for a limited logistics tool bolted on to an ERP solution.