July 2014 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

SaaS TMS Facilitates Carrier Management

Tags: Logistics I.T., Trucking, Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Partnership

Eric Meister is Chief Operating Officer, LeanLogistics, 866-584-7280

Q: How can shippers navigate today's tight capacity market?

A: For companies to have the assurance of consistent, competitively priced, service-oriented capacity through the ups and downs of the transportation marketplace, being a shipper of choice is imperative. Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Go beyond rates. Best practice suggests taking a multi-tiered approach to secure carriers, using various types depending on network needs. Focus on carriers with the best mix of service and rates for the region. Create a matrix of tiers, defining expectations concerning on-time performance, tender acceptance, and rate competitiveness.
  2. Know your business. Start by understanding lane volumes, and the carriers that currently serve those lanes. Determine which carriers meet service levels, and how adjustments can be made when they fail to comply. By using the tiered approach, you gain flexibility in how you manage the trade-offs between cost and service, setting specific expectations for carriers.
  3. Bring the carrier into the conversation. Articulate the relationship between price, service, and the business you will award. The same carrier may have varying roles in your network based on its service capabilities and your business requirements. Carriers need to understand how their performance affects the business you award them. Regularly scheduled metric-based discussions with carriers drive continuous improvement and facilitate a focus on future business needs.

Q: What should shippers evaluate in next-generation transportation technologies?

A: There is the opportunity to improve service and performance with Web-based transportation management systems (TMS). Buzzwords—such as cloud-based, cloud computing, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)—can easily be used interchangeably during the sales process, but what are the real differences among these technologies?

Cloud-based: Many cloud-based solutions offer storage and infrastructure as a service accessible through the Internet. In many cases, the cloud can be viewed as the technology infrastructure that occurs outside of your company's network.

Cloud computing: Cloud computing uses the processing power of connected servers across the cloud. These resources are leveraged across many users to provide scalability and cost efficiencies.

SaaS: The term Software-as-a-Service refers to the ability to offer Web-based applications as a service. The service provider assumes the responsibility for developing and maintaining both the hardware and software infrastructures required to deliver the technology, freeing customers to focus on other areas of their business. This reduces total cost of ownership, because hardware and software maintenance is not a concern.

So what is the best solution? A true SaaS TMS solution allows shippers, carriers, suppliers, and consignees to access best-in-class technology to conduct business on a single platform. Having a large network of partners on one platform executing transactions with a similar business process creates efficiencies that standalone applications cannot provide.