So You’ve Decided to Invest in a Global TMS – Now What?
The benefits of a Transport Management System (TMS) are well recognized, allowing users to replace separate management systems for their different logistical needs with an end-to-end solution that allows shipments to be booked in just a few clicks, saving vast amounts of time and money. It's no wonder then, that so many companies are moving over to this way of operating for their global air and ocean needs. However, when choosing a TMS, it's important to ensure that it will meet all of your requirements, and while each company's need is unique, there are several features you should look out for.
Complete Supply Chain Visibility
Your TMS should offer end-to-end visibility of your supply chain, allowing you to book, track and trace your shipments all over the world from origin to destination, and easily view all bookings and shipping milestones—ideally with a simple search option to allow you to quickly find what you're looking for. This should also cover visibility of goods at Merge-in-Transit (MIT) facilities, and inbound shipments to ease planning. With goods travelling all over the globe, being able to consolidate them at individual locations and provide visibility to staff offers a solution to what was a huge obstacle under traditional systems.
Having all this information in a singular database will save time, cut costs and increase productivity. In many cases, these databases can be customized for each user, so while all the information is there, an individual's log in will only give them access to the data that corresponds with their unique responsibility.
Real-time Correspondence with Carriers
Of course, for this information to be truly useful it must be updated in real-time. A TMS that's integrated with your carrier will allow both parties to dictate exactly what information is transmitted, so carriers can give rates and complete bookings, sales orders can be imported, and corresponding documents can be edited, cloned, returned and sent to additional parties, all as soon as it happens. It also allows for instant tracking, as soon as bookings occur, so you're always up to speed.
Automating the generation of documentation, such as shipping labels and bills of lading, so that it is produced alongside the shipment removes an additional step in the process, creating a more efficient process that leads to faster, increased on-time and accurate delivery to the final customer.
Ask anyone what the best part of their job is, and it's doubtful that they'll reply with "the paperwork." Reporting is time consuming, and takes resources away from more profitable areas, so a TMS that will create reports automatically from real-time carrier analytics is a much more efficient solution—especially if these reports can be created via subscription to automatically pull the report at timed intervals, delivering a weekly or monthly overview without you having to do a thing. It's also a good idea to make sure reports are customizable and exportable, so they can be distributed straight away.
In addition to these core areas, many 3PL providers are finding new ways to add value to the services they offer, and make their processes more personalized, streamlined and efficient. Rather than an all encompassing solution where you'll be paying for features you don't use, choose a provider that can help you to identify your unique requirements and address those. For example "Hybrid 3PLs'" which by bundling software and shipping solutions are connecting all the dots from vendor to final customer, reduce steps in the process and allow for more concise operation. This highly sophisticated approach provides a truly integrated end-to-end solution that's much more precisely tailored to your individual requirements.