Adopt an Integrated TMS to Tackle Supply Chain Complexity

Q: Why should I consider a transportation management system (TMS) now?

A: Rates and capacity in all modes will be volatile for months to come. Without the ability to manage rates and carriers, you’ll likely pay more for shipping than you should. Manual tracking or relying on forwarders, brokers, or carriers for updates means you’ll have many surprises when shipments are delayed.

With so much complexity and volatility for the foreseeable future, it’s never been more important to be able to have a holistic view of your supply chain.

Q: What’s the benefit of an integrated TMS?

A: You can use one solution for planning, executing, and analyzing your shipments—both inbound and outbound. Many small to medium shippers still rely on outdated or homegrown systems and processes that may require moving data between spreadsheets and applications and lots of manual inputs. Everything takes longer and is prone to error.

You don’t have deep visibility into rates and the ability to monitor performance in real-time. Many companies don’t realize how much of the process can be automated, allowing their staff to focus on more strategic activities.

Q: How can an integrated TMS impact operations?

A: A TMS uses a single source of data for the entire shipment—inbound shipments start with the purchase order from the ERP as the foundation of the process. You can manage scheduling because an early load can be as much of a problem as a late one. Automated freight audits and payments compare the bill of lading and proof of delivery to ensure they match. Finance can track freight spend in real-time to manage cash flow. There’s much less manual labor, and you have a comprehensive view of your situation for execution and planning. You can manage the process from a single application, and if you use a cloud-based solution, you can do it from anywhere.

Q: How can I use a TMS to uncover better rates and capacity?

A: One of our clients used the spot auction tool to find a cross-Europe rail route instead of an all-ocean move from Asia to the United States. The rate was about half, and the transit was only a week longer, and the ocean move would have been delayed by that much or more anyway.

Q: What if I’m not ready for a full-scale TMS implementation?

A: Look for a solution that allows à la carte selection for the functions you need. Maybe you want to concentrate on outbound execution first or use a spot auction tool to find capacity. You can automate a lot of back-office tasks with freight audits and payments to get started and then expand the use as you get comfortable with the solution.

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