How to Get More From Your TMS

Q: Capacity is top-of-mind today. How can supply chain partners collaborate around Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to create capacity?

A: There are many ways to collaborate to generate capacity. For example, shippers are increasingly participating in general load boards, tapping into capacity that sometimes flies under the radar. To be successful, they need a TMS that not only manages rates and contracts, but also helps facilitate spot quotes across all the load boards to find capacity.

Another trend in securing capacity is using private load boards. For example, about 1,500 shippers and carriers participate in MercuryGate’s FreightFriend load board. Shippers are increasingly looking at how to collaborate in private communities; carriers benefit by gaining access to customers they might not have.

Shippers are also becoming more collaborative when it comes to sharing rates, which no one wanted to do in the past. But now they understand that sharing rates helps them determine if they are not paying enough in a particular area to generate capacity.

Q: TMS solutions have reached a certain level of acceptance and maturity. What is the next level of achievement?

A: We constantly have to skate toward where the puck is going to be. For instance, shippers are looking for a single platform—a one-stop shop—to manage their supply chains. An efficient TMS enables shippers, lead logistics providers, forwarders, and brokers all to collaborate.

So what’s the next level of achievement? Moving upstream into international trade, and bringing together transportation management solutions and global trade management solutions. For instance, MercuryGate currently offers customs management and international contracting, and we’re continuing to bring traditional international trade pieces into our TMS.

Another level of achievement is using a TMS for contingency planning. If a natural disaster occurs, and a ship doesn’t sail from a port in China, where do shippers re-source from? How do they re-plan that shipment?

Traditional TMS are also bringing fleet management, driver management/pay, high-volume parcel moves, and last-mile routing into their solutions.

Q: What role does TMS play in analyzing data to enhance enterprise transformation?

A: Data plays a key role in transportation and control tower visibility, and decision support among trading partners. A TMS has to manage every piece of data, and quickly, so users can store and retrieve data in the cloud. All partners have to be able to manage the data, know when shipments are at risk, and use it to re-plan in transit.

Q: When using a TMS, what is the biggest value some shippers leave on the table?

A: Shippers leave value on the table when they don’t learn how to fully use a TMS. Vendor support is key. A lot of TMS training focuses on the bells and whistles, but practical application is crucial. Spend some time with your provider so you can learn how to use the TMS in your own environment to drive value.

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