Four Tips for TMS Buyers - WSI
Shippers and intermediaries of all sizes can benefit greatly from the increased functionality and simplified processes offered by a transportation management system.
Transportation management software was once considered a solution for gigantic retailers or large CPG brands, but that's no longer the case. Shippers and intermediaries of all sizes can benefit greatly from the increased functionality and simplified processes offered by a transportation management system (TMS).
What to Look for in a TMS
Here are four factors to consider when shopping for a TMS:
1. Cost. Prices between TMS solutions run a wide range and account for a variety of factors. Some may want a flat fee while others will have recurring or cost-per-transaction models. Go into your search knowing what services you need and what you can afford.
Keep in mind that you shouldn't have to go broke on the upfront investment. The days of on-site legacy supply chain solutions are behind us. It's no longer worth investing in large, upfront hardware investments and software customizations for a TMS when Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service subscriptions can offer the same options at a fraction of the price.
2. Functionality. The question of functionality is a loaded one. You can't just account for what you need right now, but also what you expect to need over the next few years. The biggest advantage of modern Cloud-hosted solutions is that they can grow with you.
If you have other B2B software, then you must be sure that your new TMS will integrate properly with those solutions. The best software will also be wholly customizable, because every operation has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies that need to be accounted for. As far as the basics go, however, you'll also want to make sure that you can track carrier performance, access the best real-time rates, have real-time visibility of your shipments, and access carriers within all the transportation modes that you use.
3. Implementation. You're not shopping for a TMS because you want to streamline transportation operations next year. If you're looking for a new TMS, you're likely already having problems and want a solution as soon as possible.
Make sure that you choose a provider that can offer full implementation in weeks or months. There's no sense in risking operational downtime on something that's supposed to be streamlining your operation. A quality TMS provider will have the expertise to integrate their solution as quickly as possible.
4. Customer service. The best products in the world aren't worth anything at all if they aren't supported by a great team. Your software provider shouldn't just be that vendor you buy solutions from now and then—they should be a partner. When you invest in a solution from a true partner, that partner will invest in you in return by always being there to answer questions, address problems, or tweak the solution as needed.
Ask around about the software vendors you're considering. Look for case studies and online reviews. Make sure you won't be forgotten among larger competitors or swindled into buying upgrades or services you don't need.
Shippers are currently faced with tight capacity across modes. Without a state-of-the-art TMS to provide up-to-the-minute information on carrier availability and rates, shippers and logistics providers alike may find themselves struggling to manage transportation budgets and functions.