How to Choose a TMS Vendor That’s Right for Your Company
Q: What are some important things to consider when selecting a TMS solution?
A: Deploying a Transportation Management System (TMS) can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Fortunately, this does not need to be true, thanks to systems with a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model, which help you navigate the process of selecting and deploying a TMS solution in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional solutions.
Frequently, enterprise-wide TMS are identified as the most needed add-on module to established ERP and WMS deployments. While enterprise TMS solutions are an option, realizing quick ROI greatly depends on the delivery model. A cloud-based solution beats the legacy deployment methods by an order of magnitude. Deployment time is measured in weeks rather than months or years. Cost is predictable, with a monthly subscription versus millions in capital expenses.
With the SaaS delivery model, the vendor manages the hardware, infrastructure, software, tools, and personnel. Upgrades are seamless, and there is no need to schedule deployment windows to support upgrades, fixes, and patches.
In addition, there is no concern about who on your team will work with the added servers, databases, tools, and network connections and whether or not they have the right skills for the task.
Because integration with existing systems is important, select a vendor with proven experience in quickly integrating with leading ERP or WMS systems. This requires an open system architecture that supports multiple data formats including XML, EDI, and Web Services.
The next significant integration criterion is the scope of carrier connectivity. The higher the number of carriers familiar with the solution you are evaluating, the easier it will be to establish data links between your TMS and your carriers.
Consider these features in the evaluation checklist:
- Open architecture to enable accelerated data mapping
- Support multiple integration options including XML, EDI and Web Services
- Proven record integration with commercially available ERP or WMS
- Growing integrated carrier network
- Ad hoc, real-time reporting
- Cloud computing capabilities
- Security, redundancy, reliability, scalability
- Support for all pertinent modes of transportation
Q: How long should deployment take?
A:Once you have decided on a cloud solution, narrow your list down further by looking for a vendor with repeatable processes that get their customers online quickly and smoothly.
A three-month deployment window should be your benchmark. A short and efficient implementation process means you can start realizing the return on your TMS investment sooner than later. Implementation best practices include:
- Pre-filled forms to guide requirements gathering and configuration
- Experienced deployment team with domain expertise
- Regular stakeholder check-in meetings
Rapidly realize ROI (in some cases, 10-12 weeks) with a short deployment cycle, savings in hardware, tools, and personnel.