Paper logs are a thing of the past—if your transportation company wants to remain competitive with others, you will have to evolve. At this stage in the game, it is absolutely mandatory that a company uses a digital platform to run their shipping business. The majority of shipping and logistics companies use transportation software (TMS) because of this requirement.
However, unfortunately, you cannot rely solely on TMS, as they are limited in their applications. Transportation companies, due to the nature of their work, push against these limits sooner or later, as they attempt to cut their costs, increase efficiencies, gain traction over their competition as they increase in numbers.
One of the reasons that TMS is extremely limited is because you are essentially buying software “off the shelf” e.g. there is no way that you can get that software customized to your business. This is true whether the TMS software is packaged in a standalone app or an SaaS. Make no mistake, these TMS apps can get the job done well–but when transportation companies come up against unique situations and need unique solutions for their last-mile deliveries, generally these apps can’t deliver. TMS apps were not designed to be a one size fits all problem solver in the slightest.
What some don’t consider is that transportation companies have to use different apps for different processes and challenges that they face, the same as any small business. At one point in time, TMS might have been considered the greatest, the only digital platform that any transportation business would need to use for their business. However, that is no longer the case. No longer will businesses use the same program to do both their accounting and email clients. TMS cannot function as a last-ditch effort to distribute cargo or schedule a time for preventative maintenance.
What is also increasingly evident is that TMS does not have the functionalities that transportation companies are asking for and are needing, as well as the fact that TMS tends not to integrate well with SCMS (supply chain management software) and ERP systems. They are not flexible, cannot be extended or are convincingly interoperable with other systems, to combine data that the transportation company and their client needs in order to make the best decision possible for all parties involved.
Solutions with TMS are also not made with the idea of full visibility for the supply chain. In this case, managers might be able to access full visibility over the entire operation, but lack specific information to share with the rest of the employees in order to enhance their performance. There is an increasingly widening gap between the services that TMS delivers, and what managers need to increase the efficacy of their performances and services rendered.
Don’t get us wrong–a TMS system is absolutely needed by transportation companies today. But now it is time to look beyond the TMS system as the end all, be all system, and use all data that is gathered to its fullest potential. Companies that do this will increase their visibility to not only their competitors, but clients as well, and have all the tools and information needed to make the best decision.
Transportation Management Software
Transportation management software (TMS) has seemingly become intertwined with the same purpose and intent as a transportation management system. However, their main purpose is to manage the shipping and logistics operations with the company’s supply chain. TMS provides visibility for logistic service providers, shippers, and fleet owners.
TMS became a popular software to use, as it automated the flow of information within shipping logistics to help improve the decision making process. This app uses the company’s data to make informed decisions related to costs, forecasting inventory, and route planning. This technology helps managers plan, implement, and handle administrative duties such as compliance and billing. It also helps logistics and transportation companies monitor and track their shipments, whether it’s bound for a client or coming to their warehouse–this technology will help them decide the best routes and estimate the rates it will cost to ship for every shipment.
A well used TMS system will help make your supply train more transparent, dissolve silos between stakeholders, shippers, and carriers, reduce miscommunication, and essentially encourage a great working environment between everyone involved in the process. An extra bonus is that managers now have more information that helps inform their decisions for the greater good.
The TMS system solutions have improved, even from two or three years ago–they work faster, are even more mature, are cloud-based particularly as the years have continued, and have become more accessible even to smaller and mid-sized companies. The software allows several different types of transportation to be taken into consideration (small parcel, LTL, and fleet). However, as time goes on these same companies are seeing that they have need of functionalities that are out of the scope of TMS.
Issues with TMS
TMS software is amazing when it is only used for its intended purpose–however, the problems come in when people expect it to be the solution to every issue or problem that they face. This technology is not capable of integrating every single data source it is given, and cannot deliver complete visibility every time under those circumstances. This is a huge problem because companies have a wide variety of data sources they can get information from, including:
Enterprise asset management (EAM): collects data on the physical maintenance of assets e.g. trailers and trucks
Yard Management System (YMS): oversees the movements of trailers and trucks, whether they are going to a warehouse or a distribution center
Supply Chain Management (SCM): a series of software solutions that integrates product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain planning (SCP), and various other solutions to bring a product from manufacturing to delivery
Enterprise resource planning (ERP): this software integrates several sources of applications, in order to streamline the information to share between teams and is at one of the highest functioning levels of the organization software. At the bare minimum, TMS has to cooperate with ERP.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): manages marketing, sales, prospects, and any other task connected to it.
Warehouse management system (WMS): controls operations in the warehouse, including the management of inventory
Just because you have a TMS system, does not mean you are automatically ahead of your competitors. Nowadays, that is the bare minimum of technology that you need to be a decently successful transportation company. Now is the time to look beyond the TMS. Doing this means offering better visibility and communication to everyone–which will increase efficiency and sales.
Improving Your TMS System
When you decide on a new system, it cannot be the same old, same old. Go for a transportation management solution that does not rely on traditional methods to solve problems. Situational awareness platforms can be the solution to your problem–as they act as a force multiplier, which makes your data increasingly more valuable and useful instantly.