Major industries all around the world are adapting their business processes to fit an increasingly digital future. The transportation sector is no exception, particularly when it comes to the use of paper records. For many companies, paper logs are already an anachronistic relic of the past. They’ve been replaced by digital data systems and sophisticated transportation management software.
If you want to grow your business in 2020, you should invest in transportation management software. However, it’s just as important to realize this software has limitations. It can streamline internal processes, free up administrative workloads and vastly reduce errors but it can’t calculate the best course of action in all scenarios.
This article takes a closer look at some of the challenges associated with transportation management software.
Lack of Customization
One of the biggest problems associated with mainstream transportation management software is a lack of customization. No matter which software product you choose, it isn’t going to be a perfect fit for the unique needs of your business. ‘Off the shelf’ systems are efficient almost all of the time. They just can’t account for the unexpected.
Transportation management companies deal with thousands of potential possibilities every day, many of which are out of their control. Unfortunately, if a situation hasn’t been flagged and planned for as a possibility in advance, off the shelf software will struggle to cope. It isn’t designed to be a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The Need for Tailored Solutions
It’s worth noting how old fashioned it can seem for businesses to use a single centralized platform for all their internal processes. In some cases, it works well because it brings disparate workloads together into one easily managed data stream. Yet, not every process benefits from a combined approach.
Email and accounting clients, for example, require the same technical processes but very different approaches. Transportation management software, though essential in many ways, cannot cover all bases. It often can’t function as a strategy tool for last-minute cargo movements or manage things like preventative maintenance.
Low Compatibility with SCMS and ERP
You should also be aware of compatibility issues between transportation management software and supply chain management software (SCMP) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It doesn’t integrate smoothly with either of these software solutions so the degree of data synchronization you’re expecting may not be possible.
Depending on your choice of transport software, you may encounter issues with interoperability, inflexibility, and scalability. In other words, you’ll likely need to add extra (sometimes duplicate) systems and tools to plug the gaps and manage areas your management software doesn’t extend to.
Why It’s Not Perfect but It Is Necessary
Despite all of these limitations, we want to reiterate the importance of transportation management software. It’s not perfect but it’s a vital stepping-stone in the journey towards a paperless future. Plus, it’s improving all the time. We just want to stress the importance of, right now, using multiple solutions to ensure success in every situation.
Getting to Grips with Transportation Management Software
There is a subtle but important distinction between transportation management software and a transportation management system. The former makes the latter possible, but it is not essential for it. The system encompasses the routines and strategies used to complete transportation jobs successfully. Software can be used to streamline these routines.
Both are integral to the management of shipping and logistics operations and must combine both with internal supply chains. When employed correctly, transportation management software can add visibility and make it easier to track and monitor these operations. It gives fleet owners, shippers, and providers more insight into movements within the supply chain.
TM software can computerize the flow of data created by shipping logistics and, thus, offer businesses greater control over logistical decisions. Whether using forecasting tools to map better routes, tracking shipments in real time or digitizing compliance and billing processes, the biggest advantage of this software is being able to track performance at any stage of the transportation management journey.
The Road to Bigger and Better Management Software
There are some issues to be wary of when using transportation management software. However, it’s also true these platforms are improving in scope and compatibility. Within the last three years, mainstream options have evolved significantly. Cloud based solutions are growing in popularity and giving more choice to smaller businesses.
Cloud-based software is a particularly good choice for rapidly growing companies as it is compatible with various types of transportation such as fleet, small parcel, and LTL. With that being said, we don’t recommend complete reliance on software of this kind just yet. Invest in it, become skilled in its use but cover all your bases.
Don’t assume investment in a transportation management platform is all you need to beat smaller market rivals. Now it’s considered the future of the industry, it’s become a staple for transportation companies and, once again, you’ve got to use it as a tool and not a quick fix to really see impressive results.
Other Management Software and System Resources You Need to Consider
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)
This type of software is responsible for collating information relating to transport maintenance (truck repairs, vehicle purchases, etc.)
Yard Management System (YMS)
YMS software monitors transportation movements. It tracks the journeys of all trucks and trailers whether they’re heading to distribution outlets or returning to the warehouse.
Supply Chain Management (SCM)
Supply Chain Management is an umbrella term used to describe digital platforms which deal with supply chain planning, product lifecycle management and other related processes. Often, businesses use a series of integrated solutions to track product lifecycles from early manufacturing to final delivery.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Like SCM solutions, enterprise resource planning software is commonly made up of multiple compatible platforms. When employed correctly, it can have a dramatic impact on the efficiency of internal communications and give managers greater insight into specific branches of the product journey.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
This type of software is used to manage and monitor marketing, sales, prospects and all interconnected processes. It plays a vital role in team communications and enables system managers to track customer relationships from inception to completion (and repetition).
Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
This type of software focuses on inventory movements and decisions made within the warehouse. When used correctly, it can greatly benefit businesses by reducing errors, decreasing inventory waste and speeding up the time between manufacturing and delivery.