Having a robust transportation management system (TMS) that functions as your company’s logistics management hub can speed up operations, reduce waste and improve your bottom line. A TMS will help automate some processes, such as tendering, route and load optimization, carrier management, order visibility, and document storage/retrieval. It will also help aggregate important data to use for future decisions.
A TMS has substantial benefits including saving approximately 8.5 percent on freight costs, according to a report by ARC Advisory Group. Gartner found that companies using a TMS can expect yearly savings anywhere from 5-15 percent. This is well worth the price of implementation, and that doesn’t even consider the amount of time your company will save in employee efficiency.
So now that you know a TMS upgrade is a great investment, how do you begin?
Find a technology provider or solutions expert and ask these questions outlined below.
What to Ask Your TMS Provider
Before deciding on a TMS, it is important to do your research. An effective TMS will provide plenty of data, including freight cost for each unit shipped, overall freight spend, inbound/outbound freight costs, transit time, shipment visibility, carrier/lane performance and more; load, route, freight management and carrier selection optimization; document management, including electronic bills of lading, proof of delivery, contracts and more, and protection against data breaches and cyber-attacks.
1. Is the TMS intuitive and easy to use and upgrade as needed?
This question is so important because the TMS will be essential to your company’s daily operations. You need it to be easy to use, easy to understand and easy to teach to new employees. By ensuring you upgrade to an intuitive system, you save onboarding time and can be back up and running at 100 percent with little to no disruption in your day-to-day business.
Additionally, as technology becomes obsolete and new add-ons are available, the system will need to be updated. Some TMS have automatic software updates while other are manual. Know what you are getting prior to signing the contract and understand how the updates are done, who does them and how long they may take so you can avoid as much downtime as possible.
2. What is your level of customer support?
Again, technology will fail or become obsolete. When this happens to your TMS, you want to be able to connect to the provider’s customer service quickly and with high levels of efficacy. Ask for typical wait times with the customer service department and for customer satisfaction scores/recommendations if available. Also ask about the additional training or resources that are available after your company is successfully onboarded to the system. This can help with new employee training or as a guide when something inevitably comes up.
3. What are your system’s freight bill management capabilities?
Automating freight billing and invoicing is a huge time- and error-saving tool. By ensuring the TMS can do these functions and manage all of the associated documents, your company will create numerous efficiencies. It should also be able to manage different processes for different carriers as the pricing and billing can differ between companies. If the TMS does not have this functionality built in but has everything else you need, ensure it can add a bolt-on from a provider that offers these services (like Banyan Technology).
4. Is your TMS equipped with APIs, or can it integrate with other systems?
APIs help shippers and 3PLs access real-time rate quotes, track shipments, retrieve documents and ease the invoicing process. The automation of these processes saves companies time and money. By ensuring a TMS is equipped with this functionality or has the ability to integrate APIs into the system, your company will receive automatic benefits. Technology and digitization of the transportation industry is the future. Implement APIs now and give your company a competitive edge immediately and put yourself in a great position for continued and future success.
5. Does your TMS have the ability to scale as needed or change with your company’s growth, modes, shipment loads, etc.?
Not only must the TMS fit your existing infrastructure and operations, but it must be built to scale to your future infrastructure and operations. Your company will change shipping load counts, modes, carriers or frequency and your TMS should work smoothly no matter what. Make sure the solution will meet your needs today, tomorrow, six months and six years from now.
Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Transportation Management System?
As FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller puts it, “If you think technology is going away, you’re wrong. It’s just going to become much more important. The reality is that technology is no longer an option.” As such, it is important to stay on the front edge of automation and digitization. One way your company can do that is to upgrade your TMS and integrate APIs into the solution so that your company gets the most out of the technology. The monetary and time savings that your company will realize on the back end will make advancing your technology solutions well worth the cost.
If you have any questions regarding upgrading your TMS or integrating APIs, reach out to the Banyan Technology sales team at 1.844.309.3911.