If you follow any transportation or supply chain publications, blogs, or websites, you probably know there are LOTS of transportation management system (TMS) solutions on the market today. Knowing how to choose the right TMS for your organization’s transportation management journey – that’s not as apparent.
Transportation is viewed as an extremely costly and time-consuming area of the supply chain to manage. Factor in current capacity crisis, rising freight costs, growing consumer demands and other transportation industry trends, and it becomes even more critical for organizations to have the right technology to help efficiently manage their shipping strategies.
And, while more organizations recognize that spreadsheets and manual processes aren’t going to cut it anymore, those organizations are also asking the question: which TMS is the right fit for MY unique requirements?’
How to Choose the Right TMS: Narrowing the Field
Knowing where to start in evaluating and selecting a TMS that meets your unique challenges and requirements can be a daunting task.
There are broad-based TMS solutions available, TMS solutions that support specific segments and specific industries, and there is a dizzying array of features, functionality, and levels of complexity in the many solutions out there. While no two journeys are exactly the same when it comes to determining how to choose the right TMS, it can’t hurt to hear from others who have been down that road. This offers opportunity to learn from their mistakes and successes.
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve outgrown your current system, you should first understand the critical issues driving your need for a TMS solution.
Is your current system not producing the results you need? Is it inefficient to get those results? Is your current system keeping up with your growth? By first having a clear understanding of your business needs, you can make sure you’re not buying more than you need.
Once you determine the issues driving your need for technology, you are better equipped to gather your critical requirements. Make sure that you’re considering the full range of stakeholders in your organization. What do IT’s requirements look like? What about finance and purchasing? You can save yourself a lot of headaches in the purchasing process by aligning everyone in your business who may be impacted by a TMS.
Choose the Right TMS: Accelerate Time to Maximum Value
When it comes to selecting any technology, you don’t have to be in finance to recognize the importance of ROI. “When will the system pay for itself?”
Let’s turn to the experts to understand more on the ROI that a TMS can deliver: the ARC Advisory Group studied the ROI for a TMS and found that ROI is consistently strong and growing.
Most organizations believe that they will realize benefits from transportation technology. But perhaps the pressing question that more organizations are trying to answer: under what circumstances can you achieve maximum return on a TMS investment?
While it’s clear that technology can drive significant financial benefits, technology is only one part of the equation for achieving maximum ROI. Software implementations rarely fail or succeed because of the capabilities of the software itself. Success is most often determined by the plan for implementation and the readiness of the business to take advantage of the new capabilities.
Listen to Experts who Know How to Choose the Right TMS
Once you’ve taken a look inside your organization to identify your critical requirements and determine what ROI looks like for your business, you’re at a good stage to see what’s out there. We’ll mention it again: there are LOTS of TMS solutions available. Many organizations rely on leading industry analysts for helping in knowing how to choose the right TMS. Usually, analysts’ insights support a short list of vendors for further evaluation.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems, and its companion piece Gartner Critical Capabilities for Transportation Management Systems, evaluate leading TMS solutions in the industry. This analysis provides an assessment of each vendor’s strengths and cautions, providing a deep dive into the ever-evolving TMS market.