TMS Automation Features: 3 Things to Evaluate

TMS Automation Features

Supply chain automation provides a significant opportunity for maximizing return on investment (ROI) across all supply chain systems. For example, ARC Advisory Group found a typical ROI of implementing a transportation management system (TMS) of approximately 8.5%. However, leveraging TMS automation features can dramatically push that value upward. More importantly, TMS automation features include a full lineup of potential applications, and to make an informed decision, supply chain executives should evaluate these three core areas of the TMS.

Level of Connectivity of TMS Automation Features

The first step in evaluating TMS automation features is the consideration of connectivity between the TMS and existing supply chain systems. The connectivity, more commonly referred to as integration, should include the use of automated data sharing through EDI and API to reduce risk of data loss and maintain data quality. In the supply chain, keeping track of the data and ensuring its shareability is paramount. Fortunately, EDI and API automate the data transfer process, and as a result, they have a significantly lower risk of errors when sharing data, while also promoting efficiencies within your existing processes.

Cloud-Based Capabilities That Scale With Need

Another consideration of TMS automation features focuses on the use of cloud-based computing technologies. Cloud capabilities, using software-as-a-service (SaaS), are widely referenced in modern supply chain management conversations for their ability to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO). According to TechTarget, “running in the cloud has obvious advantages in easing connectivity between TMS users, carriers, customers and supply chain partners. Some TMS vendors try to differentiate themselves by offering single-instance multi-tenant SaaS, which they say has cost and integration advantages over single-tenant SaaS and private-cloud options.”

Cloud computing capabilities allow for rapid expansion and contraction of TMS automation features as software vendors develop new protocols and capabilities. By keeping the system within a cloud environment, software vendors can roll out new automated capabilities without disrupting your supply chain. Furthermore, the cloud is immensely scalable, allowing an organization to increase or decrease the use of the SaaS platform without necessarily seeing a sudden increase in the costs of using the system. Modern enterprises that are high-performing, have a “cloud-first” mentality as the cloud is accessible at all times and immediately provides a means to create a remote-access and -controlled supply chain focused on TMS mobility. Combining the cloud with automation through self-provisioning systems further enhances its appeal as users have a higher rate of adoption, bolstering investment ROI.

Transportation Optimization Capabilities and Intuitive Executions

A final area of consideration in the evaluation of TMS automation features involves the use of intuitive executions and optimization capabilities. This is a fancy way of describing robotics process automation (RPA). RPA refers to the use of advanced systems, including artificial intelligence, to analyze and act upon incoming information without necessarily needing human intervention. The most widely referenced example in RPA includes the use of automated replies to emails via chatbots. However, the advancements in RPA open the door to using insights and data collected through RPA processes to populate data within a TMS and intervene when necessary. RPA has the potential to become a self-intervening capability to propel transportation management to a new level.

Deploy an Automated TMS With the Right Supply Chain Partner

Automated TMS features are no longer nice-to-have functions in the modern supply chain; they are essential to every business that wishes to keep profitability and customer service at the top of their priorities. Ultimately, shippers and logistics service providers need to thoroughly review the automation capabilities within the TMS prior to making a decision. Taking the extra time to consider what can and cannot be automated within a potential TMS provider or software will maximize ROI and generate savings. Reap the rewards of automation sooner rather than later.

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