TMS RFP Questions to Be Sure and Ask

A stack of papers with the title "The Essential TMS RFP Questions to Ask" written on top, and a pen placed on top of them.

This article presents the first steps toward soliciting proposals from TMS providers, as well as a template for TMS RFP questions to consider during evaluations.

Selecting the right TMS can be a massive undertaking for an organization. Whether your company is implementing a TMS for the first time or seeking more functionality over an existing system, the process starts with your TMS RFP. 

First Steps for Starting a TMS RFP

Before you initiate a TMS RFP, it is essential to examine current operations and understand the issues that you need transportation software solutions to solve.

While the pendulum of the freight market swings back to semi-normalcy after massive disruption following the COVID-19 outbreak, there are still numerous market dynamics that impact the supply chain, including:

Understand supply chain and logistics operations

A deep understanding of how your company’s supply chain team operates on a daily basis provides the foundation to a TMS implementation. Knowledge of your operational practices helps guide the rest of the process.

Get clear on the goals for a TMS implementation

Establishing specific goals based on the needs of your supply chain and logistics network helps focus your RFP and identifies the specific TMS features and functionalities that your company requires.

Identify TMS providers with experience and a proven track record

Many transportation management software systems exist in today’s market. Research the best TMS software vendors with experience and a good reputation in advance of an RFP. Using your research to establish a short list of invitees helps ensure a smooth process and a qualified pool of candidates.

Establish clear RFP expectations for TMS vendors

Develop a clear list of expectations for a TMS RFP submission and vendors can focus their efforts and present a concise yet comprehensive proposal. As a result, both you and your potential TMS providers reduce excessive time and resources invested toward developing and evaluating proposals. Also, you streamline the process of selecting the best TMS vendors to move forward in considerations.

TMS RFP Questions to Ask During an Evaluation

A critical component of the TMS RFP process is evaluating the full capabilities of each TMS.
Organize questions into several key categories to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the individual capabilities and TMS benefits of each software solution. Then, define specific, targeted questions within each category to drill into details and narrow down TMS providers you want to pursue for a demo.
Focus questions in the initial evaluation stage around SaaS environments, research and development, and TMS providers’ unique capability features.
Multimodal, SaaS Environment Questions

Are we getting a SaaS multi-tenant environment?

Establish your TMS expectations for a true SaaS multi-tenant environment, where every customer utilizes the same instance of the TMS and releases can be executed quickly. Ask providers how many true multi-tenant SaaS customers they have, and how many they onboarded in the past one, two, or three years.

How many multi-mode international TMS-only customers do you have?

The global supply chain requires multimodal transportation solutions. A TMS should support a fully multimodal model. Ask providers for details on their multi-mode international TMS-only customers to gauge the breadth of their experience and how well they understand your specific pain points and TMS needs.

How many TMS-only customers have been implemented recently into the SaaS platform?

Many TMS providers are SaaS-based technology companies with a suite of business capabilities, but they do not necessarily specialize in TMS. Ask potential providers details on their TMS-only customers so you can understand their awareness of transportation and logistics system operations. Providers that lack industry experience to deliver substantial TMS functionality are exposed quickly.

Research & Development Questions

How many products are competing for R&D at your company?

As mentioned, SaaS-based providers often offer a host of business services under a single umbrella company, only one of which is TMS. Assessing how many other products will be competing for research and development (R&D) dollars can help you understand a software vendors priorities.

What percentage of R&D is spent only on the TMS product? How many releases and updates can we expect in the next year?

R&D spend is critical for evaluating how a provider prioritizes the TMS product. You can determine if they are sufficiently dedicated to improving transportation management functions. TMS providers that invest toward R&D achieve a regularly planned schedule of product releases and updates.

Unique TMS Capability Questions

Are fuel surcharges tied into DOT and EIA updates or do they require manual input?

Fuel price volatility persists and it contributes to cost pressures across the supply chain. Manually monitoring and adjusting weekly surcharges is a tedious and time-consuming task. Confirm that potential TMS providers have the ability to link with DOT/EIA systems and automate fuel surcharge updates, without requiring manual data entry.

Can you get rates with zip to zip within the TMS?

Calculating freight rates quickly and efficiently is a critical component within a TMS software solution. Be sure to clarify the minimum amount of information needed to pull rates. A TMS platform that can rate freight costs using strictly zip codes are preferable. Transportation management software slows processes and create inefficiencies when requiring city, state, and zip.

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Have More Questions about Your TMS RFP?

Before you begin your TMS RFP, map out a comprehensive plan. Download MercuryGate’s TMS Journey Buying Guide eBook today for more useful tips.

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