What to ask when shopping for transportation management systems

Transportation management systems (TMS) are increasingly vital tools for today’s supply chain operations. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global TMS market is expected to expand from $78.2 billion in 2017 to more than $202 billion by 2022 – a surge representing a compound annual growth rate of almost 21 percent. This rapid expansion is being fueled by the growing need among organizations of all sizes for more efficient, reliable and cost-effective movement of goods across supply chains.

How a TMS can make all the difference in your supply chain

What does a TMS actually do in practice? At a minimum, it should offer features such as:

  • Load consolidation
  • Carrier selection
  • Freight auditing and payment
  • Shipment track and trace
  • Global logistics planning (for worldwide supply chains)

These components and others together enable a TMS that can, based on its technical specifications at least, streamline a company’s warehouses, curb its excess inventory and improve its cash flow. According to Inbound Logistics, implementing a properly integrated TMS can even shave 90 percent or more off the average price paid for freight invoices. These items aren’t even evaluated at the many organizations that lack well-defined processes, along with the right tools to support them. That can produce literally millions in savings annually.

However, the ultimate value of any TMS platform will depend in large part on the partner that helps implement it. System integrators help guide TMS implementation projects from start to finish, offering invaluable domain-specific expertise and experience. A successful TMS solution won’t necessarily look the same at Company A as it will at Company B, with a lot of their variance attributable to how each one will address different industry requirements, as well as any shortcomings in existing supply chain management systems.

An experienced integrator is essential with TMS systems.


How TMS system integrators differentiate themselves

IT research firm Gartner has surveyed the TMS integrator landscape in great detail and noted that service providers typically stake their reputations on how they specialize in specific software, geographic regions, verticals or additional services. Let’s look at how you can select the best TMS partner for your situation, by asking the following questions:

1. Do I need a particular TMS product?

Organizations have many options for TMS software. No system integrator specializes in every single one of them, meaning it makes sense to shop for a company with demonstrable results implementing the product you’re most interested in.

For example, Inspirage is an end-to-end Oracle partner ready to guide your implementation of Oracle Transportation Management (OTM). With OTM, you can deliver superior customer service while reducing your overall SCM costs.

2. Does my chosen partner operate only in my region?

Some system integrators have limited operational footprints. However, this limitation could actually be beneficial if the company knows the ins and out of your region and has produced positive results with similar customers.

Meanwhile, larger integrators are likely to have national or even global footprints. Extended presence may be relevant if you are deploying TMS across multiple regions or jurisdictions, so always make sure you’re covered.

3. What modules and process designs are most useful in my industry?

TMS platforms are designed to be generally usable across multiple industries, despite the varying possible use cases from one sector to the next. At the same time, getting the most of a new TMS usually requires some degree of customization.

Configuration and modification are much easier with the assistance of a trusted system integrator. Say you wanted to migrate to OTM in the Cloud, but also needed to maintain a hybrid setup so that one of your on-premises systems could continue processing large freight invoice files for a time. A partner like Inspirage could help you thread this organization-specific needle.

4 Do I require any additional services beyond TMS setup?

Many system integrators do more than simply set you up with new software. They might offer services such as benchmarking, managed services, application maintenance and process outsourcing. Their goal is to ensure your new solution continues to be useful throughout its entire life.

Taking the first steps toward getting better TMS results

Overhauling your approach to essential transportation management tasks will likely require significant changes to both the technologies and processes of your organization. That’s why picking the right system integrator is so important.

Inspirage is a proven, experienced partner in TMS success via our expertise in solutions such as OTM and GTM. Compared to the industry at-large, we have much higher customer satisfaction rates, thanks to our high number of projects that finish on time and under budget. Contact us today to learn more about your options for getting a TMS that works for your organization.

Paul Mathers

Paul Mathers | Key Contributor

Paul Mathers is a Solutions Director, Logistics Management for Inspirage North America. In addition to that domain focus, Paul is working towards expanding our coverage model in the East region, specifically aligning with the Oracle Retail Team. Throughout his career, Paul has been known as a top performing supply chain solution architect and business development resource with proven abilities in Supply Chain and Oracle VCE.