During the past 20 years, I’ve seen logistics technology evolve significantly. A TMS login has become a powerful portal for improving transportation cost control. Accessing the technology is just the beginning of the work. In fact, while I’ve seen client shippers deploy TMS to enhance productivity and streamline transportation procurement, I also know that without an expert team supporting your TMS, you may be creating more challenges than you are solving.
TMS Power Relies on Complete, Accurate Information
Many of the TMS solutions we see today depend on Application Programming Interface (API) connections.
API enables the quick transfer of information between you and your carrier partner. It relies on rate information being loaded correctly from your current agreements. Remember, if the rate information going into your TMS isn’t right, optimal routing selections automated by your TMS may not be either.
Managing and administrating your own contracts, especially if you are working with dozens of providers, can become a burden. It creates additional layers of workflow from the moment you begin a bid event until you are monitoring compliance on the back end.
Our freight management technology is backed by contract administration with transportation providers. This solution helps you:
- Secure the most market-competitive rates to move your unique shipment.
- Aggregate rates across all your service providers.
- Upload your rates with your carriers into your TMS instance.
Every time you log in, you access your rate table with accurate information from the optimal carriers for your shipment.
An effective TMS needs to be able to set its scope outside your contracted rates, too. Keeping an informed eye on spot market pricing offers additional flexibility to improve transportation cost and/or service. In today’s environment, we’re talking to a lot of shippers who are seeking visibility to rates across truckload, less-than-load (LTL) and small parcel. Multi-modal options are essential during fluctuations in capacity and network disruptions.
We all know these market dynamics are a common part of freight management. So are the corrections I’ve seen following sharp pendulum swings in cost and capacity. Since I joined Transportation Insight in 2006 as director of truckload procurement and outsourced execution, we’ve helped our shipper clients secure capacity, manage costs and serve their customers through a few of those business cycles.
Downstream TMS Data Fuels Corrective Action
TMS speed and automation are important to modern freight management. Business intelligence is, too. Does your TMS solution depend on strict downstream audit processes?
Many of the TMS solutions accessible to small- and mid-cap shippers rely on match-based audit. When the cost of a shipment does not mirror your established thresholds approved for payment, you should expect to be notified and tasked with resolving the refund.
Obviously, this creates additional workflow. More importantly, it also misses opportunities that arise during an audit of every invoice against a contract on file. Without a freight audit function that is driving efficiency with resolution, you may experience the same errors over and over. You could be losing money on every shipment. At the same time, it gets harder to determine whether the TMS tool you deploy is really achieving the outcomes you are seeking.
As we apply a load-by-load or shipment-by-shipment audit, depending on the transportation mode, Transportation Insight works to resolve problems and support corrective action. We compare invoicing back to the current contracts, validate for accuracy and handle any communications with the carrier on our clients’ behalf. I do not want to ask our clients to pay a recurring, incorrect amount to a carrier. I would rather work through a financial settlement process that includes sustainable corrective action – in addition to collecting a refund. That benefits our shipper clients, as well as their trusted service providers.
TMS Expectation After Login: Visibility, Control
The purpose of a TMS is to get as much visibility and control as possible, while accessing the full freight movement capabilities of multiple transportation modes. I believe a TMS should empower you to make critical decisions and pull levers to move freight from one mode to another. Utilize truckload, LTL or parcel depending on which makes the most sense based your shipment and the current transportation environment.
Working with thousands of shippers throughout my career, I’ve learned that there are things you need to support a TMS to get the most out of the technology. Your TMS allows you to execute transportation procurement and automate the right routing to move your freight efficiently. Do you have compliance and measurement components on the back end to make sure your transportation strategy achieves your goals?
With Transportation Insight’s TMS, we provide you with support for transportation procurement and contract management. We also deploy the solution you need to automate and standardize the process for loads and tenders to carriers. Then we deliver downstream visibility through our technology platform.
By collecting data from your TMS application and coupling it with data elements harvested from freight invoicing, you develop a much deeper understanding of trends and how they are affecting your transportation costs. Ultimately, that’s a primary goal any time we set out to help a manufacturer, retailer or distributor improve their freight management.
For many shippers we encounter, this solution provides much better control, standardization and scalability. It also empowers you to compete with larger, more sophisticated shippers that have the scale to invest capital in a more cost-intensive transportation management system.
At the same time, it is important to me that our transportation management offerings allow our customers to maintain as much control within their carrier network as they wish. By providing the tools utilized by larger shippers in an environment where you retain the power to decide, Transportation Insight gives you more than a TMS login. We help you achieve a competitive advantage.
Turning your TMS Login into a Cure-All
Many of the companies I have worked with over the years initially think a TMS will be a cure-all to existing challenges. Keep in mind there are considerations beyond the technology, including processes, utilization and support. When Transportation Insight designs and deploys solutions for our customers, we do that with those considerations in full focus.
We can provide guidance that can help you determine how logistics technology fits into your transportation strategy.
- Which TMS is right for your business?
- When is the right time to implement a TMS?
- How can you get maximum value from your TMS investment?
If you are considering a TMS or looking for ways to optimize the return on your current investment, this webinar provides useful guidance. To continue the conversation, contact our team today.