Keys to Transportation Management System Implementation
Transportation management systems (TMS) are the control center of your transport process. They communicate and track key information in real-time, allowing you to analyze and adjust operations in mere minutes. Needless to say, proper transportation management system implementation is vital.
But a lot of retailers shy away from updating, changing, or employing TMS software since the implementation process can be so lengthy, extensive, and costly.
Furthermore, if you don’t implement your TMS properly, a failure can end up costing you even more resources—and result in a huge bust.
To see success (and a lot of growth), you need to be ready for a TMS before you implement it. So we’re giving you the top five tips that will help ensure your business is prepared for the growth that accompanies a transportation management system.
What is a TMS?
If you’re looking for a little more clarity on what a TMS is, what it does, and what are its benefits, check out the following resources:
- What is a TMS: Transportation management system – the tech every LTL shipper needs
- Why use a TMS: 3 reasons every shipper should use a TMS
- The basics: What is a TMS system? How is it beneficial for shippers?
Define Your Goals for Transportation Management System Implementation
There are a lot of reasons your business can benefit from a TMS, like optimized route planning, controlled inventory management, improved accuracy, reduced invoicing errors, and so much more.
But all of those benefits don’t mean anything if you don’t know how they actually apply to your business. What are you really hoping to gain from a TMS? How will you define “success” after the implementation of your TMS?
Basically, what does your business look like now versus what do you want it to look like in the future, thanks to the TMS? What will it do for you?
We recommend creating a strategic business plan before implementing any new software. This can help you calculate the potential return on investment, create a course of action, and discuss with your stakeholders the long term benefits of the system.
Spend Time Finding the Right TMS Solution
There are a lot of different TMS options out there. Some are good, some are great, and some just aren’t the right fit. Choosing the wrong TMS can end up a total failure, resulting in a loss of resources, money, and time. In some cases, they can even cause more friction in your operations.
So how do you select which TMS will work for you? What should you be looking for with a transport management system?
You don’t just want to select a TMS software that fits with your business today. You want a system that will be able to keep up with your business’s growth and the overall rapidly changing transport industry. How often does this system update, and what is the process for updating? (Hint: Cloud-based servers often have better and easier system updates than server-based ones.)
Does this TMS integrate with the other systems that you have in place? This includes integrating with your enterprise resource planning, your current servers, your distribution and warehouse systems, and more. Will they work seamlessly or will they double the workload on your plate?
You want a system that can make it easy for you to modify, according to your business needs. No two businesses are alike, so your TMS likely won’t look the same as your competitor’s or partner’s.
That’s why Redwood Logistics actually offers web and mobile product development with our TMS offerings. We can help you design and utilize apps and platforms unique to your business. We also offer a consultation for TMS configuration to ensure your system is perfectly designed and leveraged for your unique business’s needs.
Is the system easy to train for and use? Is the user interface attractive and streamlined, or does it feel clunky and old? Remember that your employees will have to use this software, so make it easy and simple enough for them to learn and leverage!
We typically recommend a cloud-based system, as opposed to a server-based one, since it’s much cleaner and easier to access information remotely (wherever internet access is available). Plus, as the Internet of Things connects more and more data points, attaching your TMS in the cloud will be critical to success moving forward.
Get more info on choosing the best cloud-based TMS here.
Involve all Stakeholders
Implementing a TMS is just like any other major organizational change or update, and some people are a little resistant to change. You want everyone to know what’s going on (and get on-board) before the implementation happens, so they’re prepped and excited for the changes. We’ve found that one of the biggest reasons for TMS implementation failure is a lack of understanding or acceptance from people who will have to use the software on a regular basis.
If you’ve already defined your goals and done your due diligence to find the perfect TMS software, then it’s a lot easier to explain to your stakeholders how this TMS will bring major advancements for your business.
Note: A “stakeholder” is anyone who will be impacted by the transportation management system implementation. This includes administration, drivers, operations and logistics employees, managers, partners, associates, and clients.
Prep Your Team for Success
Before you start employing your TMS, all of your stakeholders should have an appropriate action plan. Getting your team excited and prepared will set you up for success:
- Assign a project manager who will oversee the TMS implementation.
- Create a committee that will help manage and organize the implementation. They’ll be the “go to” for training and questions.
- Dedicate additional IT resources to the project. They’ll do a lot of the grunt work and training during the implementation.
- Host meetings with partners and associates to discuss integrations with all systems.
- Create clear methods of communication to keep people updated and involved.
- Acknowledge and plan for potential obstacles or roadblocks.
Follow and Document an Implementation Timeline
The transportation management system implementation process can be 2 months or 2 years, depending on the extent of the software, the integrations, and your team. You don’t want to lose the momentum in the process, which can quickly lead to the downfall of the implementation success.
We recommend creating a reasonable timeline with associated budgeting and action points to keep you on track. Document everything as you go to keep the project organized and moving forward.
It’s a lot easier to follow the plan—if there’s a plan in place!
Are You Ready for Transportation Management System Implementation?
Transportation management system implementation can feel complex, but they don’t have to be complex. With the right decisions and preparation, implementation can be smooth—and you can start reaping the rewards of the TMS in no time.
Redwood Logistics is committed to ensuring your TMS implementation goes smoothly. We help you the entire way, from choosing the right TMS software to integrations and configurations, to short-term and long-term implementation. We deliver on time and on budget, so you can feel good about how your TMS moves you forward.
Learn more about our TMS implementation solutions here.
Want to start the TMS process and get your business the results it deserves? Contact us with your questions and let’s get started!