Q&A: How Using a TMS Can Help You Become a Better Shipper
Do you view your supply chain as a cost center rather than a competitive advantage?
Are you up to your neck in spreadsheets and emails trying to run your supply chain operations?
Is your company’s supply chain data stored in multiple systems spread-out amongst multiple third-party logistics (3PL) providers?
Shippers in today’s truckload market are faced with numerous, daily challenges when it comes to running their logistics operations. Securing capacity, timely billing and accurate tracking are just a few of the many considerations on the minds of shippers like you, who are looking to ensure the bottom line stays in the green. With all these considerations and the supporting data points piling up to validate each one, the question becomes…
How are you managing all this data?
Adopting a transportation management system (TMS) can be the make or break for any shipper seeking an advantage over their competition in the modern truckload industry. Being able to centralize and streamline reporting, forecasting and cost tracking can become a huge leg up for any facility. Not only that, a TMS – when properly leveraged – can help instill better practices by setting KPIs for service levels. However, without proper implementation, all efforts go to waste.
We sat down with Ryan Williams, EU Director of Operations, to discuss the importance of a TMS and how it can play a pivotal role in your supply chain operations.
Coyote Logistics: Why is it important for shippers to invest in a TMS?
Ryan Williams: In today’s digitally-driven environment, data is king. Not just data, but CLEAN data. A TMS enables shippers to consolidate and scrub for inaccuracies in their record keeping. With clean data at your fingertips, the ability to make more informed business decisions becomes an actionable task. More control over your supply chain, and knowing what to measure to drive long-term success, is a powerful advantage over your competitors.
C: What is one of the greatest advantages to having a TMS?
R: Shippers want growth in today’s marketplace and a more proactive focus on long-term success. A comprehensive transportation management system can help you achieve this objective. Tracking costs and related service levels are vital to any shipper who wants to turn their department from a cost center into a competitive, revenue-generating advantage. The ability to calculate costs to forecast against potential growth is a key differentiator for growing shippers.
C: From a capability standpoint, what does a TMS allow shippers to do with collected data?
R: No one can predict the future, but more abundant source data allows for more holistic and accurate projections which ultimately leads to more sound business decisions. Leveraging leading and lagging indicators to bring your operations into a more predictable environment – as it pertains to volume, spend and service – is a big step in the right direction. A TMS enables you to provide better data to your suppliers so they, in turn, can allocate capacity in a more cost-effective and efficient fashion; one that’s going to be malleable to your underlying KPI’s. Lastly, it allows you to hold your suppliers and internal stakeholders accountable for compliance and performance.
C: What metrics can a comprehensive TMS report on to help improve supply chain performance?
R: I could go on and on about reporting, but a few key ones that come to mind are:
- Service (root cause analysis)
- Cost per unit
- Your supply chain vs. the overall market
- Your supply chain vs. industry peers
C: How can a management system help with carrier relationships?
R: Bridging the gap between shippers and carriers can prove to be a daunting task, but with a TMS in place, expectation-setting becomes a more pleasant and consistent conversation. With reports on performance, volume and other tangible indicators you can proactively plan with your carriers to account for market volatility. Furthermore, a TMS enables efficiency and automation, making it easier than ever to become a preferred shipper. Lastly, effective communication and accountability are more effectively promoted with a centralized platform in place.
C: What challenges come with implementing a TMS?
R: Internal change management can be difficult for certain organizations. The key is to have an open mind to change and think about how adoption can make things exponentially better in the future. Short term pain for longer term gain.
Also, if a TMS implementation has failed in the past, the willingness among leadership to try again may be sluggish. If the upfront investment isn’t scary enough then the resources required to invest in a successful implementation – including rolling out associated training – could be enough for some folks to balk. With that said it all comes back to asking, “Is there a better way to manage our supply chain, and if so, how can I get my team on board with committing to the investment?”.
C: How can I get started?
R: There are a lot of TMS offerings on the market now. The best thing to do is research providers and engage with them in a full-blown RFP process to understand their capabilities and expertise relative to your own internal needs.
To help streamline that process talk with Coyote Logistics’ dedicated team about the managed transportation solutions available through our innovative and comprehensive TMS: Collaborative Transportation Management (CTM). Not only is our CTM platform capable of providing complete network visibility and reporting, but a dedicated, account specific team provides both daily operational support, as well as long-term strategic guidance.
To learn more about Coyote Logistics’ customer-focused approach to logistics technology, read our article “How Your Needs Drive Innovation in Supply Chain Technology.”
To start talking with Coyote Logistics’ Operations team about your TMS needs, click here.