2018 shaped up to be a banner year for TMS Technology. The big winner, cloud-based applications. Acceptance of cloud-based systems is gaining ground with large shippers due to the ease of data integration and normalization of supply chain visibility. Growth of large shippers typically comes with multiple acquisitions and multiple ERP’s. The need for one normalized view of your supply chain has pushed cloud-based TMS into the forefront for larger shippers. In addition, the midsize market has now expanded its ROI statement to include process efficiency, propelling TMS acceptance across all shippers as a required tool to compete in today’s market.
As TMS technology has gained acceptance, so has the interface between user and the technology itself. The vision portrayed by Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report digging into various virtual screens, is a bar TMS user interfaces has not reached. However, it isn’t needed to gain the value a TMS brings to the supply chain. This is primarily due to two focus points of cloud based TMS platforms, data integration and shipment optimization. Importing and extracting data through web services allows for multiple sources to support the shipment execution process. In turn, data collected during the shipment execution process is extracted and mapped back into the ERP allowing for workflow automation. Workflow automation may be triggered that includes freight accrual posting, ASN (Advance Shipment Notice) release and customer invoicing.
The second focus point lies at the heart of TMS applications, the rating engine. The import of sales orders to the TMS triggers automation in the TMS workflow that includes multi modal and multi leg routing scenarios. Automated workflow also removes traditional touch points allowing for higher percentage of routing compliance, low cost routing and improved service performance. Utilization of a TMS for shipment execution will mitigate risk of “tribal knowledge” by using business rules that identify shipper and consignee profiles, shipment characteristics and specifically, available carrier capacity.
Pairing the ease of data flow into a TMS from a shipper’s traditional touch points of carrier selection, tendering and shipment booking being eliminated. In addition, traditional expenses found with system implementations such as help desk, training, and continued support costs are all reduced through workflow automation. The TMS workflow automation eliminates the “user experience” that we have come to regard as the benchmark to measuring technology applications. Imagine triggering a sales order export to a cloud-based TMS that generates carrier routing onto your pick list or sales order that also includes accrual posting. The greatest value is found in compliance. Securing carrier capacity requires a commitment from shipper and carrier alike. Holding up the shipper’s side of the bargain is the awarded volume to the carrier becoming reality.
The vision of Tom Cruise moving through virtual screens in his movie Minority Report is a great visual. However, the vision of eliminating touch points weighs as the more positive experience, being the user experience is managed within the shipper’s system. Not all supply chains are created equal and all have their unique and distinct challenges. The vision to create the perfect order flow that may not be attainable with a single data integration but require multiple data file integrations that accounts for assumptions with the final integration as the “true up” within the process. For deeper discussions on how to remove the “user experience” from your supply chain please reach out to our team.