A transportation management system (TMS) is a powerful piece of technology, sitting at the center of your organization's supply chain functions and providing an effective lens on all your data and activities. There is an intense need for these systems because the information associated with transportation contracts and invoices today has reached new heights of scale and speed.
TMS software doesn't exist solely in the world of parcel shipping or freight carrier contracts. Rather, it extends to both sides of the equation, creating a unified logistics management experience that enables easier control.
Whatever your business's unique relationship with supply chain management may be, transportation management systems likely have value to offer, especially when they're designed to address specific pertinent issues, such as transportation spend management.
Why Does Transportation Management Have To Be Digital Today?
Business today moves at digital speed, with a heavy dose of automation. Therefore, to keep up with the pace of your organization's supply chain operations, your TMS software will have to be capable of working at an equal speed and volume.
It's easy to see how organizations could miss important information coming in from freight or parcel carrier invoices or real-time delivery information. The amount and velocity of raw data can be unmanageable when an organization lacks automation or a centralized tech platform to create supply chain visibility and draw insights from the content.
Adding to the potentially overwhelming nature of digital supply chain management, organizations can end up working with multiple carrier partners, both across the parcel and freight categories and within each vertical. Consolidating real-time tracking and performance info from all those multiple carriers, a TMS platform creates a single go-to point of authority.
Beyond dealing with existing contracts, there's a need for digital technology when it's time to assess potential new carrier partners and obtain quotes or when your brand needs to reoptimize its existing contracts. The data analysis that goes into effective contract management demands a high-level commitment to digital operations.
Today's generation of logistics software is powered by cloud computing. This gives your organization the ability to work with a near-unlimited amount of digital resources at reasonable rates while also granting the flexibility to access your system from anywhere, on any device. In an era of digital business, even intensely physical transportation operations demand this level of processing power.
How Can Businesses Tame Their Transportation Data?
The first step to turning your large, unruly amounts of transportation data into a more organized source of value is to unite everything under one centralized system to optimize carrier selection and document automation. This is one of the major TMS platform value propositions — the fact that it can serve as a single source of data truth for both sides of the equation: parcel and freight.
But what can you do with that new unified access to your data? How can you drill down and extract more value from your supply chain operations now that you can exert greater control? Some of the practical applications of a modern TMS include:
- Route optimization for each shipment to ensure it's being carried out in the right mode, with the ideal carrier and the correct service level.
- Managing printing for shipment labels and bills of lading, as well as shipment tracking, all from the same system.
- Interacting directly with carrier systems using API connectivity, ensuring rate data is up-to-date and accurate.
- Performing business intelligence and analytics, delivering actionable insights via reports, widgets, visualizations and dashboards.
- Granting users a top-down view of the whole supply chain, with the ability to focus on various regions, time periods, specific or multiple carriers or even individual shipments.
Taking more control over data and using it to accomplish important tasks is a major source of TMS solution value. Since all the organization's shipping data flows into this system, users can always find what they're looking for, whether they're interested in an overview, a deep dive or anything in between.
Learn how FreightOptics technology fulfills all the primary roles of a TMS.
What Is Transportation Spend Management?
In today's supply chain management environment, there's a concept closely intertwined with TMS use that your organization should investigate — transportation spend management. Simply, this is multi-mode transportation management with a focus on the budgetary side of matters, helping you optimize transportation costs and financial performance.
Transportation spend management is very close to transportation management in its purpose and overall functionality. These are systems based on unifying digital data from all modes of transportation to allow your organization more control over its information and, ultimately, better logistics performance.
Some of the specific tasks associated with transportation spend management include:
- Auditing: By auditing your contracts from either parcel or freight carriers, you can detect potential issues with transportation costs. These might include unclaimed reimbursements, missed service levels or other discrepancies that are costing your organization money from month to month.
- Optimization: Contract renegotiation can be more effective when informed by accurate real-time data. This applies to switching carriers, searching for new carrier partners and renegotiating rates with your company's present freight and parcel companies.
- Analytics: The business intelligence functions associated with transportation spend management can deliver actionable insights about cost optimization. These calculations can target specific scenarios or apply a wide lens to the transportation ecosystem.
- Bill Payments, Claims Management and More: Transactional connections between your organization and your carrier partners, when run through a transportation spend management system, benefit from automation, delivering performance with less effort by your team.
Transportation spend management is a specialized set of practices. They call for a combination of technology and expertise. This means in addition to using industry-leading logistics software solutions, you should make sure your transportation partner is a best-in-class organization capable of delivering an expert supply chain perspective.
See what transportation spend management means for your business.
How Do You Pick the Right Transportation Technology?
When you're purchasing unified technology to unite your freight and parcel shipping operations, there are a few specific traits to look for, whether you're seeking a transportation spend management platform or thinking of a more general transportation management system.
- Scalability: Can your intended platform handle the full scale of your supply chain operations across both freight and parcel carrier contracts? What about real-time data from all your invoices? Will it be able to keep up as your organization grows over time and you expand your transportation operations? The ideal technology solution for you will be able to expand — finding a cloud-based option is the surest way to make sure this flexibility is built in.
- Depth of Analysis: The ideal technology tool for your needs will be able to provide a number of perspectives on data, both through drill-down capabilities and analytics options. Whatever level of detail your users need in their supply chain visibility, and whether they're analyzing freight or parcel operations, there should be an appropriate visualization or dashboard available.
- Automation Functionality: Manual processes slow employees down. Removing these wherever possible and opting instead for automation is the key to modern supply chain operations. The amount and velocity of data flowing through today's companies prevent effective analysis and oversight if your chosen automation solution isn't up to the task.
- A Focus on Transportation Industry Best Practices: Transportation management is a unique part of business operations, and your choice of TMS provider should reflect this. Rather than making a general-purpose software system conform to the needs of your parcel and freight contracts, it's better to work with technology developed by supply chain experts, with companies' logistics needs in mind.
Ideally, refreshing your approach to transportation management is something you'll only have to do once. Finding the right system for your needs means connecting with scalable, flexible technology that will grow alongside your organization and empower your operations for years to come.
Ready to Step Up Your Logistics Technology?
Adopting a powerful new transportation spend management system can mean acquiring all the power of TMS software, along with a focus on budgetary matters that can help you stay competitive. Considering how much of modern budgeting centers around parcel and freight cost optimization, more effective digital management of these operations can be a powerful differentiator.
FreightOptics has become a leading transportation spend management platform — powered by the cloud and capable of delivering a full suite of TMS functionality — due to its creation and development by supply chain experts. Built with a dual focus on logistics best practices and cutting-edge technology, the system can empower your efforts to manage both freight and parcel contracts.
Learn more about FreightOptics and unlock the next chapter for your transportation management.