As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.
Three tips for implementing a new TMS system.
When freight forwarders decide to implement a new transportation management system (TMS), they need to set important guideposts for the project. This is because they often encounter fear of the enormity of the task and respect for the requisite knowledge, which is usually concentrated among too few people, creating knowledge monopolies.
My three most important tips for successfully implementing a new TMS system:
- Scrutinise and improve your own processes
- Select open systems with application programming interfaces (API)
- Separate out technical issues and use the TMS for core processes
These recommendations set you up for success and help you avoid mistakes that can cause a project to fail.
Putting processes to the test
You cannot expect to do the same thing over and over again and get different outcomes each time. When implementing a new TMS, that means all processes have to be checked against project objectives. Simply using different software will not make the old processes more efficient, and simply replacing them will not generate benefits that will pay for the investment. So if you implement new solutions, you also need new processes. The processes should be as easy to automate as possible and run with maximum efficiency. They should also be defined with input from all the employees who will be using them in future. The employees' involvement will dramatically increase acceptance of the new definition. It also increases the odds that replacing the TMS with a completely re-engineered system will have the intended result.
Best of breed for every task
It is hard to replace a TMS that covers all areas of your business. That is why the next key recommendation is to initially replace individual sub-processes with microservices. This approach serves two purposes: it eases the transition because individual processes can be outsourced and optimised separately. The freight forwarder can then find individual solutions that excel at each task using a best-of-breed approach. They can be integrated into the overall process by exchanging files via FTP, for example. This approach increases the number of viable TMSs that a company can choose because all they have to do is support the core processes effectively. Monolithic systems for managing transports are a thing of the past. Order management solutions no longer need to be capable of handling every possible issue. In today's fast-moving market, it would take far too long to program such expansive software and simultaneously keep up with the pace and progress of technological change. The more processes, such as automatic notification or order entry, are supported by individual microservices, the easier it is to replace the TMS as the core system.
Future proof through integration capability
To use microservices, a new TMS needs versatile open interfaces, especially an API. The API makes it particularly easy to integrate various services into the overall process and simultaneously use real-time information from all connected systems. When supplemented by event sourcing or streaming platforms, it enables 100% digital order processing and the integration of the entire logistics chain. This gives service providers the ability to integrate third-party systems to provide high-quality customer service, such as a customer portal, tracking and tracing, online order entry and a pricing tool for automatically calculating spot prices. With all these additional functions, the freight forwarder an handily meet current customer expectations. At the same time, it can always easily integrate new services – a strategic advantage in a market that is rapidly changing as a result of digitalisation.
Strong foundation successful projects
If you take these three practical tips to heart, you will provide the right conditions for rolling out a new TMS. It reduces the task to manageable proportions and, with new, collaboratively developed processes, establishes a broad, solid knowledge base. Using microservices for various sub-processes speeds up the project. Plus, having a new TMS with an API positions the company for the future while significantly reducing the risk of serious errors. This solid foundation increases the likelihood that the new TMS will be a success.