Five Questions to Ask Current or Prospective TMS Providers
If you already use a transportation management software (TMS) system, you probably have a wish list of features and functions to look for when evaluating a new vendor, especially if you consider your current system to be outdated.
Going forward, the first decision you will make is whether to go with a legacy client-server or a modern software as a service (SaaS) architecture. No matter your preference, there are other must-haves to narrow your choices.
Whether you are considering a new system or want to evaluate your current one, here are five questions to ask a TMS provider to start the discussion moving in the right direction.
Is the conversion process difficult and costly?
Switching to a new TMS does not have to be a long, drawn-out event. Modern TMS platforms can save companies significant time and money during the conversion process. Testing the usability of a system is one of the best ways to predict implementation time.
Modern, cloud-native TMS platforms should have intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. By comparison, outdated client-server TMS systems often have dated grid layouts, like spreadsheets, with multiple colors that produce a clunky and confusing user experience. It takes costly training and effort to master these systems, which is a turn-off for new adopters.
Besides faster implementation, modern SaaS-based TMS platforms can deliver immediate cost savings by eliminating upfront hardware investments. They also minimize overhead by cutting out the need for IT specialists to maintain on-premises servers.
Tip: Fast conversion is possible with TMS platforms that have fast, intuitive, and comprehensive transportation and logistics workflows.
How accessible is the TMS platform?
The answer to this should include easy remote access. An early indicator is whether a vendor can manage the initial deployment remotely if this option best suits your needs and budget. Remote deployment can save significant costs compared to paying a vendor to send employees or contractors on-site for setup and training exercises. Modern TMS platforms should be able to accommodate both onsite and offsite implementations.
TMS platforms must also be accessible across multiple devices. As the workforce continues to shift toward a decentralized model, people want to work for companies with mobile and web experiences for remote work options. People also have expectations for how technology should look and function, based on what they use in their personal lives.
Tip: Transportation companies that use outdated TMS systems with limited remote access and mobility will find it harder to implement new technology and recruit and retain a highly technical workforce.
How easily can you integrate and how much does it cost?
Choosing a TMS provider that easily integrates with complementary systems like ELDs, trailer tracking, electronic payments, and accounting software is critical to making the most of your investment. These integrations should not incur costly service fees.
For years, carriers have been pushing legacy TMS providers to open up their systems to more quickly plug and play with new systems entering the market. Cloud-native TMS platforms are all about connections.
Legacy TMS platforms often fall short in this regard, and companies that adopt new technology have to choose to shuffle between different screens or retrieve information from external web portals versus paying thousands in fees to connect a TMS to third-party systems.
Tip: Ask a vendor how much it will cost and how much time it will take to migrate and support existing or new integrations.
How secure is your data?
Improving data security is one of many reasons why trucking and logistics companies are migrating to enterprise-class TMS platforms with a software-as-a-subscription (SaaS) model.
The SaaS model defers the risks of physical and virtual access to vendors who will keep your data safe by consistently maintaining and securing computer systems better than you can.
A modern, enterprise SaaS-based TMS will use advanced protocols and encryption techniques to establish a secure channel of communications between the system and web browsers of authorized users.
SaaS-based TMS providers that use leading cloud computing services will also typically include data backups as part of the subscription. This is one of many reasons why trucking and logistics companies of all sizes that have data centers are moving enterprise applications to the cloud.
Tip: Choose a TMS provider that partners with leading cloud computing services to back up your data in near real-time. In case of a natural disaster or other disruption, you should expect to have immediate and full data recovery.
Does your TMS include integrated business intelligence (BI)?
A robust suite of self-service BI tools that streamline reporting is one of the most important features of modern TMS platforms.
Accessing data and making intelligent decisions is everyone’s job, from the frontlines to the C-suite. The BI tools of a modern TMS can empower people to make strategic decisions, regardless of industry experience or job tenure.
Tip: Choose a TMS that integrates with user-friendly tools such as Power BI and Tableau to create reports and use data visualizations to spot trends and compare performance results for different time periods.
The answers to all of these key questions will help you find a modern TMS to automate and simplify your trucking and logistics operations, enabling you to run more efficiently and profitably for years to come.
To see a demo of how the Magnus TMS checks all of these boxes and more, contact us directly at (877) 381-4632 or firstname.lastname@example.org