By Byron Davis, May 25, 2021
Dodge Disruption with Smarter TMS
How can you benefit from 2020’s supply chain management experience?
Dodge ball. Mention the game and almost everyone has something to say. But have you ever associated it with supply chain life in 2020? We have, and it serves as a lesson in how to better plan for business continuity considering unforeseen chaos, calamity, and emergencies certain to come in the future.
In the supply chain business, just as in dodge ball, agility marked the survivors of 2020 by their ability to shift in the face of lockdowns, plummeting oil prices, and a buckling stock market. Smart operators were able to scale their workforces to meet fluctuating demands. They negotiated better prices and found more efficient routes. They were able to tap into their environments in real-time and predict with reliability what might happen next, placing themselves in the best position to succeed. And, more often than not, it was a modernized, intelligent approach to transportation management that gave them the critical edge.
Modernized, Smarter, TMS Explained
So, what is a modernized, smarter transportation management system, or TMS, and how can you obtain one? Let’s just say it hinges on two key fundamentals: consistency and transparency in operations.
Consistency in Operations
Consistent, standardized processes and business rules provide a solid footing for your teams no matter where they are or what market conditions come their way. With processes and procedures well established, supported by common tools and automation to help carry the load, costs come down, timelines condense, and growth can be scaled in an orderly, predictable fashion.
Likewise, with a fully connected view of your extended supply chain, you can see opportunities emerge, sidestep stumbling blocks as they occur, and optimize routes, loads, and work schedules for maximum performance based on informed business decisions. With all your gaps covered, transparency is secured.
From there, a modernized, smarter TMS will help you plan intelligently, using accurate data to analyze more cost-effective routes or test “what if” responses against various disaster scenarios. Knowing your service and cost trade-offs in different contexts ahead of time can help you slip through tight spots and come out ahead of your competition.
Modern TMS capabilities enable quality metrics that differentiate your brand in the eyes of customers. Real-time track-and-trace, for instance, can help you manage customer expectations in light of such variables like hours of service, traffic, weather, speed, and lane factors. Dynamic price discovery can help you negotiate shipper-carrier contracts, based on real-time price and freight capacities. And carrier performance metrics, gauging such factors as on-time records, driver safety, billing accuracy, and the number of claims, can help you level the playing field by strengthening ties with top performers and establishing a financially and operationally sound business moving forward.
Upping Your Game
The first step to achieving an intelligent, modernized TMS is to perform a thorough assessment of where you are and where you need to be to best compete. You may already have a serviceable system in place, only needing some added bells and whistles to nudge you to the next level of performance. Perhaps your business processes need an overhaul to ensure consistency across your footprint of operations. Or you may actually need a new set of tools, covering the full spectrum of transportation management, from software and automation to processes, controls, and procedures.
Any way you slice it, finding a qualified, proven supply chain systems partner to offer objective input and guidance will be essential to perfecting your game in short order. Look for a partner who has performed system implementations of the size and complexity you anticipate. Find a team that applies an agile implementation methodology and won’t require massive, costly customizations to get you to your goal. And lastly, find someone who understands your business and fits with your organizational culture.
With an eyes wide open approach, you can avoid being hit by surprises and effectively make it to the next level of excellence in the supply chain game.