Contact us

Close this search box.

7 “Must Haves” When Building an Executive-Level TMS Business Case



7 “Must Haves” When Building an Executive-Level TMS Business Case

September 12, 2023

How to Persuade Top Brass that Now Is the Time to Invest in a Modern Transportation Management System

In simplest terms, a transportation management system (TMS) is an integrated transportation software solution that helps you plan, execute, and optimize the physical movement of orders coming into and going out of your distribution center (DC). Most manufacturing companies, warehouse operators, and third-party logistics (3PL) firms use some form of TMS to create efficiencies, expand margins, and improve customer experience as a means of increasing competitiveness and bottom line growth.

The topic of implementing (or upgrading to) a modern TMS usually comes up around the water cooler, when managers, supervisors, and senior-level execs start commiserating over the inefficiencies of existing systems, lack of visibility into the shipping process, higher cost-to-serve, or customer complaints. At this point, an assertive participant will usually take the initiative and commence to build a business case for investing in a solution.

Here are seven key considerations when building that business case, designed to focus the discussion on achieving a cost-effective deployment within a reasonable timeframe, aimed at producing an accelerated return on investment:

  1. Perform an assessment: Get a bearing on where you are and where you want to be. This is job one. Ask yourself, why are you installing a new TMS? What issues will it address? What do you expect to have happen? What other systems must be integrated for your TMS to function smoothly? What current systems need upgrading to make that happen? What other locations will be involved? Who will be affected? What processes will need to change? How will those changes be managed? How will your data be migrated, maintained, shared? What risks can be anticipated? Downtime? Customer communications? Potential disruptions? What talent will be required to ensure success? What are their roles and responsibilities? What systems are currently available on the market that meet your needs? What will the software cost? What are the licensing fees? Number of users? Hosting costs? Maintenance fees? What vendors seem to be the best fit? Your answers to these questions will help fill out the rest of your business case. Look at this as the homework assignment preceding your actual draft.
  2. Draft a vision statement: In a few sentences, describe what you are trying to accomplish, what type of solution you’re looking for, and how this particular project will produce a return on investment as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  3. Scope the requirements: Requirements define your minimum viable product and will form the meat of your RFP. Spell out the goals of the installation, while defining the specific features and functionalities you expect to see in a solution. What issues must be addressed in order of priority? What must your solution absolutely deliver and what constitutes “icing on the cake?” Scope the various system integrations up front. Identify any other providers or partners who will be involved. Include any specifics, such as “visibility into freight spend,” “controlling unexpected charges,” or “improving carrier communications” here.
  4. Detail the decision criteria: Here is where you describe your vendor “must haves.” Naturally, you will ask for references, track records, and request a demo. But also, be clear on how you want your project to be managed. What sort of resources will be required to satisfy your needs? Your decision criteria will define how you will conduct the bidding process, who will be invited, and how a final selection will be managed.
  5. Develop an implementation plan: Top brass will want to know how the plan will unfold. The more technical the audience, the more detailed it gets, so start with a broad description followed by a step-by-step breakdown (i.e., first, a vendor discovery meeting; then, a detailed deployment roadmap; then, an internal communications plan; then…). You get the picture. From initial team discussion to final testing and go-live, your aim is to minimize surprises and keep the implementation process on schedule and friction-free.
  6. Dollarize the total cost of ownership: The clincher behind any TMS implementation comes down to return on investment. So, define the investment. What does the software cost, including any hosting or licensing fees (per user, as applicable)? What will it cost to support? What training costs might be incurred? Are there any costs for bespoke modifications or specialized integrations to connect adjoining software or systems? Don’t forget data storage fees or added talent on the payroll. This will give you an annualized total cost of ownership you must then compare to the anticipated ROI. Define your ROI in whatever terms make sense (i.e., fuel savings, favorable contract renewals, productivity impact, cost savings, etc.). From here, you can establish your breakeven point (i.e., total cost = $5M, payback = $2M/year, breakeven = 2.5 years).
  7. Map the metrics: It’s been said that “what gets measured, gets done.” By defining what matters up front, you can immediately begin measuring your success, usually in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs). Common KPIs include improving on-time performance, shortening in-transit times, reducing on-hold times, enhancing satisfaction scores, etc. Be prepared to make corrections along the way.

Getting your top brass to approve a large project such as a new TMS implementation or upgrade depends heavily on demonstrating that you have thought the matter through from start to finish. Make sure your presentation hits all the bases – financial, operational, leadership, business units, requirements, and analytics.

By starting with the end in mind, and keeping your eyes on what you want to accomplish financially and strategically, you can position your business for a relatively painless TMS implementation, enroute to long-term success.

To learn more about our TMS capabilities, or to schedule a free consultation, please Contact us today.

Related Articles

WMS and Labor System Implementation

Ask the Expert – Brian Gronberg

Discover the journey and insights of Brian Gronberg, Sr. Director of Client Services at Open Sky Group. With 24 years in the supply chain industry, Brian shares his day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and strategies for success.

Read More

Building the Business Case for a Tier 1 Labor Management System

Discover the value of implementing a Tier 1 labor management system (LMS) in your growing warehouse operation. Learn how a Tier 1 LMS optimizes workforce performance, boosts productivity, and provides a substantial ROI. Explore the benefits of tracking multiple variables in real-time, identifying underperforming employees, and fine-tuning warehouse processes. With expert insights and cost analysis, find out why investing in a Tier 1 LMS is a game-changer for your supply chain.

Read More

It’s time to elevate.

Discover how Open Sky Group
can help you reach new heights
of supply chain efficiency.

Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich


Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.

Skip to content