What does a global transportation management system (TMS) look like? It’s a question you might be asking as the technology continues to gain ground in the logistics industry.
TMS technology that supports the global marketplace has certain attributes that distinguish it from domestic-oriented systems. As a wider range of shippers globalize their logistics networks, TMS solutions capable of managing international freight transportation have become a key part of supply chain management strategies.
In terms of the evolution of TMS technology over recent decades, the rise of global systems is relatively new. In our previous post 5 Tips in Making the Move to a Global TMS, we cited a research report published by the trade journal American Shipper. The report found that only about half of the large shippers and around a quarter of the small/medium sized shippers studied had completed an international roll out of their TMS solutions across modes and regions. Only 57% of the 3PLs surveyed had done so, “suggesting they often see TMS as purely a domestic tool,” said the report.
In today’s globally competitive marketplace, such a perspective is far too limited for a growing number of shippers and intermediaries.
A first step to migrating to a worldwide TMS is becoming familiar with the basic parameters that define such systems.
Here are five primary features that differentiate them:
- Single System Architecture. A genuinely unified global system spans all continents and provides visibility within the same operating environment without exporting and importing data into standalone systems.
- Centralized Visibility. Global systems afford a panoramic view of an organization’s entire supply chain, from procurement to drill-down details on every shipment worldwide.
- Multiple Services and Modes. Companies should be able to see details for air, ocean, rail, and road movements, and obtain utilization reports for each. Support for the management of bids for any method of transportation worldwide is another feature of globally connected TMS solutions.
- World-Ready. The system should accommodate specific currency, language, tax, and tariff requirements for each country or region covered.
- Management Reports. A global TMS generates management reports such as carrier and client scorecards, and calculations of total landed cost calculations, that support more profitable management decisions and greater customer satisfaction. The industry is entering an era where analyzing freight movements on an international basis is becoming a competitive necessity.
Obviously, these five distinguishing characteristics represent only the outline of a globally-enabled TMS. But they help you bring a worldwide view of freight transportation management into focus. Importantly, this snapshot also offers you a glimpse of the tremendous opportunities for capturing efficiencies that become available when you graduate to a global TMS.
For more information on the challenges of going global, check out our white paper, Going Global: Building a Sustainable Logistics Model in the Age of Globalization.
Editor’s note: This post originally ran last year. Since it remains a relevant topic, we wanted to share it with you again.
 Falling Short: Where TMS Fails to Meet Global Shippers’ Expectations, American Shipper, April 2015.