So you’ve decided to invest in a global transportation management system (TMS). Now do you know which key resources and criteria are needed to successfully develop and implement such a system?
It’s a question that more companies are asking as supply chains continue to expand globally. A TMS that serves the needs of multiple regions requires a certain level of operational and technical expertise—and support services that have a worldwide reach.
Boxes to check
You no doubt have a checklist of requirements that you’re looking for. Here are some questions that should be on the list as you evaluate TMS solutions in a global context.
How flexible are the provider’s solutions? Depending on your logistics needs and available resources, you might opt for a managed model or self-service TMS model. Perhaps you’re already committed to a system and want an interim solution until your current contract expires. Also, keep in mind that the best solution for your company may vary from region to region. For instance, a managed model might align with the organization’s strategy in North America, but a self-service model is a better choice for the company’s operation in Europe. Look for a provider in the market place that has the flexibility to meet different service and geographic needs.
Does the provider have implementation resources stationed around the globe? To state the obvious, each region of the world has its own mix of cultures and operational challenges. Even though this is common knowledge, it’s still critically important that the TMS solution provider has a physical presence in each of the regions you want to cover. It’s especially important that there are experienced logistics professionals in each region who are intimately familiar with the technology and the nuances of each territory covered by the new system. There is no substitute for local knowledge and connections when implementing a global TMS.
Are regional preferences taken into account in TMS rollout plans? Make sure that a provider can design TMS rollout plans that incorporate your specific preferences and align with your strategy. Note that providers with implementation resources in each region of the globe (see above) are better able to meet these needs. For example, the provider should be able to begin an implementation in Asia or Europe, if that is your strategy, before connecting to North America for a global implementation. Another effective approach is to start the rollout by connecting two regions domestically, before linking the two regions with broader interregional shipment moves.
Does the TMS deliver a single instance platform? The ability to access a single, unified view of your supply chain is important in any logistics operation, but especially so when managing freight networks on a global basis. You simply can’t afford to have a fragmented view of the supply chain when managing the complexities of international cargo movements. Beware of solutions that claim to offer a single version of the truth, but in reality are made up of compartmentalized systems strung together for global users.
Think globally, act locally
Your checklist of TMS solution requirements will guide the overall selection and implementation process. But it is a living document that can be changed as you learn more about the technology and your logistics needs across the globe. It’s also advisable to create regional checklists that delve more deeply into local demands and inform the global implementation plan.