Finding a good solution for Transportation Management Systems TMS can be a mind numbing experience.  I have put together some useful tips for what to look out for from my years of being in the software, and transportation businesses.  Below are 5 tips to help you out on your search.

TIP 1: DEDICATED SERVER VS. CLOUD SERVER

Dedicated or locally hosted servers require a larger investment in infrastructure for the purchase of the servers.  You will also need to hire a technical contact to maintain the servers on a regular basis.  Cloud based servers require a smaller investment since you don’t need to buy hardware.  Economies of scale are also realized since companies that lease the servers are massive such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Scalability- On a dedicated server scalability is much more difficult to achieve.  If you outgrow your original server due to increased demand you would need to buy additional servers which would take time, and proper planning to successfully implement.  With Cloud based servers you can increase the size of your servers with a few clicks instantly.  This makes your operation much more agile and could potentially be the difference between winning and losing a large new client.

Remote Access – If you’re using a dedicated server, and have outside sales reps that need to access the TMS they would have to do it through VPN or remote desktop.  If you are setup on the cloud then your sales reps would just need an internet connection to access your TMS.  This makes life a bit easier if your sales reps aren’t tech savvy.

TIP 2: LTL RATING ENGINE

A rating engine enables your operations staff to make smarter business decisions when selecting LTL carriers.  The rating engine will let you know the pricing for each carrier for that particular lane, the transit time, and the insurance.  If transit time isn’t an issue and the freight isn’t high valued you may want to choose the cheapest carrier. Another thing to look out for is whether or not the rating engine in the TMS will rate off of rate tables via SMC3 and/or web-services/API.

TIP 3: QUICKBOOKS INTEGRATION

Do you currently have to do a double entry into QuickBooks from your TMS or even worse from excel spreadsheets?  Or do you have to export your accounting information out of your TMS to import it into QuickBooks?  A TMS should have a sync setup so that the information in the TMS, and QuickBooks automatically syncs through a web connector.

TIP 4: ELECTRONIC DISPATCHING

Does your TMS offer electronic dispatching to interact with carriers websites via API?  Electronic dispatching is a newer technology that more and more LTL carriers are adopting such as YRC and Conway Freight where the load is tendered via web services to the carriers website.  In that case a pickup number is generated back into the TMS.

TIP 5:  SOFTWARE UPGRADES

How often does the TMS provider offer software upgrades?  Are the software upgrades included in your monthly subscription fees?  How does the TMS provider assess what upgrades will be in the next update?  Do they offer user group meetings to collect intelligence on what’s going on in the brokerage market?  I hope these tips have been useful.  Please email us if you have further questions sales@3plsystems.com.

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