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Logistics technology

How to implement TMS and realize value faster? - Part 1

Discover the critical success factors foundational to value realization. 

by Badrinath Setlur | February 28, 2024 | 6 mins read

Discover the critical success factors foundational to value realization. 

Embarking on a journey to implement a Transportation Management System (TMS) is a strategic decision that holds the promise of transforming your logistics operations and driving significant value for your organization. As you venture into this phase, it's essential to equip yourself with the knowledge and insights necessary to navigate the complexities of TMS implementation successfully. We have had the experience of onboarding customers and supporting them across their digital transformation journey in supply chain. This is an honest attempt to distil the key nuggets we have learnt from our customer conversations on driving a successful TMS implementation.  

Before diving into the intricacies of TMS deployment, we would like you to explore the following elements: selecting the right partner, critical success factors and the right implementation framework in this blog. To gain a deeper understanding of the foundational steps leading up to TMS implementation, do check out our previous blogs, “Building a business case to invest in TMSPart 1 and Part 2”. This insightful piece lays the groundwork for understanding the strategic imperatives driving TMS adoption and sets the stage for our discussion on implementation strategies and value realization. 

Selecting the right partner: Foundation for TMS Triumph

Selecting the right implementation partner is crucial for a successful TMS deployment. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating potential partners:

  • Comprehensive understanding of your needs - A reliable TMS implementation partner grasps your organization's needs, challenges, and goals, analyzing current logistics processes for enhancement. Unlike system integrators, they don't merely digitize existing methods. Instead, they employ best practices from diverse sectors to configure our TMS solution, optimizing it for your specific requirements. This approach ensures industry-leading efficiency without compromising future scalability or upgrades.
  • Proven track record - Seek a partner with a solid track record of successful TMS implementations across various industries and company sizes. Case studies, client testimonials, and references can offer valuable insights into the partner's capabilities, reliability, and ability to deliver results.
  • Fast go-live and time to value  - Time is critical in today's business landscape. Choose a partner capable of ensuring the fastest go-live and time-to-value in the industry while maintaining quality and functionality. Rapid deployment methodologies, efficient project management, and a focus on delivering tangible value from the start are essential attributes to look for.
  • Deep integrations and value-first approach - Seamless integrations with your existing systems and processes are crucial for maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your TMS. Choose a partner with expertise in integrating TMS solutions with ERPs, WMS, transportation networks, and other relevant platforms. Prioritize partners who emphasize a value-first approach, focusing on delivering measurable benefits and ROI throughout the implementation process.
  • Team expertise and experience - A diverse team with technical expertise, industry knowledge, and project management skills is essential for successful TMS implementation. Evaluate the partner's team composition, qualifications, certifications, and experience levels to ensure they possess the necessary capabilities to meet your requirements effectively. 

    We highly recommend exploring our insightful series on "Choosing a TMS - Part 1 and Part 2” to gain valuable insights into the criteria for selecting the right TMS solution and partner.
Critical success factors: Building the foundation for TMS implementation success 

Implementing a TMS is not merely about deploying a solution — it's a strategic initiative that can redefine your logistics operations and drive significant value for your organization. To ensure the success of your TMS implementation, it's crucial to focus on the following critical success factors:  

Define success, drive results  
Your TMS implementation's success relies on clear metrics, spanning qualitative (e.g., customer satisfaction) and quantitative (e.g., cost savings) factors. These metrics steer decisions amidst conflicting priorities, like standard solutions versus process customization. Furthermore, sharing these ranked metrics across the organization fosters alignment and motivates teams by showcasing progress towards common goals. Clear metrics can be your compass in your roadmap, ensuring impactful implementation by guiding decisions and pinpointing areas for improvement. 

Empower your core team  
Empower your core team for TMS success by aligning their Key Result Areas (KRAs) with project goals. Their ownership and commitment drive progress and innovation, fostering collaboration and overcoming obstacles. Empowerment is crucial as team members must make impactful decisions, influencing processes—a vital aspect of change management. Without it, delays ensue as they seek supervisor approval. However, supervisors, focused on daily tasks, may provide suboptimal recommendations due to a lack of holistic perspective. 

Alignment and collaboration  
Successful TMS implementation thrives on alignment and collaboration with cross-functional teams including, but not limited to supply chain, logistics, transport procurement, IT, and finance teams. The core team and product specialists must function as a cohesive unit with other teams, sharing insights, challenges, and solutions. Transparent communication and active collaboration ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction—towards project success. 

Transparency is the cornerstone of effective project management. Keep the lines of communication open and well-lit, ensuring the core team and the organization are fully informed of project status, updates, and potential roadblocks. Scheduling regular cadence of calls and establishing a dedicated channel for real-time updates foster trust, accountability, and proactive problem-solving, while also keeping the organization informed at regular intervals of the progress being made.  

A robust governance structure is the compass that guides your TMS implementation journey. Regular core team calls and steering committee meetings ensure alignment with strategic objectives and provide a platform for timely decision-making. An escalation matrix serves as a safety net, ensuring that challenges are addressed promptly and effectively.

Hybrid agile methodology: Framework to navigate the journey towards value realization 

In today's dynamic business environment, agility is the key to success. Adopt a hybrid agile methodology that combines the best of both worlds—flexibility and structure. Bring in specialists as needed, pivot quickly in response to changing requirements, and prioritize value delivery at every stage of the implementation process. 

The journey towards implementing a TMS is critical for streamlining operations and achieving business objectives. The implementation phase offers a roadmap, guiding organizations through a rigorous yet rewarding process. Here are the key phases simplified for actionable implementation:

  • Kickoff and introduction - Initiate with clear goal setting, defining data requirements, and aligning responsibilities between your teams and your solution vendor. This phase marks the beginning of purposeful action towards TMS implementation success. Establish RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix to clarify roles and responsibilities for stakeholders throughout the implementation lifecycle.
  • Blueprinting and solution definition - During this crucial phase, validate requirements, shape the solution, and establish baselines for measuring value against metrics. Ensure alignment with organizational goals and integrate industry best practices to optimize effectiveness for your specific needs. 
  • Design, development and integration - Navigate complexities by integrating with ERPs, APIs, and other systems. Identify key interfaces, sail through system testing, and address challenges for seamless integration, laying the foundation for a robust TMS infrastructure.
  • User onboarding - Initiate users into the system with comprehensive training and resources to facilitate seamless integration and understanding. As part of change management, provide access to the system in a demo environment and support the creation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for smooth adoption and utilization. 
  • User acceptance testing (UAT) - Conduct rigorous testing by end-users to validate system functionality, ensuring alignment with business requirements and user expectations.
  • Go-live and stabilization - As you go live with the solution, it is important to stabilize processes by measuring key metrics for value realization & to monitor post-implementation operations. For more realistic & continuous excellence, perhaps go live in stages as you transform the vision into reality. This leads to higher chances of enhanced efficiency and tangible benefits, fostering early adoption and demonstrating value. 
  • Support and customer success - Sustain momentum post-implementation, ensuring no disruptions. Provide ongoing support, deliver consistent value, and optimize TMS usage for long-term success. This phase represents a commitment to continuous excellence in value realization, complemented by Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) to gather insights, share best practices, and maximize value.


In conclusion, mastering these critical success factors and adhering to a structured implementation framework can expedite your journey towards realizing value from your TMS investment. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll delve into the roles and responsibilities of the implementation team, the process journey along with strategies for mitigating business disruptions throughout the implementation process and orchestrating a successful supply chain & logistics digital transformation.