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Logistics technology

How to implement TMS and realize value faster? – Part 2

Streamlining TMS implementation: Unveiling strategies for value, integration, and seamless operations. 

by Badrinath Setlur | March 15, 2024 | 7 mins read

Streamlining TMS implementation: Unveiling strategies for value, integration, and seamless operations. 

Continuing our exploration into Transportation Management System (TMS) implementation, we delve deeper into the critical aspects that shape a successful deployment, unraveling the intricacies of transforming your logistics operations. 

In Part 1, we laid the groundwork by discussing the strategic imperatives driving TMS adoption and understanding the foundational steps leading up to implementation. Now, armed with insights gleaned from our previous discussions, we embark on a deeper exploration of the implementation phase. 

In this blog, we delve into the a) powerful framework for delivering value, b) system integration strategies to enhance adoption, and c) methods to minimize business disruptions during implementation.  

A comprehensive framework for realizing quantifiable benefits

Embarking on your journey towards cost savings and improvement in productivity & business metrics requires a structured approach and a clear understanding of objectives. Let's break down the key components of this framework, which will be presented in an infographic for easier comprehension and implementation.  

Clearly define the objective: 

Quantify the value delivered by understanding tangible benefits and expected savings from implementation. Report, validate, and align these savings to ensure accuracy and consensus across the project team. Aligning savings ensures everyone works towards shared goals. 

Ensure you do a thorough baseline process: 

Here are the essential steps for maximizing project value 

  • Align on key metrics: Collaborate with the client's project team to define the key metrics that will be used to measure value delivered. This ensures everyone is tracking progress towards the same goals. 
  • Gather baseline data: Obtain baseline data from the client whenever possible. This data serves as a benchmark against which to measure the project's impact. 
  • Establish baseline and methodology: With the baseline data and agreed-upon metrics, establish the methodology for calculating value across all project modules. Ensure everyone involved understands how the value will be measured. 
  • Post go-live reporting: After successful project implementation, generate value reports at a pre-defined frequency. These reports should clearly communicate the value delivered based on the established metrics. 
  • Identify value levers: Though the value levers will be identified based on the definition success criteria as part of blueprint process, here we are talking about continuously analyzing the project to validate & tweak key factors driving value. This might involve features, processes, or areas where optimization can further enhance the project's benefits. 
  • Action plan for improvement: Develop and implement an action plan to address identified opportunities for value improvement. This is an ongoing process to ensure the project continues to deliver maximum value throughout its lifecycle. These will be discussed during Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs).  

By adhering to this comprehensive framework, you can ensure that your value delivery efforts are aligned, measurable, and impactful. 

Actionable integration strategies for enhanced adoption

As you navigate the complex terrain of system integration, it is crucial to translate theory into action. Here's how you can leverage integration across various systems to drive tangible results and enhance adoption: 

Vendor/dealer management system (VDMS): Realize the significance of your VDMS in fostering supplier and distributor relationships. Seamless integration with your TMS grants access to real-time VDMS data on purchase orders and inventory levels, enhancing shipment planning and predicting lead times. Automate purchase orders in VDMS via TMS when inventory reaches a set threshold, streamlining operations and reducing manual tasks. 

Warehouse management system (WMS): WMS is critical to demand planning, managing everything from receiving raw materials and finished goods to picking, packing, shipping, and inventory control. By integrating WMS with your TMS, you can orchestrate a seamless dance between your warehouse and transportation, eliminating information silos and delays. This translates to real-time visibility, optimized shipping based on accurate inventory, and ultimately, a faster, more cost-effective delivery cycle for your customers.  

Order management and planning system (OMPS): By streamlining the order processing, inventory allocation, and warehouse tasks, an OMPS can significantly improve your supply chain operations. When paired with your TMS, they work together seamlessly. Real-time order data feeds directly into TMS, facilitating optimal carrier selection and shipment planning. This translates to faster deliveries, reduced transportation costs, and happier customers. 

Fleet management system (FMS): Utilizing FMS offers crucial advantages by delivering real-time insights into vehicle location, fuel efficiency, and driver behavior. Integrating FMS with your TMS creates a powerful duo: TMS can leverage real-time vehicle data to assign deliveries to internal fleets alongside carriers and courier systems, optimizing resource allocation and minimizing transportation expenses. This translates to a more responsive, cost-effective supply chain.  

Reporting tools: Your TMS must have a native reporting tools to get a bird's eye view of freight sourcing analytics and insights on sustainable/emissions analytics, freight spend analytics and sometimes this could also have inbuilt conversational AI. Check out our newly launched sustainability and emissions manager that provides accurate carbon emissions calculations & tracking of your shipments across all modes from road, sea, rail, inland waterways, and air. 

ERP integration for O2C, STO, P2P, and RO processes: Order-to-Cash (O2C), Stock Transfer Order (STO), Procure-to-Pay (P2P), and Return Order (RO) processes within your ERP hold the key to a smooth supply chain. Integrating them with your TMS unleashes a wealth of data, enabling task automation, route optimization, and real-time visibility across your entire operation. This interconnected network ensures that every operation, from order placement to product delivery and return handling, functions harmoniously and efficiently. 

Track and trace (T&T): Enhancing your tracking capabilities involves harnessing SIM, GPS, and app tracking technologies to equip your supply chain with digital surveillance. When integrated with your TMS, these technologies furnish a wealth of real-time data: monitor shipments, anticipate delays, and fine-tune routes for maximum efficiency. This translates to a more responsive supply chain, reduced costs, and happier customers. 

Logistic stakeholders/partnerships: Ensure seamless data exchange with freight forwarders, brokers, CHAs, drayage partners, and shipping liners through standardized communication protocols like Establish standardized electronic data interchange (EDI). Utilize online portals (web/mobile applications) provided by these partners for tracking shipments, accessing documents, and managing communication efficiently. Explore API integration options with select partners to automate data flow, reducing manual entry and enhancing communication streamline. Integrating TMS with these partners unlocks real-time tracking, streamlined communication, and optimized transportation. This translates to faster deliveries, lower costs, and reduced compliance risks for your supply chain. 

As you integrate systems, middleware serves as the bridge between client systems and the TMS, ensuring smooth data exchange despite differing formats or protocols. Middleware platforms like PIPO, CPI, Mulesoft, Net Suite, Dotnet, Sterling, and Boomi facilitate this interoperability, enhancing efficiency and connectivity. Explore how each integration with related peripheral systems supporting supply chain operations can reduce manual effort, minimize errors, and enable automation, promoting data-driven decision-making. 

People-centric process for disruption-free product implementation 

Like I keep emphasizing to our clients, Pando is the only thing I do while you have a business to run. Successful product implementation hinges on a well-coordinated team effort. This people-centric process outlines the roles and time commitment for key stakeholders, minimizing disruption and ensuring a smooth transition.  

  • Empowered Core team: Your core team, led by the program manager, plays a pivotal role in the project's successful delivery. Empower them to make decisions to move the project forward and handle change management. Allocate sufficient time each week, with increased involvement during critical phases like Blueprinting, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and cut-over to go-live.
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) / Business teams: Your SMEs and business process owners are instrumental in validating the solution and participating in discussions. Their involvement is crucial throughout various project stages, ensuring alignment with business objectives and processes. 
  • Product champions: Foster a culture of ownership and adoption by appointing product champions who will be trained to facilitate user training and testing. Allocate sufficient time during critical project phases, transitioning into a key user role post-implementation. 
  • IT team: Whether local, global, or a partner, your IT team is essential for discussions on IT landscape, integration, and data provision. Plan their involvement accordingly, especially during blueprinting, System Integration Testing (SIT)/UAT, and the transition to go-live. 
  • Steering committee (SC): Establish an executive steering committee comprising project sponsors, supply chain/logistics heads, and IT leadership. Allocate time each week for strategic oversight and to address any potential bottlenecks. The SC must happen fortnightly to provide status update and eliminate roadblocks.  

In wrapping up this segment of our journey towards business transformation, success hinges on meticulous planning, strategic collaboration, and unwavering commitment to excellence. By exploring the nuances of value delivery, system integration, and disruption minimization, we've provided you with the tools and understanding needed to navigate implementation complexities with confidence and clarity. 

However, our exploration doesn't end here. In Part 3 of our series, we will delve deeper into the structure and approach for a successful go-live. From pre-configuration of systems to the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), we will provide you with actionable strategies to ensure a seamless transition and maximize the value of your investment. 

Stay tuned for the next installment, where we will unveil the blueprint for a successful go-live and empower you to unlock the full potential of your transformation journey. Until then, continue to leverage the insights gained in this blog to drive innovation, efficiency, and growth within your organization.