What Is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?
Running a business is hard. Running a transportation business is even harder. This sector is all moving parts. In addition to ordinary business management problems, you have to schedule pickups and deliveries, manage drivers, stay on top of already thin profit margins, and much more.
It’s no wonder you feel like you need a clone to get it all done. But there is an alternative. A transportation management system (TMS) can manage your entire business from quote to cash, and improve efficiency while bettering customer service.
Watch Rob Doherty, Key Account Lead, at Rose Rocket explain what a transportation management system is or read on to learn more.
What Is a Transportation Management System?
A transportation management system is a software solution that connects all the parts of your business into one easy to use platform. In other words, it allows you to manage the whole process from quote to cash from one place — from collecting quotes, to dispatching and planning, to invoicing.
By creating an end-to-end order management flow there are fewer human errors. Minimizing or limiting manual data transcription improves accuracy. It’s also quicker and easier for your whole team to view customer and shipment information.
Since most transportation management systems are now cloud based, they’re also accessible anywhere where there is internet access. Whether that means checking on operations from home on the weekend, or while you’re thousands of miles away on a business trip. To learn more about different TMS solutions, watch our video on the pros and cons of cloud-based TMS systems vs. on-premise vs. spreadsheets.
Who Should Be Using a TMS?
TMS solutions are designed to be flexible enough to benefit transport businesses across the spectrum. There are TMS solutions built for shippers, carriers, and brokers - all players in the transportation industry. For a freight broker, a transportation management system can help them manage their partner network; while, for a trucking company it can help them manage their trucks, trailers, and drivers.
Carriers who need to manage their own fleet will find business management time goes down while profits increase. Brokers managing many subcontractors and independent carriers can keep track of all their networks in one place. 3PLs streamline and organize a huge chunk of their day-to-day management tasks, allowing them to focus on other areas of their business.
Why use a TMS?
1. It's a single source of truth for your business
Many transport companies find that as their business grows, they need a patchwork of software, spreadsheets, and paperwork just to keep a handle on everything.
But things still fall through the cracks. Someone forgets to email an update. The duplicate copy of a critical document vanishes. A missed voicemail. There are countless ways a patchwork management system can go wrong.
Transportation management systems eliminate the need for all those steps, documents, and spreadsheets. With everything in one place, your TMS becomes the single source of truth for your business, making it easy to track your shipments, every step of the way. Access bills of lading. Double check shipment weights or insurance information.
TMS platforms can’t guarantee no one will ever drop the ball. But they do ensure that everyone will know exactly where the ball is, every moment of the day.
2. Everything, Connected
Even transportation management software can’t do everything you need to manage your company. But they can connect with the tools that do.
API and integration options allow you to connect your TMS to telematics systems and compliance devices. They seamlessly connect the operations side of your business with your accounting department, which ensures that billing is accurate and happens on time.
A TMS with open APIs not only pushes information to other systems it can also import data into the system. In fact, you could think of a TMS system as the hub that keeps all the departments in the company up to date, all the time.
3. The Efficiency Effect
You probably know that the only thing that’s worse than being late with any shipment is not letting the customer know it’ll be late. But when things get busy and you’ve got all the balls in the air, it can be hard to remember to contact everyone, every time.
Transportation management systems include automated communications with your team and your customers. So, when you update shipment information, everyone who needs to know will be notified.
Lower Hands-on Time
We all know that time is money. Especially when your bread and butter is getting things from A to B on time. But when you’re handling every step of the process manually, that means a lot of man hours spent on keeping the wheels turning.
A good TMS system makes it quick and easy to login, create updates, adjust, and complete documentation. You get things done faster, so your company saves money.
Enabling driver access to your TMS allows them to save time too. No more paperwork, duplicate books or emailing images. They can simply login and get it done fast, so they can get their loads back on the road.
Transport management software also makes it easier to onboard and train new employees. Instead of having to learn all those different systems, you can focus on one platform. So, they get up to speed faster, and you can reduce training costs.
You know that feeling when paperwork comes back to the office, and someone has left an important box blank? Or the time and frustration of following up with everyone involved to find out what it should be? When you use TMS software, required fields can’t be skipped. So, you’ll never get forms that don’t have everything you need.
Having a single, secure source and storage area for vital documents means you never have to search for them. They’ll simply never get lost on route to your inbox – in your office or online.
4. Enhanced Customer Service
Transportation is a fast-paced industry. Things change and new information needs to be communicated all the time. You’re very busy keeping it all going, but your customers need to know, and they need to know as soon as possible.
Good TMS platforms include built in push notifications that keep your customers up to date in real time. So, they’re not calling or emailing to check what’s happening, and you can use customer service resources more efficiently.
With granular user permissions, you can even give your customers access to the TMS system. Allow them to access self-serve track and trace, upload documents, live chat and more. Because it’s cloud based, they can manage their shipments from anywhere too.
5. Detailed Analytics and Reports
There are many ways to measure your transportation company’s performance. But it really all comes down to one thing: profit.
Detailed customizable reporting allows you to analyze productivity, lost time, and more. Get detailed information on profitability. Track quotes and sales and analyze your quoting success rate.
Download reports or share them with the people who need to know. Cloud based software also means that even if your management team are in different cities or states, critical business data is accessible to everyone.
The Biggest Advance in the Transport Industry
You arrived here hoping to find out what a transport management system is. Hopefully, you now know that it’s the single biggest advance in the transport industry in many years.
Cloud TMS solutions are changing the way trucking companies work, record data, share information and interact with everyone from customers to drivers.
Whether you’re managing your own fleet, third party drivers or a national logistics system, this is a game changer. There’s never been more competition in the industry, and a TMS gives companies that use them an unfair advantage. It’s really no surprise that most of the biggest names in the industry have already built them into their business.
The best news for everyone else is that you don’t have to be a fortune 500 company to take advantage of the business benefits a TMS offers. There are options available to businesses of all sizes, old and new, that are easy to access and deploy.
So, if you’re looking for a way to take your transportation business to the next level, you might just have found it.
Check out the Rose Rocket TMS and see what a TMS system can do for your business! Book a customized demo below.