What you should know before implementing a TMS

A transportation management software (well known as a TMS) is designed to save you time and make your shipping operations more efficient. TMS systems keep all of your shipping information in one place and automate repetitive operations tasks. Using a TMS will help streamline your company’s operations in the long run, but the process of implementing one for the first time might feel daunting. Luckily, a bit of advance preparation will make the initial setup a breeze.  Here are our TMS implementation best practices as well as a step-by-step guide to implementing a TMS at your organization.

What is a TMS? 

A TMS is a software that logistics and trucking companies use to manage their operations. Many TMS programs are cloud-based, which allows users to access them from any device with an internet connection.  Your TMS serves as the central hub for all of your company’s shipping data. Its features will help you manage every aspect of a shipping order, from the initial quote to the shipping route all the way to the final payment. A TMS also allows you to dispatch and monitor orders in real time. This provides extra transparency for your team and your customers, and makes it easier to solve problems if they arise. 

What are your goals for using a TMS? 

Before you choose and implement a TMS, it’s important to define your expectations and goals for this new program. What do you hope to get out of using a TMS, and how will you measure your progress over time?  To set effective goals for your TMS system, you’ll need to start by looking at your current operations. Where are you losing the most time in your shipping routines? Where are you most likely to make errors and how could you eliminate them? How could you improve your customer service? These goals are going to look different for every organization. For example, some companies might focus entirely on saving money with reduced expenses, while others might focus on developing a faster, error-free delivery experience. 

How do you find the right TMS?

There are a variety of TMS programs on the market. Narrowing down the right option for your company can be tricky, especially as there are so many different factors to consider. A side-by-side comparison of popular TMS programs will make your decision more straightforward. Look at online review sites to learn more about each TMS’s features and get a better idea of the customer experience. Of course, you’ll need to keep your company’s needs and goals in mind when comparing software programs. Before you start your search, identify the features that are most important for your organization and which are less of a priority. If your team is constantly swamped and needs to streamline operations, you might look for a TMS with advanced automation features. If you’re already using SaaS programs for accounting, communication, or shipment tracking, make sure your TMS supports those integrations. These are just a few examples of factors to consider. In addition to your own operations, it’s also important to keep your customers’ needs in mind, as your TMS will ultimately benefit them as well. 

What is your budget?

Your budget is another key factor to keep in mind when selecting a TMS. Ultimately, your TMS should help you reduce expenses and maximize revenue, not compromise your finances. Before making your final decision, request a quote from each TMS you are interested in to compare pricing. Many TMS providers offer you a free demo to try before you commit, which will give you a better idea of the program’s overall value. 

Get your team ready

In order to make the most of your TMS once it’s implemented, you’ll need to provide your team with appropriate training. If you don’t train your team ahead of time, your new TMS could actually end up slowing you down rather than making your workload more efficient. It’s normal to experience some resistance from team members when implementing a new software program. To ease the transition, explain the benefits of implementing a TMS and give your employees plenty of time to master all of the new features. It’s also important to inform your customers of any new TMS features that might benefit them, such as live order tracking. 

How long does it take to implement a TMS?

Fully implementing a TMS typically takes two to six months. However, the implementation process might be longer or shorter for your company depending on your unique circumstances. For large companies with particularly complex operations, implementing a new TMS could take a year or more. Cloud-based TMS programs are usually faster to integrate because they don’t require you to buy and install new hardware on premise. Lay out a TMS implementation timeline before you get started. This will guide you through your early days of working with a TMS to help you stay on track. 

What to expect after 30, 60, and 90 days with a TMS

The first month of implementing a TMS will focus mainly on determining a course of action for the software and your company’s operations as a whole. Putting together an implementation plan in advance will help make this process faster. You’ll also start to integrate your TMS with other software programs you use. As you move into the second month with a TMS, your team will continue to familiarize themselves with the product and migrate existing data from your previous systems into the TMS. At this time, you might start using some features of your TMS with new clients. 

Progression over 3 months after a TMS implementation

Through the second and third month after your TMS implementation, you’ll fully implement the program’s features into your operations with both clients and shipping partners. While there may still be some ups and downs, this is the point when many teams start to see real results in terms of efficiency. 

The bottom line

Optimizing freight management with a TMS is a must for trucking and logistics companies. Want to streamline your trucking business? Book a demo below with one of our Rose Rocket logistics experts – as the #1 Rated TMS, we’d be happy to help you learn more!

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