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Do’s and Don’ts of your TMS Selection Process

The market for software solutions is seeing huge growth. Take transportation management systems for example. According to a MarketsandMarkets report, TMS market is expected to grow from $7.7B in 2020 to $17.8B in 2025, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% during that period.  

From that level of growth, TMS providers are responding to the demand, as evidenced by both the number of competitors on the market and the expanding functionality they offer to their customers. 

It is within this context of expansion that business executives in transportation and logistics must make their decision of whether to buy off the shelf software or build their own products. What is right for you?

Making the strategic choice requires taking into consideration the strengths of the individual company, the demands for the solution, and the goals for the future.

Hopefully you’ve already explored our Pros and Cons of Buying and Building or downloaded our Complete Buy vs Build Guide. Today we’re honing in on some noteworthy Do’s and Don’ts of your TMS Selection Journey.

DO: Take a step back to ensure a holistic approach to your tech
DON'T: Focus only on solving one specific problem

Leadership may come to the table with the goal of solving a pain point. For example, visibility. Visibility is of course important, but we have seen leaders narrow in on visibility to the point that it becomes visibility over execution. As teams and as a business, you have to start thinking holistically.

Start asking bigger questions. What is your larger business goal? What changes do you anticipate in your business? How will this impact the supply chain?  What are you working toward in 2 years? 5 years? 10?

Vijay Natarajan, VP Global Solutions  at MPO explains, “With this approach, you can solve immediate pain points, but as part of an overarching technology strategy that supports the bigger picture.  Find solutions that address today’s pain points and simultaneously become part of your continuous journey toward your ideal future state.”

quotes

DO: Conduct a Thorough Requirements Gathering Assessment
DON’T: Assume that You Know Everything Happening in Your Business

We cannot stress enough how important it is to go through an intentional requirements gathering process. You want the clearest picture possible of your business. We mean the actual on-the-ground truth of your business, to include:

  • Functional: what users are doing and how they do it
  • Technical: how systems work and work together 

Ryan Schreiber, VP of Development and Growth at Metafora explains, “One of the biggest mistakes we see is leaders ‘knowing the business’ because they’ve ‘done the job.’ However, as we continue to gather information and survey people on-the-ground, it is often revealed that times have changed, and leadership is not currently close enough to all aspects of the business to truly understand the particulars of how it is now.”

 As a result, you need to work with users to understand how they’re currently: 

  • Doing their job
  • Using the systems in place
  • Any of their work arounds 

Once you have this understanding, you can proceed to organizing your capabilities lists. 

DO: Create a List of Must-Haves
DON’T: Let your List of Must-Haves get too Long

As the name suggests, these are the core features or capabilities the software “must-have”. They are the real deal breakers - without these features a system will not qualify. 

This should be as short a list as possible, because you MUST eliminate any software that does not have these features, or you will create a more complicated product if you build. A few examples of must haves:

  • The product must be able to integrate with your accounting package because it has a financial component.
  • Must enable seamless onboarding of new customers
  • Must allow me to work with any order type: purchase order flows, sales flows, return flows, etc. 

The Must-Have list does not need to cover every single thing the software can do, but in the classic 80/20 paradigm, it needs to cover the true core features, functionality, integration, or technical capabilities. quotes (1)-1A Transportation Management System that is flexible and configurable is often a great pick because it enables interoperability with your existing landscape  and/or build in what you need to work with your company’s unique workflows. 

Vijay Natarajan, VP Global Solutions  “Today’s supply chain practitioners need the confidence that they can not only address their current issues but also be prepared for the unknown.  Knowing that the selected system can do both adds a level of confidence.”

Ok so, you’ve selected your TMS, now what?

DO: Enable you product team to focus on things that will differentiate your business 
DON'T: Make your product team spend time on back and tasks like integration

You’ll make the most of your new TMS if you integrate it into your larger network. Most technology providers and vendors have public API’s available. However, these are not leveraged as well as they should be in our industry because they are often costly and time consuming to build. This is why Metafora developed Socket. With Socket, you can confidently outsource your API integrations to experts who thrive behind the scenes to help move the transportation and logistics industry forward.

DO: Invest time and resources into change management and training
DON'T: Just install the new TMS and train on which buttons to push

Bringing new tech into your business is a big deal and implementing it properly is a big opportunity. With an intentional change management approach, you should engage your team and get them onboard with your future vision. You need to communicate the vision and define the change. This is how you encourage buy-in of the change coming with your new TMS.

Along with change management is… training! Training needs to be a long-term investment and needs to cover a greater base than what buttons to push with your new software.

Vijay Natarajan, VP Global Solutions agrees, “Training should be multi-level and multi-purpose. You need a strong foundational training that illustrates the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how-to.’ Moreover, we want our customers to be self-sufficient. That’s why we include configurability in the training as well.”

This type of training leads to better adoption of your new tool. Users should understand why this solution was selected and why it will make their job more effective. Consider the task of learning the new TMS from the user’s perspective. They are likely wondering:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Why should I care, and why is this good for me?
  • How do I need to do my job differently to accomplish what I want?

Addressing training from this mentality shows that you understand their job, respect their time, and illustrate how their best interests tie into the larger mission of your organization.

Ready to start your TMS selection process? Metafora has helped top companies in our industry find the right solution for them and has steered leaders away from accidentally making costly mistakes.  

- - - - - - - 

MPO offers the world’s only natively unified cloud platform for Multi Party Orchestration. The platform complements existing enterprise systems with visibility and control, and optimizes order, inventory, and transportation across dynamic, multi-party networks. 

Did you hear the news? Metafora + MPO recently announced their partnership to make supply chain visibility easier.

Metafora
Metafora
Metafora, previously "CarrierDirect", is a business consulting and software development company that exclusively services the Transportation, Logistics and Supply Chain space. Metafora partners with carriers, shippers, and freight tech vendors to help them optimize their business and build software to fuel their growth. Welcome to the new way forward. Welcome to Metafora.

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