Experience and years of working in a real-world environment can not be underestimated when developing a TMS system that address a customer’s complex requirements
My previous two posts focused on the importance of constraints in TMS software algorithms and the issues around executing the routing algorithm's recommendations in a dynamic, real-world environment. These are two very challenging issues that a TMS must be able to address. Customer's requirements are complex and unless you have spent years in the transportation industry and have built a TMS before, it is very difficult to anticipate these needs in the original design. But, if designed correctly, a TMS should be able to support these needs – accurately, quickly, and intuitively.
- Accurately – Transportation is the point at which a company touches the outside world. Deliveries need to be on time and products need to be handled properly. When transportation decisions are not accurate, orders are often damaged or delayed, and money is wasted.
Quickly – Transportation decisions typically need to be made and executed within hours and transportation professionals don't have the luxury of analyzing data for days or weeks to decide how they will move freight.
Intuitively – Transportation professionals want a TMS system to figure out how to move their freight and do so with very little human intervention. For this to happen, the TMS software must possess very sophisticated components that can quickly determine what to do while considering many complex variables that carry with them a lot of uncertainty.
There has been quite a bit of discussion in the industry lately about another key attribute of a great TMS, which is usability. As I read a recent post by Adrian Gonzalez discussing how Excel is the most popular TMS system, I began to ponder why this is true. The point that resonated most with me was how intuitive Excel is and how comfortable most people are using it. Similarly to Excel, I believe that a great TMS needs to be intuitive. As an extension of your business, your TMS should provide you with familiar screens and data that you are accustomed to seeing and not add layers of complexity to the daily work flows already in place.
Additionally, we have been hearing about the importance of a single platform. In fact, I read a related article not too long ago and I could not agree more that the most common mistake relates to the algorithm being added as an afterthought. A good TMS software solution (much less a great TMS solution ) should not have its routing algorithm on a separate platform. The algorithm should not use different data as inputs. It should not require data to be moved to a different environment. And it should not be written and supported by a third party; the algorithm must be an integral part of the execution platform.
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