The supply chain space has been dramatically - and likely permanently - altered due to the COVID pandemic. Many of the vulnerabilities in existing supply chain technology systems and logistics processes were laid bare, so how do you pick a transportation management system for this new reality?

As a result of industry-wide shifts to address these vulnerabilities, logistics service providers find themselves operating in a much different world today. Freight rates, driver shortages and tight trucking capacity are on the rise. Customer expectations and demands continue to shift. To stay competitive and expand into new markets, LSPs must turn to new technological applications to tackle the spate of transportation-related challenges today and to anticipate emerging trends and issues.  Growing with a trusted technology provider partner is the first step.

In the new supply chain normal in which logistics service providers need to embrace the unknown, it is obvious that LSPs need a system that can do it all backed by a company with a commitment to innovation. A partner for the future.  Picking that partner can be tricky. It’s important to weigh all the new solution options. Judging the provider’s experience onboarding logistics providers and history with LTL and truckload moves, among other modes, should be done with a critical eye before starting a business relationship. Only then will LSP customers find a provider that can take them beyond the TMS status quo.

Think outside of the logistics execution box to find innovative supply chain technology

As logistics and supply chain tools and technologies change, the way logistics processes are managed needs to adapt. In previous decades, TMS solutions were an incredible advantage for a company to have, but they were typically cost prohibitive for any but the largest shipping businesses to acquire. These tools are more than just a competitive advantage now: They are essential to managing complex transportation networks in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. But in a crowded supply chain technology market, making sure you select the right one for your business needs can be difficult.

The demand for capabilities beyond the basics is also increasing. LSPs access to innovations like cutting-edge data analytics and transportation optimization tools. The best applications allow users to orchestrate through planning, monitoring and responding, by grouping a number of tailored solutions in one, easy-to-use platform. Every supply chain technology provider has different solutions dedicated to different parts of the shipment lifecycle. The trick is getting all these solutions working in concert, so users and their customers benefit from the data derived from multiple systems to identify exceptions, prioritize those exceptions based on business impact, and consider available options to resolve.

New solutions can also create new problems. Look for one designed, built and tested in house. Many providers that grow solutions through acquisitions suffer from issues – solutions gaps that arise when the technology acquired doesn’t work well with existing systems. At the core of any innovative, R&D-focused supply chain technology company worth partnering with, is a commitment to reliability and an understanding of what solutions truly bring value to customers.  

Test the TMS to make sure your supply chain technology expectations are met

You’ll find that many supply chain technology providers may say they have the capabilities to provide powerful execution tools matched with real time shipment visibility, but it’s important to pressure-test these assumptions. These companies also need to deliver on their visions and on-board customers with ease, supporting them through their supply chain endeavors, even in times of great industry upheaval. Their supply chain vision should include a dedication to innovation and belief in the difference an R&D-driven organization can make in the industry. When companies have a dedication to research and development, customers benefit from the latest freight transportation technology solutions that are fully supported as new features are added.   

As you speed up your supply chain digitization plans due to the turbulence of the past few years and the uncertainty of what’s to come, don’t forget to take the time to carefully weigh all your options. Choosing the wrong supply chain technology partner can prove costly; this cost will be measured in time wasted, money spent and customer lost due to poor integration to an inferior TMS system. Make sure to seek appropriate council and interrogate multiple systems before deciding upon the solution that fits your business needs.

Blume Logistics helps customers successfully manage logistics execution across the supply chain network with first- and last-mile shipment visibility; enhances visibility and control over transportation spending; and improves customer service and vendor relations. Connect with a Blume representative to learn more about how Blume Logistics provides
intelligent carrier selection, transportation booking, end-to-end visibility, exception alerts and more.

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