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Your TMS Isn’t The Problem

How to integrate your digital logistics system without starting over.

11th September 2023

Written by

Alistair Lindsay

Chief Operating Officer

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The global TMS market is expected to hit $11.9 billion in 2023. The TMS has become the command centre of freight management. So why do you think you need a new Transport Management System?

To function, your TMS needs to integrate with business tools (like your ERP or CRM) and specialised logistics software (like a Slot Management System). All these integrations make it very easy to end up with multiple disconnected platforms that deny access to information. Even worse, manual steps can crop up between systems, slowing everything down and creating errors. Any of these outcomes might lead to you identifying your TMS as a problem.

You might want a simpler or more customisable interface, or you might want to add specialised logistics functionalities to cut out difficult-to-integrate support technology. But it’s more likely that you think you need a new TMS because you're trying to make your TMS the tool that centralises your entire digital logistics operation.

But you're forgetting a more basic question. Is there another option? The answer to that is yes.

  • Option 1: Your TMS is the central hub for your freight management system.

  • Option 2: Your TMS is one of many tools delivering specific functionality within a wider system united by something else.

We pursued Option 2 at Zeus Labs to build our own multimodal and road freight solutions, developing Freight Command in the process. This has also allowed us to improve access to these services with an interconnected solution called Freight Connect.

Option 2 works. Here, we’re going to explain how it’s possible, why it’s an easier answer, and why it’s a longer-term solution.

Your TMS doesn’t deliver, but that isn’t your real problem

A traditional TMS will focus on load and route planning and optimisation. If it doesn’t do that well, then you probably do need a new TMS because these are critical capabilities you need your TMS to provide.

Either way, your TMS may also provide reporting and tracking visibility or carrier management and freight auditing capabilities. But it might not do these things well, and likely doesn’t deliver several critical outcomes, including…

  1. Slot Management: Coordinating the precise timing for delivery and pick-up at warehouses is not a feature of many traditional TMSs.

  2. Warehouse Management: A TMS largely focuses on the transportation aspect of goods, but to effectively handle inventory control, product assortment, and warehouse space management, integration with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is often necessary.

  3. Order Management: Seamless syncing with the order fulfilment process is key for real-time order status updates and customer satisfaction. This generally means having an Order Management System (OMS).

  4. Carrier Management: Handling rates, contracts, and terms for various carriers isn’t a strength of many TMSs, and is better augmented by specialist software.

  5. Real-time Tracking: Not all TMSs offer the ability to track shipments in real time, which is increasingly important to meet Just-in-Time (JIT) deliveries. Very few TMSs provide customers with access to this visibility, which is increasingly expected.

  6. Advanced Data Analysis and Reporting: Conventional TMSs might lack the sophisticated analytics capabilities required for comprehensive reporting necessary for effective decision-making, and may be incapable of cross-referencing with information gathered by other critical tools listed here.

  7. Sustainability reporting: With increased focus on sustainable supply chains, organisations need to calculate their environmental impact, like carbon emissions, which is a feature traditional TMSs often don't provide.

You know all this because you likely have many of these tools. Your problem is that you need to create a digital and integrated logistics system. The fact that your TMS doesn’t deliver this outcome to your doorstep is just a symptom of that problem.

Integrations are always better than complete solutions

Your TMS already relies on integrations, and this will always be the case. No single piece of software can run an enterprise logistics operation. What you want is a hub that can pull all those pieces together.

In that context, what you need is far narrower and more straightforward. That list really only includes…

  • Simple integrations: The hub of any system should be the easiest tool to integrate, using APIs to simplify those connections.

  • ​​Customisable interfaces: You need the ability to provide people with the right level of detail about the information that’s relevant to them.

  • Powerful analytics: If you’re going to centralise information access somewhere, you need that tool to provide advanced reporting and insights. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  • Real-time updates: An important reason for centralising control over your logistics system is to speed up operations. If you don’t have real-time information, that’s not possible.

  • End-to-end planning: Consolidating feeds from your logistic tech stack dramatically improves long-term and short-term planning. Any central hub should be equipped to help you do this with forecasting, scoring and management features.

The other thing you need to think about is how your system stays up to date. If you build a tool in-house, you need a dedicated team to stay on top of new developments in logistics technology, processes and techniques. For example, capabilities that could easily end up on the list above are sustainability reporting and the ability to provide customers direct access to track deliveries the same way you can.

The simple answer: Freight Command

At Zeus Labs, we had all of these problems when building a low-carbon GLEC-based multimodal solution and HVO Haulier Network of more than 15,000 HGVs. We actually founded the company to try and solve these problems with technology.

One solution that came out of this process is Freight Command. This started as a planning and visibility tool that could integrate with the many different TMSs used by our shippers and partners. We then started adding specialised tools to further automate operations. The outcome was an end-to-end command centre that could flexibly glue our freight management system together and fill critical capability gaps that most TMSs suffer from, including:

  1. Automated slot management: We applied advanced algorithms to remove manual steps coordinating slot and yard management to reduce lead times and increase service levels.

  2. Carrier management: We wanted to score specific providers, track performance, assign contracts and manage invoices/communication with the same tool we used for slot and transport management. Not only did this simplify operations, it helped us improve carrier relationships and reliability, and minimise reliance on spot contracts.

  3. Customer portals: Providing customers an easy way to access and track deliveries is critical to matching customer expectations. We wanted to get ahead of the curve and make this standard.

  4. Carbon reporting: Sustainability is important to customers and regulators, and the pressure will only increase. Again, we wanted to make carbon reduction easier and that starts with clearly understanding your emissions.

  5. Freight marketplace integration: Overflow capacity is important. We wanted to make it easy to manage our own Haulier Network and multimodal solution. We can now provide direct access to these services to anyone using Freight Command with Freight Connect.

Freight Command is underpinned by live reporting and dashboards that provide quick access to sharable and customisable reports able to deliver granular details and high-level takeaways about every aspect of your overland distribution operation.

The proof is in the results. By accelerating and simplifying operations, Freight Command has been able to deliver a:

  1. 24.0% reduction in Days Sales Outstanding (DOS) periods.

  2. 98.0% Delivery on Time / In Full rates

  3. 71.0% reduction in order-to-cash cycles

This is a functionality you can build yourself. But you don’t have to. We’ve got a dedicated team solely focused on continuously developing and improving the solution you already need, and can help you get set up and started now. Get an in-life demo about how Freight Command can fix your TMS today.

You'll be impressed.

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Exclusive pre-launch invite:  Zeus works with the biggest shippers in the world. Based on their frustrations, Zeus Freight Command is a fresh, new solution to a common set of problems.

Automate your sales-to-operations fulfilment and get smart digital management of all transport providers in one place.

It’s easy to be in control with Zeus.

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