8 Ways Supply Chain Managers can get Best Value from their TMS
Retail and FMCG

8 Ways Supply Chain Managers can get Best Value from their TMS

Nitin Mirchandani
May 19, 2022

The cloud TMS evolution has brought many opportunities to companies of all sizes around the world. It has not only brought capabilities that were previously unthinkable, but it has also given them the chance to tie into systems that they may not have had the opportunity otherwise due to cost restraints.

Yet we have seen a trend where companies aren’t entirely prepared for implementing their TMS, and they seem to struggle during the setup process. This is leading to delays that are putting a big strain on everyone in the team and so user send up getting frustrated with the new system because it isn't live when they were promised it would be.

1. Define Current Situation & the Goals to Achieve

The saying "Success doesn't happen overnight" definitely holds true. As building blocks go, having a strong foundation is crucial because it will help to ensure that the structure continues to stand up after repeated wear and tear. The same concept goes for successful TMS technology deployment as well.

Supply Chain Managers who are often pressured to make decisions quickly sometimes jump quickly to the TMS vendor they believe is the best for them, then on the first day they get a few logins they put their hands on the keyboard and start working in the system.

Instead, the team needs to start by understanding the current pain points with their supply chains processes today and set clear performance indicators that they intend to improve with the next TMS.

Instead, the team needs to start by identifying and understanding the current pain points with their supply chains processes and set clear performance indicators that they intend to improve.

2. Requirements Document

It is imperative for the TMS project team to assemble flow diagrams that illustrate, in detail, service and price points of contact with all clients, sharing their results of the investigation into the weaknesses and opportunities for optimization of operation.

The goal of the TMS RFP should be to create a picture (paint a picture in this case) of where you are and where you're heading. It should account for present and future processes.

Each of the questions or requirements should be given a score. Also, when selecting all TMS software vendors, you should determine their ratings and select those that better match your project's needs - with a few key ones being functionality, performance, and cost. And, while you're at it, make sure to ask them about training and support resources that complement their product because these are areas where some vendors are severely lacking.

3. Detailed Project Plan

A well thought out project plan with dates, those responsible for the task and contingencies is important to the success of a TMS rollout.

Before starting the TMS project rollout, a detailed plan with dates, those responsible for the task and contingencies is key to its success. If you have good contingency plans in place, then you have nothing to worry about and you can keep a positive state of mind towards even dramatic turnarounds.

Spend the money and get a strong project management software program to keep people on task and on time. The project program should have the ability to store documentation and facilitate communication on current and new issues throughout the project cycle.

4. Focus on Communication to All

It's worth repeating: a TMS deployment affects everyone within your organization, so communication is essential. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a TMS implementation is solely an IT and Logistics & Supply Chain Department project - it's everyone's responsibility.

Regardless of whether a TMS deployment is on premises or in the cloud, employees need to know how the software changes will affect their jobs and then be trained on the new tools. This can go a long way toward determining how effectively users adopt a new system and lessens the chances of things going wrong.

5. Embrace Failures

No organization wants to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a TMS deployment only to find the software is not working as per their needs.

How an organization responds to failures will help to determine how effective the new TMS system ultimately becomes for the organization. It’s important to report all failures encountered by the team to concerned support team of the vendor.

The Supply chain managers need to be positive and communicative with the vendor’s support & implementation team when the small failures come and then go when corrected.

6. Don’t Take on Too Much at the Start

As the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither will an airtight supply chain be, so remember to not try to put all of these bells and whistles in place on go-live day.

Knowing the limits is important in making a product. Too many moving parts can overwhelm the team in trying to lock down the variables that are causing issues and the end result often causes bad decisions to compound upon themselves.

All things considered, many companies rush into releasing so many new functions without paying careful attention to the overall impact. So, our suggestion is for you to go with a delayed release in the beginning and gradually introduce your game changers over time but make sure that each one is well thought out before it is actually released. Yes, the ROI will be a bit slower, but not to worry. But remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint!

7. Solid Testing Plan & Execution

To ensure that you are transitioning over to the TMS system and not just any other run-of-the-mill system, there are multiple types of tests that you should consider. The system should meet your company's business requirements before go-live. One way to begin these tests involves testing the end-to-end workflow for the application so that any possible glitches or issues can be reported and resolved as early on as possible.

Next validate the stability and reliability of the system under extremely heavy load conditions. This test is done to make sure the system will not crash under your busy times in a given day or in given seasonal business patterns.

8. Train, Train and Train

When planning your TMS deployment, you should also work out a schedule for training.

We would recommend having both asynchronous and synchronous training sessions, in addition to having written documentation for key functionality.

It is important to ensure training is timely, effective, and verifiable that the skillsets are being learned to bean effective worker on the new TMS being installed.  Missing any of these points will make for a tremendously rough go-live phase of the project.

Naveen Merudi Co Founder Qbit
Nitin Mirchandani

Alumnus from IIM Calcutta, Nitin has experience of over two decades of strategic and operational experience, building companies and SAAS businesses.

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