There’s only so much your business can do with spreadsheets, whiteboards and emails. At some point (perhaps right now), you’ll find yourself on the cusp of taking your business to the next level. When that happens, a broker TMS — or transportation management system — can help your organization eliminate time- and labor-intensive tasks.
But there are a lot of TMS options out there. How do you choose the right one? Like partnering with any vendor, finding the right TMS solution requires you to fully understand your process and potential providers.
To help you get started, here are five tips to procuring a broker TMS.
1. Identify your broker TMS needs
Not every TMS is created equally — or for everyone. That’s why it’s so important that you understand what you need. For example, if you’re a brokerage within a trucking company, you need a broker TMS. Or, if your brokerage doesn’t have trucks, a TMS that’s designed to manage assets won’t be your best option.
Also, buying an exceedingly advanced system that will allow your business to “grow into the TMS” is thinking about it from the wrong direction. If your trucking business has plans to expand into LTL, don’t start with an LTL solution that won’t address your current needs.
Your TMS should be able to grow with your business, not the other way around. However, it still needs to meet the needs of your core business right now.
Understanding what your organization needs will help narrow down solutions right off the bat.
2. Plan for growth
While your new TMS solution should be able to handle your immediate needs, your business will require more robust functionality as you grow. Your TMS should have the capability to keep up with the growth of your business.
Look for a TMS platform that offers addons or upgrades. Common ones include:
- Load tracking
- Rate forecasting
- API for custom builds
3. Work with internal stakeholders
A broker TMS isn’t going to be used by just your brokers. A TMS will impact other departments.
You’ll want to include them in the procurement at the right time. For example, IT should be there at the beginning, so they can understand how the TMS will work with your organization’s other existing infrastructure technologies. They’ll also probably be the ones maintaining system updates as well.
And you may want to invite accounting (or other involved stakeholders) when you receive or try product demos. They might have input on how a new TMS will work with their workflow.
4. Know the total costs of ownership
Knowing the total cost of ownership will help you decide which broker TMS will have the best return on investment. Request detailed or itemized pricing of all the modules you want. You’ll also want to know if there are future costs for:
- Patches and product updates
Be sure to factor in all the costs when you look at your budget.
5. Finding the right broker TMS provider
The people behind the software are just as important as the technology or application. Implementing the perfect solution without a partner who’s invested in training and supporting your team can easily limit what you can do.
Request demos and ask a lot of questions once you have your short list. You’ll find out which provider is just interested in selling a product versus a provider who wants to build a supportive relationship and help you succeed.
Buying a TMS is a major decision. Depending on the solution and partner, it can either help you grow faster and more efficiently, or hamstring your growth.