A successful business depends heavily on how smart and efficient your supply chain is set up. Even the work of super salespeople lose its lustre if the logistics go awry. If a shipper wants to get a clear idea of what is working well in their business and what things could be done better, a TMS is indispensable. Not only does a TMS enable you to collect data, but you can also combine the data into a single version of the truth. Let's call it a clear picture of what is happening in your supply chain. Agile data sharing is essential for this.
Can you paint a clear picture of the supply chain?
The quality of a supply chain determines a shipper's success. You can only keep customers happy if you manage your logistics operations effectively. A sales department that is superb at selling products is a huge plus for a company, but customers will look at the quality of your service in addition to the quality and cost of your products. Do the goods arrive on time and in the right quantity? Can customers keep track of the flow of goods within the network? Painting that picture depends on two important aspects: are you collecting the right data, and can you combine the data to create valuable information? For the latter, a transport management system (TMS) is a huge help.
Compiling logistics data is a challenge for many shippers
Research by the Dutch-based trade association Evofenedex, shows that shippers still find assembling and combining logistics data to be a challenge. One main contributing factor is that it's not always clear which applications and data standards are needed across the extended supply chain. Besides, companies never seem to have enough time to get the data translations exactly how they need them to be. Or when they do get the data connections correct, they’re back to having incomplete data after a partner updates a system and changes their data schema. Exchanging data, something that is very important for those who want to understand and control the supply chain, is significantly easier with a fully-functioning TMS that is tuned to keep up with changes to your connected systems, your policies, and your network.
What makes data sharing complex?
First of all, shippers need to know what data are needed to give their customers a clear picture of the supply chain and the goods therein. Then there are all the different industry and carrier-specific communication standards, including AS2, SFTP, GS1, IATA, DCSA, UN/EDIFACT, ANSI X12, JSON, etc. With a TMS that is implemented correctly, you can define the right standard for your extended supply chain, such as asset or content definitions. You can also make agreements with your customers, suppliers, and forwarders about what data they require and what actions they perform using the data. For example, when an automatic ETA notification for an ocean container is generated, does it refer to when the ship arrives in port or when the container is released? And what do you want the forwarder to do next using that information?
A TMS takes you from data to visibility
A well-organised supply chain, where logistics applications help collect data and create 'visibility', is the basis of successful operations. Especially when shipments flow across multiple legs (or segments) using different transport modes. The goods being shipped across the world only move based on the information that is shared between organizations. Without data and visibility, products will just sit in a warehouse. Above all, data across the extended supply chain must be unambiguous, intelligible, and preferably shared automatically between the different partners. If you succeed in this - and it is significantly easier with a well-implemented TMS - you’ll open the way to even more improvements to your operations and elevate customer service.
If you’d like to learn more about Descartes’ own TMS solutions and how you can better manage your transportation network, please reach out to speak with our team and we can show you the possibilities.
2023 Global Transportation Management Benchmark Report
Descartes conducts annual benchmark research among global transportation professionals. The 2023 study reveals that higher (fuel) costs and a shortage of drivers pose challenges, while investments in visibility present opportunities.
Visit our TMS FAQ to find answers to your questions on the benefits of TMS, sustainability and visibility.