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Today's transportation management system software must function in an environment of multiple partners, while integrating smoothly with a company's other supply-chain applications. Chris Timmer, chief operating officer of LeanLogistics, talks about how the pieces all fit together.
Transportation management system (TMS) applications have entered a new phase of functionality with the arrival of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Now, says Timmer, TMS vendors can offer the technology via the internet, in a single-instance, multi-tenant environment.
In the early days of hosted software, customers worried about the security of their data within remote servers. That's not a concern anymore, Timmer says. Users have achieved a level of comfort with the model over the past 10 years. And the technology has continued to evolve in the areas of planning, execution, settlement, reporting and optimization.
What hasn't changed are customers' major pain points. As always, they are driven by the need to improve service and reduce cost. Yet dealings with carriers no longer can be based entirely on price. "They have to work more collaboratively," Timmer says. The push among TMS users today is for ever-greater levels of visibility and intelligence, not just the lowest cost of transportation.
Another key element of modern-day TMS systems is the ability to monitor carrier performance. Shippers can ensure that carriers are living up to their obligations by scrutinizing behavioral data, in areas such on-time delivery and tender rejections.
The SaaS model has also helped best-of-breed providers to distinguish their systems from those offered by enterprise vendors as part of a larger suite of applications. The features of the two options are essentially similar, says Timmer. What's different about stand-alone TMS software delivered in the cloud is its ability to put users into a community. "The environment within an SaaS model enables collaboration in a very unique way," he says, adding that best-of-breed software can easily be integrated into enterprise systems designed by other vendors.
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