What to Do If It’s Really Time to Migrate Off Your TMS

By Mike Hane | Senior Director, Transportation, Chainalytics| 

MigrationBridgeMany leading transportation organizations have used a best-of-breed transportation management system (TMS) for 20+ years. But right now, many of these early TMS adopters (as well as even more recent entrants into the TMS space) are asking two questions they probably did not anticipate when first investing in a TMS:

  • Is it time to migrate off our current TMS?
  • If so, how do we ensure we implement the new TMS correctly?

How to Weigh Whether TMS Migration Makes Sense

Here are some top considerations when you’re contemplating migrating off your current TMS:

  1. Make sure you really need to switch your solution. If your TMS is going out of support, you have a good reason to switch your TMS provider. Likewise, the need for new capabilities like street-level routing, dynamic optimization, or trailer tracking are great reasons to switch. But disliking your TMS? This may not be a good reason. Any TMS needs to be maintained over time, and an underperforming TMS might just need some TLC.
  2. Document “tribal knowledge” business rules from current TMS users. This information may not automatically be enforced by your current TMS, since rules around how far an order date can be “stretched” are often a “best kept secret” that makes optimized load plans less useful. With some tweaks your current TMS might be able to be more effective, plus these rules should be implemented in any new TMS.
  3. Understand both current business and systems flows and new requirements. If you do decide to migrate to a new TMS this is a great opportunity to redefine these flows to increase effectiveness.
  4. Devote enough time to selecting an appropriate replacement TMS. The selection should be structured and focused on business value–not just on choosing a vendor with a good-looking demo–especially if there are new business needs driving the switch. Done correctly, a TMS selection can take several months or more.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You “Go Live” with Your New TMS

A few key things will help your TMS implementation to go a lot more smoothly:

  1. Ensure your transportation rates are correct so there’s no need to adjust them after they are uploaded into the new system.
  2. Allow several days of formal training for your key users–the personnel most disrupted by the new TMS. Make sure they feel ownership of the new system and don’t feel a worse system was thrust upon them.
  3. Take inventory of your “top 10” reports and KPIs and make sure they will be provided within 30 days of cutover from your old TMS to your new TMS. Ideally, reports like premium freight, route guide compliance and unit cost vs. budget reports are made available from day one.
  4. Make sure that the movement away from the older TMS is a business-driven project with IT involvement and not the other way around.

There are obviously many other things to consider in your TMS journey, but we’ve learned from many TMS implementations that the tips above are a great place to start.

Chainalytics Transportation Senior Director Mike Hane has worked in the transportation software and consulting services field for over 20 years, 11 of those with Chainalytics. His main focus is helping companies take costs out of transportation networks while improving customer service. He has worked on over 100 projects across many industries in North America and Europe, primarily in sourcing, fleet/mode analysis, TMS improvements, and strategic network design.

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