5 IT Questions to Ask Before Implementing a Cloud Based TMS

Not all Software as a Service (Saas) or cloud-based TMS (Transportation Management System) solutions are built with equal architecture. Selecting a provider can be a long, uncertain process, especially for those who may lack experience working with SaaS providers. There are many questions to be answered above and beyond system functionality before selecting the most appropriate solution for your specific needs and requirements. As an IT professional, I strongly recommend getting answers to these 5 mission-critical questions before selecting any vendor entrusted with all of your organization’s confidential pricing and shipment data:

1. Is the cloud based TMS solution an adaptation of an existing, locally installed solution, or was it designed from the ground up to be a cloud-based TMS solution? Solutions adapted from non-cloud origins often lack some of the functionality enjoyed by those designed to be SaaS at the outset. It may be difficult to suss out where these deficiencies lie, and the provider won’t be inclined to share such weaknesses. But be aware they exist and do your due diligence before you buy (or suffer the consequences after it’s too late to change).

2. Does the SaaS TMS solution offer the ability for unique, configurable implementations or does it require that every customer implementation is identical? This is important because if you require a custom solution somewhere in your process flow will you want to know the selected vendor will be willing and able to support it. You don’t want to be told, “We can’t do that, because then we’d have to change it for everyone…”

 

3. What processes does the vendor have in place to ensure that existing functionality is not impacted adversely by the roll out of new features? Having new features forced on you in a predefined release schedule that does not take your needs into consideration is unacceptable. Better that upgrades are performed as a collaborative effort between your team and your vendor.

4. Exactly what level of support does the solution include? Not having a clear answer to this question may result in costly, ala carte support charges which you’ll be hard pressed to avoid when inevitable challenges arise. If support is included, is it provided by the same teams that build the software itself or is it a national call center with tiered support (or worse, outsourced support to low-cost providers overseas)?

5. Is there a zero downtime failover/disaster recovery system in place to ensure that a server or network outage does not take your TMS offline? If so, ensure that the system is running off of a transactionally replicated database and not a nightly (or worse, weekly) backup. This ensures that when the system cuts over your data is up-to-date.

1. Is the cloud based TMS solution an adaptation of an existing, locally installed solution, or was it designed from the ground up to be a cloud-based TMS solution? Solutions adapted from non-cloud origins often lack some of the functionality enjoyed by those designed to be SaaS at the outset. It may be difficult to suss out where these deficiencies lie, and the provider won’t be inclined to share such weaknesses. But be aware they exist and do your due diligence before you buy (or suffer the consequences after it’s too late to change).

2. Does the SaaS TMS solution offer the ability for unique, configurable implementations or does it require that every customer implementation is identical? This is important because if you require a custom solution somewhere in your process flow will you want to know the selected vendor will be willing and able to support it. You don’t want to be told, “We can’t do that, because then we’d have to change it for everyone…”

3. What processes does the vendor have in place to ensure that existing functionality is not impacted adversely by the roll out of new features? Having new features forced on you in a predefined release schedule that does not take your needs into consideration is unacceptable. Better that upgrades are performed as a collaborative effort between your team and your vendor.

4.  Exactly what level of support does the solution include? Not having a clear answer to this question may result in costly, ala carte support charges which you’ll be hard pressed to avoid when inevitable challenges arise.  If support is included, is it provided by the same teams that build the software itself or is it a national call center with tiered support (or worse, outsourced support to low-cost providers overseas)?

5. Is there a zero downtime failover/disaster recovery system in place to ensure that a server or network outage does not take your TMS offline? If so, ensure that the system is running off of a transactionally replicated database and not a nightly (or worse, weekly) backup. This ensures that when the system cuts over your data is up-to-date.

– See more at: http://beyond.ultrashiptms.com/5-it-questions-to-ask-before-implementing-a-cloud-based-tms/#more-9473

Receiving satisfactory answers to these 5 questions can ensure you don’t encounter any nasty surprises a year or two into the contract.

Cloud based transportation management systems built by IT Director, Darren GrahamDarren Graham is the Director of IT for UltraShipTMS

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