Part Two of our four part series looks at the question, “What are the most important transportation management questions a TMS should be able to answer?” from the perspective of a transportation manager/carrier relations director perspective. (See Part 1 here.) The following answers come courtesy of Mr. Chris Noble, Director of Carrier Relations for Ultra Logistics (UltraShipTMS’s sister company). A regular contributor to the Collaborator blog, Chris brings decades of expertise to the table, from a career including high level positions within successful organizations in the 3PL, NVOCC and warehousing/distribution center spaces. Installment 2 of 4: The Transportation Manager
Mr. Noble, what are the most important questions a state of the art TMS should be able to answer?
1 – How are my carriers performing? Are they meeting or exceeding Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and where do they rank relative to one another?
2 – Am I consistently using the least cost carriers? How often am I going to market for rates and where can I find additional contract rate/lane opportunities?
3 – What is the level of invoice accuracy and how often does the actual carrier settlement amount differ from contract rates?
4 – What opportunities exist to consolidate shipments and when can I use alternative modes of transportation to reduce the number of trucks on the road (and overall costs)?
5 – Why are “sub-optimal” decisions being made (e.g. for valid reasons like service); where is this visible; to whom; and how can they be avoided in the future?
6 – How can I best manage peak/surge periods throughout the year by contracting in advance with both asset and non-asset based partners?
7 – What mechanism can be put in place (in addition to routing guides) to manage exceptions? This should lead to a discussion of real time “reverse auction” scenarios that assist the shipper when things go wrong.
The general theme of my answers is “visibility”. You could pick the top three of top five things that are plaguing a shipper/consignee and then create the way in which a TMS will allow them to see it, plan for it or simply deal with it.
In the third installment, we’ll look at answers from a top transportation technology consultant and get his vendor-agnostic viewpoints on what questions a TMS should be able to address.
Chris Noble is Director of Carrier Relations at Ultra Logistics.