When the product volumes are high and shipping destinations many, things can quickly get out of control. Automating with a transportation management system will help.
If things go wrong and you are unprepared, you are in for a very tough time in trying to get them under control again. These kinds of mistakes in business mean delayed deliveries, lost revenue, and angry customers.
TMS systems and components are available from many major technology companies, including IBM, SAP, Oracle, and others. There's even a free version called TheFreeTMS.
Here's how to avoid that:
Planning -- In order to ensure that goods reach their stipulated destinations in time, use technology to your advantage. Transportation management systems (TMS) provide you with a solution for your planning needs. They are able to connect carriers, shippers, and customers into a collaborative logistics network that is automated from end to end.
TMS software allows you to perform continuous and incremental planning, which means plans are automatically updated in real time for you and all your trading partners based on the changes in the business environment. TMS software can also be delivered as software-as-a-service, which means fewer IT resources, no upgrade costs, easy connectivity, and low total cost of ownership -- ideal for the SMBs.
Contingency plans -- No matter how good your plans are, at times they are subject to change. So, it is best to plan for contingencies. Using TMS, you can simulate contingency plans for delivery so that if the primary plan fails you will have a secondary strategy in place.
The advantage of simulating contingency plans is that you can also simulate the cost of these plans, and as a result, you know exactly how much additional cost will be required to deliver goods on time.
Monitoring & review -- The human factor cannot be ignored. Even with the software doing bulk of the work, the most important task is left for the employees: to monitor the entire process and make changes whenever necessary. The changes that happen on the ground must be updated in the system.
If due to any unforeseen circumstances the actual plan is no longer feasible, the users must ensure that the contingency plan has been activated and associated costs have been analyzed. Changes to the delivery routes, schedules, vehicles, etc., must be communicated to the logistics team to ensure there is no information mismatch between the logistics personnel and the information in the TMS.
Usually, this process is done through EDI -- an electronic data interchange. However, at times it must be done manually if your logistics provider is not integrated with your TMS.
The technology is paving way for the better management of the supply chain and transportation for the enterprise. It is up to you to decide if you want to opt for a technological change and reap benefits or stick to your legacy system and be vulnerable.