With transportation management solutions offering almost 8% savings and costing as little as 10% of the estimated savings, you, as a transportation business owner, need not wonder if you should adopt a TMS. What you do need to deliberate over, is the technology partner you choose.

It helps to keep in mind that even if you have the best solution, it won’t give you expected returns if your technology partner isn’t up to the mark. You need a partner that understands the industry, has significant experience working with the technology stack you’ve chosen, that understands the unique challenges that your business is facing, and has the requisite resources to help you through the implementation and subsequent support. You need an organization that you can partner with in the true sense. Only then will you be able to harness the complete potential of the TMS you’ve chosen to fuel your business’ growth.

How will you find such a transportation technology partner? Well, you’ll have to put in as much thought and effort into making this choice, as you invest in choosing a TMS. Here are a few questions that you should to help you get started in this direction.

Do they understand the industry?

As with any other domain, relevant experience is critical to possessing the right approach to developing a solution. The team driving the solution should have experience working with 3PLs and shipping organizations. Ask for references. Study the transportation projects that they’ve driven. What technology did they work with? What was the cost of implementation? How much has support cost till date? Explore. Dig deep.

You could also track the vendors’ engagement quotient. Are they regular participants on industry platforms? Do they freely share their opinions and advice on digital forums? If yes, how would you rate the depth of their knowledge? This need not be complicated; just see if you feel engrossed. Do you want to hear/read more? Would you really like to reach out to them for advice?

Do they have the right blend of technology and processes?

Finding the right blend of technology and processes can be difficult and needs to be customized for every client. Experts with the latest technologies and techniques will know how to prevent siloed data and provide insightful recommendations for improvements across your projects. They will also provide services that will implement technologies that can be more flexible for enhancing in the future. Think of some of your recent projects completed with your technology partners – what could have been done better?

Once again, this can be understood only by studying the prospective technology partners’ past projects. Balancing the technology and processes requires a very deep level of involvement. The partner acts as an advisor, and in some cases, even a business architect. Such a technology partner would get involved into their client’s business to the extent that they not only address the current concerns, but design the IT infrastructure in a manner that would serve future needs as well. So set aside plenty of time to speak with, and study, your prospective technology partner’s clients.

Do they offer a full service experience?

This is closely tied to the previous point i.e. the depth of involvement of your technology partner. You see, some partners simply focus on the technology, its implementation, and maybe support. Others take ownership for designing the right combination of processes and the technology to drive those processes. Then there are others who look at any project as an opportunity to solve a business problem, and get involved in associated functions such as staffing, training, 24X7 support, and even diversified technology consulting.

These are all good options. For most businesses, it is difficult to focus on associated functions such as these. For instance, organizations often struggle with the lack of appropriately trained IT resources for TMS implementation. From configuring the TMS to integrating it with internal solutions like ERP and Warehouse Management System, there is a lot to be done. It helps to have a partner who can keep the engine running in top form while you focus on your core functions. So, think about what all you need to do the best for your business and choose accordingly.

Keep Moving Forward with Aptude

Aptude is your own personal IT professional services firm. We provide our clients with first class resources in a continuous, cost-containment fashion.

Our support services will free your senior IT staff from the overwhelming burden of day-to-day maintenance issues. They’ll have time to launch those new projects and applications you’ve been waiting for. Simply put, we can free up your resources and contain your costs. Let’s have a quick chat to discuss our exclusive services.

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How much do their services cost?

Technology is expensive to develop and maintain. However, there are ways to reduce cost such as having offshore teams. As per the Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey 2017 – Navigating Uncertainty, outsourcing and offshoring remain in play for CIOs, with 40 percent and 48 percent planning to increase spending in these areas respectively. It is also possible to reduce cost by having strong technical and functional consultants who, by the sheer strength of their expertise, can find ways to reduce the cost.

When you are scouting the market for technology partners, study the composition of their team. Ask for details. Check the size of their team and their locations. Look up team leaders to see how experienced they are. All these factors contribute towards inflation or reduction of cost.

More importantly, look for a partner that is truly passionate about exploring ways to reduce cost. It is hard to predict socio-political upheavals across the globe, to which the transportation industry is vulnerable to. Similarly, opportunities to reduce cost also abound. But to make use of them at the opportune moment, you need a technology partner that is invested in studying such market changes.

What is their project delivery track record?

We all know how important it is to meet deadlines. However, some organizations still fail to meet them because their time and effort estimation is off the track. As per a survey conducted by the ARC Advisory Group, only 27 per cent of their respondents indicated that timelines were met and software was fully functional at go-live. What went wrong with the rest?

When you are weighing technology partners, you need to study their record. Once again, references to the rescue! Speak to their clients and see what they did right, what could have been better managed, and to what extent were they able to meet their delivery targets. The ability to deliver on time is closely linked with experience. Steve Wilson, Senior Director at Unyson, elaborates: “Implementations often take longer than necessary because an internal stakeholder identifies new requirements near the time the TMS goes live—sometimes even after. This causes delays due to re-work, or worse yet, reduces the system’s effectiveness, which kills the project’s ROI.” So, you should look for an experienced technology partner that would go beyond the client requisition to conduct their own investigation, and identify gaps in understanding and expectations.

A critical decision

If well begun is half done, getting the right transportation technology partner is what you need to focus on to get the complete benefit of your TMS implementation initiative. As per analyst firm Forrester, “CIOs and other tech decision makers face a positive economic environment, but an uncertain political environment in 2017 and 2018.” Simultaneously, spending on software will increase by almost 10 per cent in 2017 and 2018, the report added.

What this means for you, is that despite unpredictable market, spending on IT is bound to increase. Getting an experienced transportation technology partner can help you direct the increased spending into the right buckets at the right time, and make the technology work for your business. Clearly, this decision will deeply impact your business’ future. So don’t rush. Give this exercise the time and focus it deserves. Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

Looking for a Transportation Management Solution Partner?

Aptude is a transportation systems implementation and integration innovator with nearly 20 years of IT consulting experience. As a Microsoft and Oracle Certified Gold Partner, we have the experience to get your technical solution implemented properly.

Capabilities include:

  • Business Intelligence & Reporting
  • Big Data Solutions
  • Application Support
  • Mobile App Development
  • Oracle Transportation Management

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Keep Moving Forward with Aptude

Aptude is your own personal IT professional services firm. We provide our clients with first class resources in a continuous, cost-containment fashion.

Our support services will free up your senior IT staff from the overwhelming burden of day-to-day maintenance issues. Now they’ll have time to launch those new projects and applications you’ve been waiting for. Simply put, we can free up your resources and contain your costs. Let’s have a quick chat to discuss our exclusive services.