Inbound Logistics just published a good piece on how to choose the right TMS for your company. Almost makes me want to forget about that double play I recently scored against them.* Almost.
Anyway, most of the tips in this article were dead on, even if some were a little obvious. By now, where Supply Management Systems are concerned, we all know that you definitely want to pick the right size provider, check references, try before you buy, check off all of your-must haves, and consider ongoing upgrades. The good tips were the following:
- Time It
Bring a stop-watch to the demos, and keep it by your side when you try it. Does it improve efficiency? If it doesn’t, what are you paying for?
- Call Support Before You Buy
If you can’t get through now, do you think you’ll get through later?
- EDI is Essential
Whether it’s EDI, XML, API, etc., you need to be transmitting and receiving all your documents electronically. If you have to pay by the bit, watch out! There shouldn’t be transmission fees when internet connectivity costs are fixed. You can be damn sure your provider isn’t paying by the bit, they’re paying a fixed cost for a dedicated 100 MB feed to their data centre. The cost for EDI should be a low, flat rate per month (up to a certain GB limit, because if the provider goes over their dedicated transfer rates, they will pay overage charges and have to pass them on).
- Count the Cost in Money and Time
It’s not just the cost of the TMS — it’s the cost of the TMS, the hardware, the connectivity, the integration, the training, the support, etc., etc., etc. as I have outlined repeatedly (and given you a spreadsheet for). But that’s just the hard cost. If the system takes a long time to set up, a lot of manpower to maintain, and decrease efficiency when compared to the current system, then the ownership costs will continue to pile up over time.
- Can it Be Customized?
This may not be that important for you, but if it is, and the system can’t be customized effectively and cost efficiently, find a new system – ASAP.
For the rest of the advice, see the article on ten tips to choosing the right TMS for your company.