Transportation management is an integral piece of any successful supply chain. The speed and accuracy of deliveries made to customers are vital to maintaining happy clients and a good reputation in your industry. While it may seem as simple as getting a package from point A to point B, an effective cloud TMS system involves a number of processes that can be difficult to stay on top of without the help of software.
These systems are critical for timely deliveries and accurate shipping, with cloud TMS solutions growing in popularity as vendors try and support these practices. But before we jump into the best cloud-based TMS software on the market, let’s begin with what a transportation management platform is and how adopting the cloud is the way to go.
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What Are Transportation Management Systems?
Transportation management systems take care of a lot. Simply saying that they “streamline the shipping process” isn’t enough. These platforms do optimize shipping, but in order to accomplish this, there are many other operations that need to be considered first. Here are some features available in most TMS platforms that are integral to a well-oiled transportation operation:
- Shipment Consolidation
- Route Optimization
- Carrier Networks and Selection
- Freight Estimates and Optimizations
- Accounting and Payment Support
- Increased Visibility
As you already know, more goes into a transportation business than moving a box from a warehouse to an office. Managing all of this without the aid of software is a daunting task, not to mention trying to find the time to improve processes and cut costs. Manually seeking out carriers, keeping accurate accounting records, figuring out the best pallet layout for an optimized shipment and estimating freight costs without the help of a software solution is simply not necessary with the advances of today’s business software.
TMS solutions automate the more time-consuming and tedious processes so employees can focus on what humans do best — planning for the future and managing. So, it should be fairly evident by now how one of these systems can help out, but should you go with cloud TMS or on-premise?
Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise Deployment
While there has been some debate about which is the superior deployment method, cloud-based deployments are sure to become the go-to strategy for many businesses in the near future. Time and money are what make the world of transportation management go ‘round, and on-premise deployments are costly in both areas. But there are still many pros and cons of each deployment strategy to consider.
While on-premise deployments may be losing popularity, there are still some benefits to adopting this style:
- Everything is hosted on-site
- Allows for a high degree of control as the solution is located in-house
- Enables stronger security against online threats
- Depending on the industry, this deployment method may be the only choice
Knowing where and how your data is stored at all times can provide some comfort to those with sensitive data. However, the downsides to this deployment style can be enough to frighten those deciding between this method or the cloud:
- Time intensive integration that has to be performed in-house by skilled labor
- High sunk costs due to full license purchases
- Maintenance and upgrades are costly and time-consuming
Cloud-based deployment strategies come with some hard to ignore benefits:
- Cheap cost of entry thanks to subscription-based payment models
- Nearly unlimited storage capabilities (although be aware of hidden fees)
- Real-time maintenance and upgrades that do not require a lengthy shut down of the system
- Files are easily backed-up and recalled
- Ease of access with mobile devices
- Users can handpick integrations and customize the software to fit unique requirements
- Quick deployment
As you can see, choosing a cloud TMS over an on-premise competitor has many advantages to offer. However, while the cheaper cost of entry makes these solutions prime candidates for smaller businesses, it’s still important to be aware of the downsides.
- Relies on an internet connection
- Though these solutions are known to be very secure, they are still stored in a third-party environment that is not under your control
- More concerns involving data and privacy
- Could be vulnerable to outside attack
Now that we have seen some of the pros and cons of each deployment, we can take a look at some of the top competitors in the cloud-based TMS market. When considering a solution for purchase, be sure to keep the unique requirements of your business in mind.
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The Best Cloud-Based TMS Software
Our research team dove head-first into the cloud-based TMS market and measured up the competition. After comparing, contrasting and formulating a report, these five solutions emerged as the top choices in the cloud-based market for transportation management (listed in no particular order).
3G-TM is a multi-mode TMS solution that works well with mid-sized to large third-party logistics (3PL) providers, shippers, and other non-asset based transportation businesses. Their new partnership with TMW Systems gives this solution a competitive edge for companies partnering with private fleets or third-party carrier solutions.
Users can expect helpful features such as route mapping, financial tendering and a full suite of tools to manage the full transportation lifecycle. A full support team is available to answer questions, solve problems and provide specialized training consulting services.
Here are some more stand out benefits of 3G-TM:
TMS Health Check
3G-TM can help users maximize their operation’s productivity with explanations on best practices and expert workflows. Any integrations that have been made part of the system are monitored to ensure they are efficient additions.
A full suite of reporting tools is available to help monitor carrier metrics, delivery performance and adherence to compliance. Data visibility is valuable and can be leveraged to make important decisions about the future.
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Anything that takes the pain out of accounting is a plus. Luckily, 3G-TM contains features that handle customer billing, invoicing, auditing and the allocation of freight costs. Automation of accounting processes can prevent needless human errors that can become costly problems if unnoticed.
3G-TM contains more features focused on optimizing your transportation management tasks:
- Quick Ship Portal
- Rating and Contract Management
- Planning and Optimization
- ERP, EDI, API and Order Entry Integration Support
- Execution and Visibility