Deciding to implement a Transportation Management System (TMS) will significantly augment your team’s ability to respond to changes within the supply chain, secure additional trucking capacity, and overcome everyday challenges. Unfortunately, onboarding a TMS can be among the most significant challenges and obstacles shippers face reports Supply Chain 24/7. However, shippers that take the time to understand and follow a few steps can implement and manage change successfully, deploying the TMS to its full potential.
How to Evaluate, Select & Build the Case for A TMS
1. Secure Top-Down Support
The first step to implement and manage change comes in the form of securing shareholder support for implementation. While this may be achieved in building the business case for TMS and proceeding through the TMS selection criteria, onboarding a TMS will also require a reevaluation of support from your entire organizational hierarchy. Furthermore, securing C-suite level support for your implementation and change management strategy is crucial to successful TMS use. Even though C-suite levels executives may have placed support in the past, upper-level managers and others within your organization may be reluctant to change. In other words, you may need to rebuild the business case and distributed throughout your entire organization to cultivate support for implementation.
2. Take Advantage of Available Vendor Resources for Onboarding a TMS
Your system vendor will have available resources to streamline the process for onboarding a TMS. Onboarding is about much more than merely implementing the system for use in your company. It may involve migrating data, configuring system settings, pre-defining workflows, recognizing exceptions, and much more. Fortunately, system vendors often understand these needs in advance and develop extensive resources to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible.
3. Develop a Strong Change, Project Management Team
The next step begins at the formation of a robust change management team to gain future TMS adoption by staff. This team is responsible for overseeing the entire project from implementation to its adoption throughout your organization. The change management team should be comprised of individuals from all departments, and it should implement reliable communication channels to maximize efficiency during and after implementation.
4. Create an Implementation Plan to Allocate Resources, Requirements, and Tasks
Next, the change management team should craft an implementation plan for onboarding a TMS. This plan will define the project schedule, allocate resources, define requirements for milestone achievement and the various tests associated with achieving such milestones.
5. Be Specific in Terms of Modification and Expectation
When going through the onboarding process, it is essential to be specific in terms of modification and expectation for system adoption and use. In other words, shippers must consider the impact of the modification on workers and supply chain partners. Furthermore, they should work with their existing supply chain network and partners to set realistic expectations for when the system will go live and how it will affect operations.
6. Train the “Superuser”
As explained by Talking Logistics With Adrian Gonzalez, the superuser refers to an individual that understands the inner workings of your TMS in more detail than any other individual in your company. While the superuser may be a vendor-assigned employee, it also applies to the leader of the change management team. Since this person will have a close relationship with the software vendor and its application in your company, the superuser also serves as a go-between for building rapport with existing team members and the change management team itself.
7. Begin Training Staff on Use of the System
The superuser will also be responsible for the kickoff of training for the use of the system. Unless your employees understand how to use your new TMS correctly and enter details accordingly, problems will arise. Adequate training can overcome these problems, but it is important to be realistic as well. Your team members will not learn the TMS like the back of their hand overnight, so break training sessions up into digestible, easy to remember bits. This will further the goal of building rapport with employees and encouraging the use of the system in all logistics activities.
8. Solicit Feedback from Your Employees
Onboarding is a process that requires continuous improvement. While your organization may define specific workflows for onboarding, it may lack value without input from employees. As a result, shippers should obtain feedback from employees to refine and improve the onboarding process continuously, providing that feedback to the TMS provider.
9. Use Data Within the System to Enable Informed Decision-Making and Build Continued Support
As onboarding continues, including the introduction of new supply chain partnerships, the value of data contained within the TMS will grow. Shippers should continue to use this data to build support for the use of the platform, as well as enable informed decision-making.
Fast Track Your System Onboarding
While TMS system selection can feel like the most overwhelming task in putting its transportation management system to use in your facility, the onboarding process is another animal. Shippers will face pushback from employees, a potential loss of shareholder support, trouble gaining support from other supply chain partners and unexpected delays. By setting realistic expectations at the start of onboarding a TMS and following the above steps, they can optimize the process to reduce the time to return on investment.