You make think that affordable Transportation Management Systems for small business are a unicorn that doesn’t really exist. In the overall picture of supply chain management, transportation links all the pieces together. Yet for small and medium-sized companies, too often transportation management and oversight is left out of the equation, leading to disruptions, losses, and slowdowns. Part of the issue is the fact that small- and medium-sized companies lack the Transportation Management Systems to effectively manage the transportation aspect of their supply chains.
Some of the typical challenges facing small and medium-sized companies when it comes to transportation include fluctuating capacity and rates, labor shortages, rising materials costs, supply outages, and consumer demand variabilities. When faced with these issues, some of these companies must pivot and find alternate sources, change their distribution networks, or renegotiate contracts. None of these outcomes is ideal and they all disrupt smooth supply chain flow. In contrast, large corporations often have the funding to purchase expensive software applications to oversee all of their transportation operations. This leaves smaller and medium-sized operations struggling to keep up. But there are strategies to employ when it comes to transportation, even if your pockets aren’t as deep as your larger counterparts.
The best step is to automate what processes remain manual. From import/export documentation to damage and loss claims, purchase orders, and freight bills, old-school paper and spreadsheets are a detriment to smooth transportation. They carry with them high rates of error and can sometimes get lost in the system. By choosing affordable technology options you can eliminate many of these problems.
Transportation Management Systems for Small Business Exist!
Options to consider include transportation management systems (TMS), which optimize your operations. TMS software provides myriad benefits, including route optimization, which will ultimately save costs thanks to better reliability and improved on-time delivery rates. You’ll have visibility into all of your transportation and shipments, understanding where your shipments are from start to finish. If there’s a delay, you’ll receive an alert in real-time, allowing you to notify your customers. This keeps them more satisfied and more likely to keep you on as a partner. That same visibility allows you to track where bottlenecks and other inefficiencies exist within your supply chain. With this information, you can address issues and improve efficiency.
Other benefits of TMS include the ability to select the best modes of transportation, address backhaul challenges, and consolidate shipments. All of these improvements in turn improve fuel consumption, minimize emissions and speed up fulfillment operations.
Think you can’t afford a Transportation Management System?
By calculating all the savings you’ll accrue thanks to its benefits you may be able to achieve sufficient ROI to justify the investment and risk. Additionally, not all TMS packages are created equal, and today, there are affordable, high-quality options available for every sized operation. There are even free models that provide basic features like carrier selection and reporting—this can be an excellent starting point to test the waters before putting down money to purchase a new system. No matter how you start with a TMS, the important thing is to do just that—start.
Contact OPSdesign today for all your supply chain consulting needs.