Transportation Management Software Deployment: Is it better to wade first or dive right in?

08/04/2011

Transportation Management Software Deployment: Is it better to wade first or dive right in?

When it comes to transportation management software (TMS) deployment, companies are often wondering whether they should dive in head first, or test the waters with one or two facilities before completely soaking themselves with a full-scale implementation.  So what’s the better option?  It depends on a few factors.

First of all, how deep is your knowledge of your current transportation processes across locations/divisions? Just because each distribution or warehouse location is part of the same company, it doesn’t mean they share the same transportation processes. If you have a strong understanding of the processes of warehouses 1 and 2, but warehouses 3 and 4 are anybody’s guess, then it may be best to test the waters with just facilities 1 and 2. If you’ve already taken the time to map out the processes for all locations, then you may be ready for a full-scale approach.

The other thing to consider is the level of buy-in from all identified stakeholders in the TMS deployment. Are they all for the new system and accompanying improvements in processes, or are they dead-set on keeping things the way they are? If you’ve only received buy-in from key personnel at one or two locations, then it may be best to test deployment at those facilities. Chances are that a successful deployment at one or two locations will help you get that much needed buy-in from those facilities that are the main resistors to change.

Finally, you’ll need to consider whether the technology can support a phased deployment approach. Is the transportation management software flexible enough to get additional locations up-and-running quickly after initial implementation at your test warehouses? Is it customizable enough to support the differences in processes across locations? Can the technology vendor or 3PL provide the flexible service options and pricing structures that are needed to support a phased approach? The answers to these questions will have an effect on your ability to test the technology at select locations.

These are just a few things to consider when deciding whether you should take a full-scale approach to TMS deployment, or whether it may be better to first test the waters. An analysis of your internal processes, levels of buy-in from company personnel, and review of system capabilities will help you select the best approach.

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