Many companies strive to make our lives and businesses easier. Whether voice-directed pick/pack systems or a new smart phone app, new technology and refined techniques allow complex processes to be simpler and people to be more productive.
It’s all about easy – fast – simple and doing more for less. These are the mantras for today.
In the world of TMS we need to embrace this trend. Too many TMS projects have either failed or have not been adequately maintained because of the lack of appropriate resources and necessary skillsets. As we have talked about on this forum, MS Excel is still the most used supply chain software, and it’s easy to see why. TMSs can be quite complicated. Instead of making it easier to plan and execute, often they do the opposite and provide more overhead. Yes, cost savings and automation are possible, but only for companies that can afford and retain the right resources.
Many transportation managers need functionality that’s strong enough to do the job better, but without having to program the next NASA launch to get there. Our industry has gone too far. For decades, we TMS vendors have been competing on who can add more check-boxes on an RFP, but have failed to address the unrelenting basic need for simplicity. Only very few advanced shippers/3PLs need more complex capabilities; but these have driven software developments for the last few decades – leaving a measurable gap in the marketplace.
Recently, I was on a panel at a supply chain CEO conference where the subject was trends in supply chain technology. I stated my position about how important it is to make software easier and less expensive. This was counter to the rest of the panel, and you can call me a rebel, but what was the most refreshing, and unexpected, was how many CEOs approached me afterward to express their agreement that it was time to focus on simplicity.
In most supply chain applications, I am seeing licensing costs go down 10-20% each year, including TMSs. It’s already becoming commoditized. So as TMS providers we need to create better software that does things right and opens the doors to more companies using it. Even for the largest shippers most TMS features are overkill, but yet we overcomplicate the basic needs like choosing the best mode, carrier and routing, paying freight bills and analysis.
It’s time to stop the madness and get off the “I’ve got more functionality in my TMS than you” merry-go-round. We need to impress transportation managers by addressing their real needs, easily and simply. The rest of the supply chain process is complicated enough; TMS should be making transportation easier.
JP Wiggins is the VP of Logistics at 3Gtms. JP brings more than 25 years of industry experience. He was most recently at SAP where he was the solution principal focusing on SAP’s transportation, warehouse and event management offerings in North America and previously directed industry marketing for the company’s transportation and logistics business unit. Before SAP, he was senior vice president and general manager for Descartes Systems Group’s supply chain, transportation and logistics applications business, and also had been vice president of product management for the company. Previously, JP was co-founder and senior vice president of logistics for Global Logistics Technologies (G-Log); co-founder and vice president of product management at dx/dt; and vice president of logistics at Weseley Software. He holds degrees in transportation & logistics and marketing from The Ohio State University.