Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Key Points for You to Consider in the TMS Procurement Process

There are many reasons a company might be in the market for a transportation management system (TMS). Often at the top of the list is the need for streamlined shipping processes and visibility to all transportation activities in one technology platform. Common supply chain challenges that lead to a TMS purchase include procurement and transportation operations living as two separate functions, lack of visibility to freight movement, and limited control of freight from inbound suppliers.

Regardless of your company’s size or reason for wanting to implement a TMS, there are several key points to remember as you work through this transformative process.

Procuring a TMS starts with an investigative process

Companies that devote enough forethought and planning to the TMS decision-making process are better positioned for long-term success and return on investment. Additionally, companies that take a top-down, proactive approach to procurement versus one that’s bottom-up and reactive will experience a more efficient, productive process.

To frame your thinking throughout the buying process, remember these considerations:


Pinpoint the best-in-class solution for your business

Creating a comprehensive picture of what is expected of the TMS in each of your business units is an intrinsic part of your RFP, and it drives the buying decision. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Build templates that describe each facility in your supply chain network. Standard profiles should include details such as the volume and type of freight moved, as well as any special requirements.
  2. Capture pertinent information on suppliers and create flow diagrams for the main freight management processes in each facility.
  3. Use profiles and flow diagrams to determine a theoretical business case for a TMS investment by facility. What service gains and cost optimizations are being targeted?
  4. Have a centralized corporate procurement function in place to build consistency, structure, and common practices.

Taking this measured, thorough approach upfront will greatly payoff when you move forward with the TMS selection and implementation process. Building a holistic view of your freight network and being able to provide this information to the implementation team will help ensure proper alignment and overall success.

Final thoughts
Procuring a TMS suite is not a trivial exercise. In a widely dispersed organization, you may have to fit square pegs into round holes and bridge unexpected operational gaps. But TMS technology is now incredibly versatile, and continues to develop in line with shippers’ expanding global and organizational footprints. With the right procurement processes in place, you’ll be better positioned to choose the provider that best fits your organizational strategy.

Ready to issue an RFP for a TMS? Get a head start by downloading our customizable RFP template that helps you evaluate potential providers against your key goals and criteria.