Transportation Metrics 101: Best Practices for Measuring Any Logistics Operation

Shippers are guided by numbers every day. Volume, weight, time, dollars—these numbers dictate every shipment and every decision. But despite interacting with so much data daily, many shippers don’t have a reliable system in place for monitoring and analyzing their transportation metrics—or aren’t tracking them at all.

By regularly looking at their transportation data, shippers can keep a finger on the pulse of their operations—and maximize efficiency and profits as a result. Here are a few best practices any shipper can use to track its metrics consistently and get the most value out of them.

Outline the most important metrics to track

Before diving into the numbers, it’s important to take a step back and determine which metrics are most important or useful. Even small shippers generate vast amounts of data, so trying to track and analyze everything right off the bat can be a fool’s errand—leaving shippers stuck in analysis paralysis, unsure what to do with all the data at hand.

Instead, outline a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that are closely tied to business goals and start with these. This allows the team to dip its toes into the data water. It can also help supply chain managers get buy-in from their business leaders by showing the value of their data efforts.

Over time, it may become clear that other metrics are needed. But starting with a few and building up is better than starting with everything and getting nothing out of it.

Find a system that works

Once a shipper has determined which KPIs and other metrics it wants to track, the next step is ensuring it has a reliable system in place to gather and synthesize its data and ensure that data is high quality. When data is old, inaccurate, or incomplete, any insights generated from it are worse than meaningless—potentially misleading companies and driving poor decision making.

A robust, fully integrated transportation management system (TMS) can help companies to collect and centralize data from all their disparate systems and ensure it’s accurate and up to date. And if the system has built-in business intelligence tools, staff can quickly analyze this data to discover actionable insights.

This is especially useful if the team doesn’t have a background in data science since these tools make it easy to visualize the data in a way that’s easy to digest. They can also help supply chain managers create compelling reports to take to their leaders.

Understand the story behind the numbers—and tell a new one

It’s one thing to see trends in the numbers. It’s another thing entirely to understand why these trends are happening and make strategic changes as a result. If companies don’t act on their metrics, they might as well not track them at all.

Say the data reveals a spike in late delivery penalties. This could point to any number of issues, from erroneous shipment scheduling to poor coordination at the loading doc to a lack of communication with carriers. After recognizing the trend and identifying the root cause, the shipper could tighten a process to fix the problem, then keep a close eye on the data to see if the process is working, making adjustments over time. But without taking these steps and setting goals for improvement, all the shipper would have learned is that they’re overpaying on avoidable fees.

Measure, improve, repeat

Tracking and acting on metrics is one of the best ways to continuously improve logistics operations. Without hard data to guide their actions, shippers might as well be making decisions in the dark.

Things can change fast, and the shippers that keep on top of these changes and adjust accordingly are the ones that will survive and thrive in today’s market. CTSI-Global’s industry-leading TMS and business intelligence solutions are designed to help shippers of all sizes make smarter, data-driven decisions—optimizing their operations and growing their business along the way.

Don’t let the data go to waste. Contact us today.

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