A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Implementing a TMS

For years, firms viewed implementing TMS tools as an expensive and time-consuming headache. But pressures from supply chain disruptions and market volatility have compelled many firms to change course. Rather than a nice-to-have accessory, transportation management systems are now must-have technology for any shipper seeking to succeed in today’s market.

Thankfully, increased adoption of TMS solutions has enabled 3PL vendors to refine and simplify implementation processes. Shippers can expect 3PL partners to coach them every step of the way and provide dedicated post-implementation support. 

“Third-party logistics providers can now leverage best practices developed throughout years of practice to make implementing a TMS solution as painless as possible,” says Josh Miller, VP of Sales at CTSI-Global.

The right 3PL partner will ask effective questions and come prepared with a robust implementation process that anticipates common pain points and setbacks. More importantly, they’ll actively participate in the process to ensure they’re addressing their client’s needs and setting them up for success. 

What to expect when implementing a TMS solution

Timelines for implementing a TMS solution, such as CTSI-Global’s Honeybee TMS, will vary according to a firm’s size and the complexity of its operations. On average, the process can take anywhere from 2 months for small shippers to 5-6 months for larger organizations. 

Regardless of company size, most TMS implementation procedures will include the following stages:

1. Project kickoff. Once the service agreement and scope of work (SOW) are in place, the vendor will meet with the client to make introductions and establish a cadence and timelines for the project. This first stage is crucial for creating alignment between implementation teams.

2. System design. The system design workshop is a two-step process:

    • Defining the current process. With the assistance of the shipper’s team, the vendor will create process flows detailing each step of the shipment process—from the time they receive an order to delivery and payment processing. This step is also an opportunity to identify pain points and improvement areas to address with the new TMS tool.
    • Defining a future state. Once the current process is defined, the vendor will outline what the process will look like once the client integrates the TMS solution in a functional specification document. This document includes the new processes’ flows and any system validations and customizations.

3. Building. Upon client approval, the vendor will use the functional specification document as a guide to building the TMS solution. In addition to interface design, the build phase includes performing any necessary integrations with the client’s existing software.

4. Testing. The testing stage usually includes two checks: unit tests and acceptance tests. The vendor’s team runs unit tests to ensure the system is functional. Acceptance tests are run by the client’s team to ensure the new system meets their needs and expectations. 

5. Training. After the client signs off on the tests, the vendor will produce documentation for training. In addition to training key users within the client’s organization, CTSI-Global’s implementation teams train their clients’ carriers on how to use the new system. This helps speed up the transition process and reduce error rates.

6. Launch and hyper-care. Once the TMS tool goes live, shippers can monitor its performance in real-life scenarios. This period is crucial for addressing blind spots and fine-tuning the TMS tool for optimal performance. CTSI-Global’s post-launch hyper-care period includes dedicated support from the implementation team—plus the client’s permanent account team. In addition, any tickets they submit requesting help or changes will have priority status for faster turnaround. Once the hyper-care period ends, shippers will continue receiving dedicated long-term support from their account team. 

Ensuring a seamless implementation process

Three factors are crucial to successfully implementing a TMS solution:

  • Quality of the 3PL vendor’s service and resources: The best providers will assign a dedicated implementation team to oversee the process and provide support throughout the post-implementation stage. CTSI-Global’s implementation teams include a project manager, technical analysts, business analysts, and an IT lead.
  • Composition of the client’s implementation team: To accurately define current processes and make sound decisions on future needs, shippers’ implementation teams must include a healthy mix of high-level decision-makers and frontline personnel. 
  • Quality of the resources assigned to support the TMS: A TMS solution’s long-term success largely depends on an organization’s people and resources, which ensure it evolves with operational needs. 

With supply chains growing more complex and unpredictable, TMS solutions have become essential for optimizing operations and protecting bottom lines. CTSI-Global’s Honeybee TMS can help shippers cut costs, improve supply chain visibility, and operate more efficiently. Contact us to learn how our suite of logistics tools can help power the future of your enterprise.