Differentiators in the Transportation Management System solutions
Recently a client of ours had asked a question, which TMS solution provides us with the best capabilities. There are multiple TMS solution providers in the SCM space such as i2, Manugistics, SAP, Oracle, Red Prairie, Manhattan. Though all claim to be unique in their own respects and provide a bundle of functionalities, but there is a common search for the best. The question usually rests with the respective consultant's ability to grasp the depth of the product, client needs and the client's views of the product's alignment to the business goals. So, this blog corresponds to me putting down my thoughts on the various TMS solutions available in the market. Off course this comparison would comprehensive with expert comments from the supply chain community.
Primarily, one can categorize the TMS functionalities into planning (both strategic and tactical), execution (standard OOB TMS functionalities), Financials (Freight payment and cost allocation, though not looking at TMS as a financial tool), Fleet and yard management, door to door scheduling coordination.
In a generic sense almost all products have the basic TMS functionalities in terms of tactical planning, execution and the basic financials with a small degree of variations in terms of these capabilities. But when it comes to the functionalities pertaining to strategic planning, the more specific cases of fleet & yard management and scheduling the differences start to come up. I personally feel that i2 TMS and Oracle TM cover a wide range of functionalities and can be considered as leaders within this space. With respect to Fleet and yard management, Oracle TM has some capabilities which allow it to be ranked higher as compared to other TM products. Having spent the last few years working on TMS products (primarily i2 and SAP TM), i2 TM ranks ahead in terms of various capabilities when compared to the current SAP product. Though yes, as an obvious fact the integration between SAP ERP and SAP TM would be more seamless as compared to i2 TM. Also, the TMS solutions from Manhattan, Red prairie and Manugistics do not fall much behind the leaders in terms of the various functionalities.
Another stream where I feel that various transportation management solutions have shown innovation and created a differentiation is by offering on-demand solutions. This uses the concept of SaaS by providing the application to the client as a service on demand. The customer here does not need to install the software on the site, but subscribes to the hosted application of the vendor. This innovative delivery model has greatly reduced the organization's total cost of implementation and thus helped in the early realization of benefits. Currently such solutions are being provided only by the larger product vendors. I also feel that in the years to come this innovative delivery model would pave way for a paradigm shift in the way TMS solutions would be implemented , leading to substantial cost reductions and shrunken timelines.
Do share your feedback, thoughts and comments on this topic.