By: Mark Nix, SVP of Transportation and Founder of Cloud Logistics

TMS: Good, Bad, Ugly

After 35 years of being in the TMS industry, I’ve seen the evolution of transportation management systems: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: having a fully utilized, optimized, multi-modal TMS can save you five to 15 percent in freight costs, increase your access to carrier capacity, offer visibility into shipment status at the click of a button and offer custom reporting.

The bad: many companies leverage old technology or overly complicated solutions that are difficult to use. Different modes are cobbled into a single TMS that wasn’t designed in a modern way, making it difficult to learn and harder to use. Often, these solutions aren’t cloud-based and are outdated by the time they’re fully implemented.

The ugly: spending top-dollar on a TMS to either have a failed implementation or only use 20 percent of the capabilities so that you don’t realize the ROI you thought you were getting in your purchase. Turnover in the logistics department means the “only person” who knew how to use the TMS leaves and it becomes a lame-duck software because it’s difficult to learn.

I knew that I could combat the bad and the ugly. In 2011, I sat on the beach, pen and paper in hand, and created two dozen reasons why the TMS industry was failing its customers. Then I made a list of how those failures could be overcome.

That’s how Cloud Logistics came to life.

Why Cloud Logistics

Shippers are looking for improved, real-time visibility so that they can better predict when inbound shipments are going to arrive and let customers know if there’s anything that could possibly go wrong on the outbound side. Companies are looking for more granular information about each shipment, so features like instant messaging are important. In the past, a carrier would send updates a few times a day. Now, shippers are looking for updates every hour, or even every 15 minutes. The TMS has to be set up to take in those constant status updates and serve them up quickly, in an easy to consume format.

I created Cloud Logistics in 2012 with the goal of reinventing TMS around being user-friendly as well as providing a much faster option to go-live. Fast forward to 2015. That goal was actualized with our first same-day deployment, proving that Cloud Logistics really does offer the fastest route to value.

As I was creating the list, I thought about the iPhone and its usability. Why couldn’t a TMS be as easy to use as opening a box and switching on the power? Why shouldn’t tracking your shipments be as easy as tracking your friends on Facebook? We leveraged that concept to create the Logistics Activity Stream™ and began running TMS Made Easy™. The idea is to gain maximum ROI by deploying the system as soon as possible once your contract is signed. Getting information in real time is extremely important and possible with Cloud’s Logistics Activity Stream™, which constantly updates with shipment status. The days of playing phone tag with carriers and waiting on updates are over.

Modern TMS systems have to be able to rate a shipment, track it and handle auto pay with carriers. You have to provide reporting on carrier performance with key performance indicators. You need vendor portals so that you can integrate with a purchase order. You have to set up an electronic routing guide and allow vendors to send you advance shipping notices to update inbound shipments.

Shippers today have to balance multiple modes, including truckload, less-than-truckload, rail, parcel, ocean and air. That creates the need for global trade compliance. On top of all of that, the system needs to be easy to use. Companies don’t want to send employees away for three weeks of training, then have them come back and forget how to use the TMS. They’re looking for solutions that they can deploy and get 100-percent usage.

At Cloud Logistics, we’re modernizing outdated shipping processes to help our customers create a workflow that scales with their growing operations. Features like real-time communication, visibility, tracking and reporting and dashboards have always been important to shippers, and we’ve made it easier than ever to have all of these things and more at the touch of a button.

We were proud to make our debut appearance on the Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems in 2018. When the report was re-released in March of 2019, Cloud Logistics jumped from a Niche Player into the Challenger Quadrant. In 2018, Cloud Logistics was rated 4.9 out of five stars for ease of use by Gartner Peer Insights.

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