Transportation management software: Uses, benefits and features

Transportation Management Software (TMS) helps companies run their global supply chains from end to end in performant ways

Transportation management software: Uses, benefits and features

A critical software category for both asset and non-asset based companies, Transportation Management Software (TMS) helps companies run their global supply chains from end to end in performant ways. The TMS marketplace encompasses an extensive category of technology solutions, all aimed at streamlining and optimizing transportation management through a variety of features and functionalities. These solutions are multifaceted, serving a broad range of users for a wide number of use cases. 

It’s important to note that all TMS applications are not the same. For instance, drayage trucking companies can use a TMS to dispatch drivers, while an NVOCC might use a different TMS to tender loads, and a brokerage will manage customer shipments via a TMS that best suits its needs. 

This post will take a detailed look at the various types of TMS, and explore the common features and functionality offered by this critical transportation management technology. 

What is transportation management software (TMS)?

Logistics providers of all sizes and categories typically rely on TMS to serve as their operating software, alongside an ERP solution. While businesses use TMS in a variety of different ways, at its core, TMS provides operational scalability where traditional methods like email and phone fall short. 

TMS tools provide a range of features that help organizations plan, execute, and optimize their transportation operations. Common functionalities include:

  • Shipment planning and execution
  • Shipment tracking and tracing
  • Dispatch management
  • Route optimization
  • Documentation
  • Invoicing and freight payment 
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Asset management

Asset-based drayage trucking companies use drayOS — PortPro’s premier drayage TMS — to manage drivers, customers, assets, and documentation. The typical workflow within drayOS begins when a customer service representative creates a load(s) in drayOS. Next, a dispatcher dispatches the load to a driver, creating a route and adding appointment information. The driver then provides updates throughout the shipment’s journey via a mobile app connected to drayOS.

Use cases for transportation management software

The major use cases associated with TMS revolve around achieving time savings, scalability, and performance improvements. Organizations using TMS can reap these benefits thanks to the streamlined transportation management approach and increased supply chain visibility these solutions provide. 

Common TMS use cases include:

  • Load management (Key for drayage trucking companies, NVOCCs, brokers, forwarders, and expediters)
  • Load tendering (From broker to carrier) 
  • Document management (Processing of load documents, invoices, etc.)

Without TMS, brokers typically manage these tasks through an outdated and onerous workflow: tendering loads via phone, email, or EDI. By contrast, these processes are all streamlined and automated within a TMS, enabling users to operate more efficiently and effectively.

When it comes to document management, for instance, the automatic scanning, upload, and file organization available via TMS makes life easier for customer service representatives who are processing carrier and broker invoices. 

Overall, by standardizing and optimizing processes across the transportation lifecycle, TMS enables drayage businesses to improve operations and boost performance while providing better customer service. Together, these outcomes drive scalability as well as increased growth and revenue potential. 

Benefits of using TMS for drayage

As established above, TMS is as important for brokers as it is for asset-based trucking companies, regardless of whether they are running five trucks or 500 trucks. 

Drayage companies, specifically, have realized proficiencies at all levels of their organizations by using TMS across departments, from sales to customer service to operations, and driver management. Without TMS in place, drayage carriers are stuck with manual processes, including managing a plethora of Excel or Google spreadsheets and constantly updating customer portals or sending emails. Logistics without modernized transportation management tools is cumbersome and complex, requiring hours of daily busywork  just to stay on top of paperwork.

TMS digitizes and optimizes much of this workflow to enable growth as well as improved customer service and scalability. Drayage trucking companies, brokers, and 3PLs of all kinds can modernize and digitize their businesses using TMS, enabling them to scale and grow with tenacity. Without software that allows for interconnection between and among stakeholders along the supply chain, these organizations remain stuck in a bygone era. 

Essential features of transportation management software

The essential capabilities of an efficient TMS relate directly to strategic operations. System features such as document management, load management, asset management, and congruent and connected invoicing are all key. TMS also enables robust, interoperable communication —  between dispatchers and drivers via mobile apps and between carriers and brokers via API connectivity. By easily integrating with other solutions such as warehouse management systems, order management systems, and ERP systems, TMS helps to streamline the flow of data across the supply chain.

TMS functionality can vary based on the system at hand, but most offer the following key features:

Container visibility

Container visibility is a critical TMS component that is often overlooked, even within modern TMS options. Providing container visibility typically requires connectivity with third-party SaaS vendors such as terminal appointment solutions, terminal operating solutions, and warehouse management solutions, etc. — which is easier said than done. With drayOS, PortPro tackles this challenge by integrating these solutions into its TMS offering to provide that much-needed container visibility. As a result, logistics companies of all kinds can use drayOS to access information at their fingertips (and through a “single pane of glass”), instead of visiting multiple sites to find what they need.

Real-time routing

Real-time routing is a critical capability to have within a TMS tool, especially for asset-based trucking companies that regularly deal with conditions including road restrictions or carrier requirements such as using a specific route for high-value cargo. An effective TMS will incorporate information from third-party vendors to help trucking companies accommodate these restrictions and prevent accidents while also ensuring timely delivery. 

Customer-facing portal

Customer-facing portals are also a critical element to have within TMS. By using a portal that is automatically updated with load and event-status information, staff at logistics companies avoid the manual processes of sending hundreds of emails each day and maintaining those aforementioned clunky spreadsheets. 

PortPro’s approach to drayage management

PortPro provides a premier TMS solution for drayage trucking companies, NVOCCs, brokers, and forwarders. The only vendor offering TMS designed with drayage in mind, PortPro’s drayOS offers features and functionalities that address the operational challenges of modern transportation management. drayOS enables interconnectivity and fuels the digital transformation that is necessary for today’s drayage providers to overcome these challenges. 

PortPro’s TMS offering places operations at the top of the priority list to allow drayage truckers the ability to scale their business by keeping them in a “single pane of glass.” With in-app reporting, easily accessible vessel-arrival information, document management, and more all in one place, operators can empower their teams. With drayOS, users experience a modern, web-based solution that serves their needs at the right time and in the right place. 

By embracing drayOS, companies can avoid the cumbersome back office-efforts around email and the manual transposing of data. With PortPro’s TMS, logistics companies can move away from email and automate processes through digitally tendered loads, automatic status updates, and documentation management.