Key Factors to Consider When Selecting a TMS Partner for Your 3PL Business

Transportation Management Systems (TMS) are primarily used by two types of companies: shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs). But 3PLs have unique requirements compared to shippers, so there are some additional factors they need to consider when evaluating and selecting a TMS solution and partner. What are those key factors, and what should other 3PLs and shippers look for? That’s what I discussed with Jeff Auslander, CEO & Managing Partner at Dynamic Logistix, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

Selecting a TMS: Build or Buy?

Historically, when 3PLs considered deploying a transportation management system, the main question they faced — because of their unique requirements relative to shippers — was whether to build a TMS in-house or buy it from a third-party vendor. Therefore, I began my discussion with Jeff by asking him how Dynamic Logistix made its decision.

“For us, time to market was key,” says Jeff. “We have a window of opportunity right now we want to seize. We have our in-house IT staff, but when I met our current partner [3Gtms, a Talking Logistics sponsor] and realized how far ahead they were and their reputation in the marketplace, that made our decision easy. We have a partner we could quickly go to market with.”

Jeff added, “A key differentiator was their responsiveness. When I had questions, 3Gtms got back to me the same day, often the same hour. We have successfully tripled our business three years in a row, which shows we made the right decision. Also, having a well-known and respected Tier 1 partner has been a plus for us when talking with prospective customers.”

Checking off the boxes

Given there are a number of full-function TMS solutions available, I asked Jeff what specifically they were looking for in a solution. He explains, “Of course we wanted the TMS to have the full list of capabilities you expect from a Tier 1 solution, but the number one factor for us was the integration hub. This is an underrated, often not talked about capability shippers absolutely must be aware of. The number one thing that delays implementations is integration [with other enterprise applications like WMS and ERP]. With our partner’s integration hub, we’re getting customers live in an average of nine weeks. Our competition is getting theirs live in nine months.”

Jeff mentioned optimization capabilities, look and feel, the use of APIs, and ease of use as other important decision factors. He also stressed the need for flexibility to configure the system to meet each customer’s and each user’s unique requirements. But he reiterated, “Getting [our customers] live quickly was the number one feature.”

Selecting a partner

Whether it’s e-commerce, tariffs, or changing world economies, the business world is changing rapidly and so must a TMS. As a result, companies are not just looking at selecting a software application; they’re looking to select a technology partner too. I asked Jeff how that factored into their decision.

“I’ve worked with four Tier 1 TMS solutions in the past and they were all solid products and great companies,” notes Jeff. “But during our evaluation I began to notice when I called key people at 3Gtms they got back to me the same day. At the time, we were a small, aspiring 3PL and even though their leadership team has a 25-year history in the business, I sensed they were in a similar position. This made me feel like they were in the same foxhole with us and that in turn would enable our customers to feel like we were in the foxhole with them. Plus, 3Gtms was willing to talk directly to and collaborate with our customers to get the job done. And they put us on their customer advisory board, which is really helpful for us and our customers. I’d say the partnership has just gotten better over the years.”

The decision process

As a way to wrap up, I asked Jeff what advice he had for other 3PLs and shippers who may be evaluating a new TMS partner. Jeff had some great thoughts on what to look for and what questions to ask, so I encourage you to watch the full episode for all the details. Then keep the discussion going by posting a comment and adding your own thoughts and experiences.