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What is a Transportation Management System (and Why Can't We Keep Using Excel?)

If your trucking company is struggling to get its transportation operations under control because of outdated systems, you’re in good company. Many other fleets are in the same place, and help is available. Transportation management system (TMS) software can help you scale your business—and reduce frustration.


The logistics industry is ready for an update. TMS software is here to help modernize your business while reducing costs and making for a more pleasant supply chain management experience.


Whether this is the first time you’re wondering, “What is a transportation management system?” or you have a pretty good idea of how a transportation management solution works and want a refresher, OpenRoad TMS has you covered. It’s helpful to review why using a logistics platform is a good move to ensure timely delivery of freight of goods, guarantee an efficient shipping process, and more.


By learning more about how transportation operations tools work, you’ll find you’re better equipped to decide how you want to grow your business. Let’s get started.


Why Don’t Spreadsheets Cut It Anymore?


If you’ve been in the logistics industry for a long time, you already know that not much has changed in the past few decades to modernize the systems trucking companies use for operations management. TMS software is here to change that—and to bring the logistics industry into the 21st century in an easy-to-navigate way.


But before walking you through the benefits of using a transportation management system, it’s important to first touch on why spreadsheets aren’t getting the job done anymore.


In the past, spreadsheets and loose-leaf paperwork have been fine but not efficient enough.

Now, there’s an opportunity to push past that and bring your business into the digital age. Spreadsheets are limited in their capabilities, whereas with TMS software, you can complete various tasks wherever you are, whenever you need to (as long as you have an internet connection).


Your drivers are likely having difficulty accessing spreadsheets on their mobile devices. This may result in frustration or communication glitches within your fleet. Instead, by using TMS software that offers a mobile app for drivers, you can rest assured your entire team is up to speed.


Today, cloud-based software is a leading way to ensure connectivity wherever you or your drivers go and safeguard the security of your customers’ information. Luckily, cloud-based TMS software on the market helps fill any gaps spreadsheets simply cannot.


5 Ways Spreadsheets Fall Short


There are five main ways spreadsheets fall short with operations and order management. By moving to TMS software instead, you can help guarantee your outdated spreadsheets are a thing of the past and your team is properly equipped to handle anything that comes its way.


Tasks Have to Be Manually Completed


The first reason is arguably one of the largest reasons spreadsheets fail your team: they require everything to be manually input. In today’s digital world, there’s no need for your team to waste time manually typing everything into a clunky, difficult-to-navigate spreadsheet.


You know the saying that time is money—and that’s certainly the case here. You're ultimately reducing costs by saving your team the time needed to manually input information into a spreadsheet.


Additionally, accidents happen when team members are manually inputting data. By moving to an automated system that reduces human error, you can rest assured your information will be input in a timely manner and accurately.


Information Is Disjointed


The first reason your spreadsheets aren’t cutting it anymore is that they don’t offer you a holistic view of how your company is performing. With spreadsheets, you have to toggle back and forth to find information—not to mention your team has to remember to manually update it, so there’s no guarantee the data you want will be accessible to you.


Because of this, there are often lapses in communication that can cause distress and frustration. By working with TMS software, you can ensure your information is in one easy-to-find, accessible location that your entire crew can access wherever there’s an internet connection.


Spreadsheets Aren’t Accessible to the Entire Team


For the members of your team on the road, there is limited access to the internet. Unfortunately, spreadsheets aren’t the most mobile-friendly tool, which leaves room for error, delays information input, or, in some cases, causes missing data because your fleet couldn’t access it.


There’s Not a Centralized Place for Everything


A major shortcoming of spreadsheets is how tedious it is to toggle back and forth between different tabs or systems. This is because there’s not a centralized ‘home base’ for your team to return to. For example, your trade compliance information and documentation are in one place, and product lifecycle management information may be elsewhere.


When your fleet needs to find something quickly, it’s impossible to do so because everything is spread out. When using spreadsheets, it takes your team too long to locate what they’re looking for.


Additionally, your team has likely grown frustrated in the past without a location to find everything they need. Imagine if your operations team could access fuel management insights where they find driver performance monitoring or warehouse management information. With a transportation management system, this isn’t only possible, it’s easy.


Spreadsheets Can’t Provide Business Insights


Spreadsheets can do some things that TMS software can do—but they can’t do it as seamlessly or efficiently. However, there is one thing spreadsheets are altogether incapable of doing that your TMS software could easily do, and that’s providing business insights.


If you aren’t using business insights to grow, you’re missing out. With the help of TMS software, you can learn invaluable information about your fleet, including driver performance data, access thorough mileage and fuel reports, and automatically share driver ETA with others.


4 Benefits of Using a Transportation Management System


Your spreadsheets have gotten you this far, but the reality is they aren’t going to bring your trucking business to the next level. Transportation management system software, however, can—and easily. Learn about some of the top benefits associated with it.


Easier Invoicing


If you find invoicing to be a pain (and who doesn’t?), using TMS software reduces the amount of effort to a single click. This allows you to get paid faster and eliminates any human error associated with invoicing, which is a win. Plus, you can easily manage your tools all in one place.


Store Your Documents in One Place


With cloud-based storage, documents about trade compliance, global trade management, or otherwise will never be far from reach. Additionally, using a secure cloud system ensures your sensitive information will never fall into the wrong hands.


Automate Tedious Reports


No one likes having to manually put together mileage or fuel reports—but with the help of TMS software, you don’t have to. The software will also help ensure the numbers are accurate and up-to-date.


Automate Toll and Fuel Deductions


Automating toll and fuel deductions in driver settlements can simplify the settlement process for drivers and employers. Specialized software ensures accurate and consistent deductions, generates detailed reports, and reduces administrative burden—meaning you don’t have to switch between multiple applications or spreadsheets to keep track of vital information.


Fuel card integration allows companies to monitor drivers' expenses and make necessary deductions from their pay, especially if they are owner-operators. It also helps the fleet find cost-effective options.


If companies choose not to make deductions, they can at least keep track of expenses and monitor profitability. That’s why it's important your TMS software offers these features for the best success.


Spreadsheets Prevent Trucking Companies From Growing


If you stick with using spreadsheets, your company won’t be able to grow to its full potential. Using archaic tools is holding your business back, but the good news is it is easy to make a swap. By using TMS software, you can enjoy automated tasks, accurate data that’s interconnected, greater accessibility, and a robust one-stop shop for all employees to enjoy.


Curious how adding TMS software to your company’s tech stack can make a difference? Consider a free trial of OpenRoad TMS to discover the difference eliminating your spreadsheets can make.


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