Language Localisation

Localisation is a key component of TMS (Transportation Management System). Legacy system suffers from language localisation partly due to database design which forces the implementation to be encode in certain locales. Globalisation of application creates new solution architecture which default localisation. One of such settings is the configuration of languages and display text.

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Language Perspective

One may think languages in system is pretty straightforward. However, to a system, English does not literally mean English? Due to complexity of languages, we seek some sanity to classify languages in system. One of such classification is ISO 639. However, this is not the standard adopted by system due to different computer organisations. For instance, Windows language encoding will vary from that in Linux. The application SME (Subject Matter Expert) must be familiar with language localisation encoding across various platforms.

Future Language localisation

At present and in near future, we will see NLP (Natural Language Processing) gaining popularity like Chatbot. There will be focus for system to localise naturally from user behaviour and geolocation. Translation are real time and ML (machine learning) driven. Data locales are no longer required as data can be stored as what it is and translated as such.

Global TMS Localisation

TMS (Transportation Management System) is a system that is specific to the local countries. It may be a challenge for many to solution this as a global system. However, the trick is to know which part to localise your global TMS. Here is a sneak preview on my cookbook to globalise your local TMS.

  • Your global TMS must be configurable to handle localisation.
  • There must be good TMS SME (subject matter expert) to guide the localisation.
  • TMS SME also act as key change agent to manage the localisation process.
  • Train local Champion in the business unit.
  • Outsource TMS solutions prudently and insource your localisation knowledge.
  • Localisation is more than system requirements, you must also understand cultures, habits and even local norms.

Many organisations do not have a formal localisation teams. Do invest to train your resources on the importance of localisation. Often, these requirements are not stated and only surface during usage. Thus, an experienced implementer will consider localisation for TMS.

OTM Debugging

Today, I had spend 4 hours troubleshooting OTM (Oracle Transport Management) only to realise that the mistake was due to a change of Service Provider ID. This change was not updated in the Rate Offering. As such, the shipment planning was not able to pick up the rates. It was a very silly mistake and also shows the challenge of debugging in OTM. Anyone doing OTM will know the power of OTM debugging. Here are some debugging tips which could help anyone still doing OTM!

OTM Debugging Tips
  • Test often with each change of configuration. Use Agile to configure and test each change within a day.
  • Prepare a standard checklist for checking. This is important for Shipment Planning and rates setup.
  • Turn on your diagnostic log. It is more friendly than the log file.
  • Ask your OTM buddy for second opinion in your debugging approach. You may find new perspective.
  • Turn on your log files as last resort. The log file can either help you or discourage you. Go to the last page for the clues.

If you still unable to find the issue, rollback the change and configure your change again. This time, configure and test more aggressively. The key to debugging OTM is patience and practice. The only way is to get your hands dirty.

Agile TMS with DevOps

Unknowingly, I have spend more than 5 years with TMS (Transportation Management System) using OTM (Oracle Transportation Management) system. Overall, I enjoy the ease of configuration to deploy Agile solution using technique of DevOps. The control of global TMS solution also create high degree of adaptability for the team.

How to Agile your TMS
  • TMS have short transit window. It is favorable to adopt Agile.
  • Do design for change rather than design on sign-off requirements.
  • Configuration solution with custom plugins can cater for all TMS scenarios.
  • Determine your Agile components.
When to DevOps
  • DevOps complement Agile approach. This suits TMS because TMS contains many exceptions in the real world.
  • Use DevOps to close your loop in Agile implementation.
  • Consider to include monitoring tools or reports and analyse your data to determine your solution effectiveness.
  • TMS is usually 20% localisation. You may choose to DevOps on these localisation.

In summary, TMS needs a good product platform. You will also need to train your your TMS team to be Agile and DevOps ready.

Carbon Footprint Report

Many organization is in need of sustainability approach and strategy. A quick dirty way to start off is always the Carbon Footprint Report. So, what exactly is a Carbon Footprint Report and how can it be dirty and quick? This is 3 simple steps to start your sustainability movement using Carbon Footprint Report.

Step 1: Communicate Report Objective

In my real life experience, building a Carbon Footprint report is actually the easiest part. Most forgot to communicate the report objective to all the stakeholders. Often, the Carbon Footprint purpose is lost in translation. So, it is not surprising that its creation is a one time event and not being utilised.

Step 2: Monitor your Checkpoints

Another positive outcome you can derive from Carbon Footprint Report is the setup of checkpoints. There are many instance where the report is generated and processed as raw data. This is unproductive as you need sustainability checkpoint. The checkpoints ensure your sustainability efforts are monitored and guided in the correct direction.

Step 3: Broadcast your Win

The last part is the most important part. With one small step using Carbon Footprint Report, you can broadcast your sustainability achievements with continuing checkpoints. This reinforce your benefits of your sustainability program and creates more awareness. You may also develop a domino effect to other applications in setting this report as a key success part of all Sustainability program.

Multimodal TMS

Multimodal design is gaining in popularity for Transportation Management System (TMS). Multimodal refers to the different types of transport mode like truck, barge or air. Does multimodal creates more complexity for your TMS? Here are some tips to consider for multimodal design.

To start off with multimodal design, you will need to ensure you have expertise or SME in-house. They are required to tweak and harmonized the multimodal data.

  • Transport modes have common grounds. Look at existing data for comparison. Remember the 80/20 rule.
  • Find the common fields from your commercial who will tell you their views in cost margin and ease of selling the products.
  • Go for simplicity and ease of maintenance in your solution design. If it is more than 5 steps, consider to review and revise your solution.
  • Utilise Agile for tweaking and improvement with data.
  • Build your multimodal knowledge base. This is incremental efforts and takes time to nurture your in-house capabilities.

Multimodal design are advanced model and sign of maturity in your TMS program. Majority of TMS SME will apply various forms of multimodal approach. Till date, the best solution is not geared toward complex and elegant design but rather on simple and fast approach.

TMS Challenges Checklist

Transportation Management System (TMS) challenges are constantly hounding traditional organisations. Like Digital Transformation, it faces its fair share of challenges during system implementation. This is a simple checklist to evaluate the challenges you are expected to face in TMS implementation.

  1. Is TMS your main business?
  2. Do you have legacy TMS that are different from global TMS?
  3. Are there more than 3 stakeholders involved beside the TMS operational staffs?
  4. Is there a clear TMS strategy provided by your business team?
  5. Do you have TMS subject matter expert (SME) in your organisation?

Providing the answers to above checklist will give you a clearer picture of where your TMS implementation is heading. By having answers to the checklist, you will be better prepared. You may realise that TMS is also a digital transformation. That is why there are many similarities in the challenges. Do not make the mistake of executing TMS with just IT involvement!

TMS and Sustainability

Sustainability is the key objective of Green Logistics. With TMS, it is easier to obtain visibility to your transportation needs and move towards Green Logistics. However, this is complicated by the newness of sustainability and lack of resources in this area. So, how do you incorporate sustainability into your TMS?

Sustainability Strategy

Always start your sustainability step with a strategy.

  • Communicate a clear sustainability objective for TMS. If you aim for all, you may end up with none.
  • Sustainability is a team effort and cultural change. Conduct sustainability workshop and awareness for all levels involved with TMS.
  • Have a realistic checkpoint for each sustainability implementation in TMS. Get clear indicators and data for monitoring and improvement.
Green TMS

The switch from traditional TMS to a Green TMS will come with a significant investment. Do not be afraid to throw and reinvent new processes that encompasses sustainability. There could be old features that work well in the past and will be detrimental to Green efforts. Usually, it will take years to fully transformed into Green Logistics. However, you can never be late if you start your baby steps to Green TMS now.

Are you ready for TMS?

Transportation Management System (TMS) is gaining popularity with the need of data visibility. In reality, digitalisation has its fair share of issues that are not related to technology. This is a simple checklist to evaluate your readiness for TMS implementation.

1 min TMS Readiness Checklist
  1. Do you use data to forecast your transportation supply and demand?
  2. Do you manage long term contract to mitigate fluctuations in transportation capacity?
  3. Do you have dedicated TMS team?
  4. Do you have sustained growth in your TMS team?
Review of Checklist Results

If you answer all yes to checklist, you are likely ready to look towards using TMS to automate your transportation operations. If you do not have answers to some of the checklist, maybe it is time you look to planning for them. After all, TMS is about people, processes and system. It is not just implementation of system like a magic pill and expect to get the results instantly.

Transport Management System (TMS) 101

Transport Management System (TMS) is a system that is part of logistics with a focus on transportation. It is exciting that TMS will be going through a new phase of evolution. Like many legacy systems, the impact comes from the changes in consumer behavior and cloud technologies. For those new to TMS, this will help you provide a crash course to TMS.

What is TMS?

TMS is the system that automate the process to manage the transportation operations. This can come from the goods handover from warehouse to port port to port, or port to customers. TMS will handle the orders from customers, delivery shipments by truckers or carriers, transport tracking and payment process for the transportation move. In simple layman terms, it is the view to move goods from point A to Point B.

Benefits of TMS

The key competitor for TMS is Excel. It is surprising to see many organisations relying on Excel, phone calls and even chat applications to handle transportation needs. Often, there is no dedicated TMS team handling this domain. Everything will be recorded ultimately in Excel. Moving to the current technology landscape, you can see a major benefit of TMS will be data visibility. Customer can now see their goods moving from warehouse to delivery. Truckers can also pick and accept jobs timely leading to better truck or equipment utilisation.

Future of TMS

Soon, more organizations will be embracing TMS with Cloud technologies. Data visibility is a major push factor as customers want to know the value they are getting from transportation. The lower cost of iOT and GPS tracking has provided TMS with near real time tracking of goods movement. Green Logistics and Sustainability is another factor to get information using TMS regarding costs vs carbon footprint.