Transportation Management

What is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?

Understanding Transportation Management Systems

A transportation management system (also referred to as transportation management software) is a supply chain software solution that provides visibility, plans, executes, and manages every aspect of transporting goods throughout a supply chain network. TMS software is used by businesses across the globe who are looking to cut down on logistics costs and delivery time by transporting product in the most optimal way possible.

Have you ever purchased a sweater or bought something from the grocery store and wondered, where did this come from? Or how did it get here? We’ve all seen semi-trucks driving along the highway, but is its cargo hold completely full? And why did the driver take this route? There’s actually much more to that driver or product item’s journey than just going from one location to the next, and those questions can all be answered by the right TMS software. In this article, we will cover what a transportation management system (TMS) does and how it can optimize your supply chain.

What are the benefits of a modern TMS?

It is important to understand the benefits when discussing what is a transportation management system. The supply chain world took a hit during the fallout of the initial COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses were scrambling to account for the surge in online orders and consequently were behind on shipments. A large part of the derailing of transporting goods to consumers on time was due to convoluted and congested transportation methods companies were using. Legacy TMS solutions could not handle the overload of required shipments and did not possess the agility nor visibility to adapt, resulting in backed-up orders not meeting service level agreements (SLAs) and shipment delays.

Having a modern transportation management software system that is unified and connected with other supply chain solutions and built to adapt to supply chain disruptions — including fluctuations in customer demand and rising shipping rates — is imperative in today’s market (especially in a world rapidly shifting toward direct-to-consumer omnichannel fulfillment methods). Today’s TMS software must be able to modify last-minute adjustments or cancellations customers make to their order, get the most out of each volume of shipment by maximizing capacity and optimize shipment routes to ensure product is delivered as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. That is best accomplished via cloud TMS software capabilities.

What is cloud TMS software? What are the benefits of cloud TMS software?

A cloud native TMS solution is available and stored in a cloud environment via the internet, using computing power to drive resiliency, adaptability, and scalability. Cloud-native, software-as-a-service (SaaS) TMS software is versionless, meaning it has continuous access to innovation and receives automatic updates without disruption, future-proofing your TMS and eliminating the need to ever spend money on upgrades again.

It has access to real-time data and leverages that data to match, adapt, and scale to business needs. It is extensible and built to integrate with existing solutions, combining the TMS’ innovation with software already in place.

And a unified supply chain—with transportation management, labor management, and warehouse management software all working together in a symbiotic cloud environment—can unlock unprecedented supply chain agility, visibility, and execution.

What are the attributes of the best TMS on the market?

The best TMS software is a modern TMS, such as Manhattan Active® Transportation Management System, that is built with 100% microservices and is cloud native, which enables the software to be agile, extended and can take advantage of seamless upgrades. It is equipped with state-of-the-art capabilities that calculate and consider numerous transportation factors through applied intelligence, which utilizes real-time distribution planning and optimization for better, faster operational decisions.

It features capabilities such as continuous optimization, unified logistics control, fleet management, modeling, procurement and carrier management — all of which make the lives of your supply chain workers that much easier and keeps your customers satisfied. 

To work at maximum efficiency, however, the best TMS software solutions also live in a cloud environment as part of a single unified platform that brings together every aspect of distribution and transportation, unifying supply chainoperations.

Manhattan Active Supply Chain, a single app for complete command and control of all distribution, labor, automation, and now transportation, brings together inbound and outbound workflows by having Transportation, Warehouse and Labor Management Systems work in a symbiotic supply chain together, instead of separated from each other. This enables the ability to accept order changes up until the very last moment of loading and allows adjustments to warehouse receiving labor staffing based upon real-time inbound transportation activity.

Continuous Optimization

Continuous optimization of TMS software features a multi-modal optimization core that continuously modifies the network. It calculates real-time data and picks the right algorithm to generate an ideal solve for every carrier, rate, route mode, node and load. And with 18 million considerations per second, it is the industry’s fastest shipping planning engine, creating more time to make better decisions.

Unified Logistics Control

Unified Logistics Control enables creation and management of all planning and execution tasks through an intuitive and configurable user experience. It’s purposely built to help planners work smarter by providing faster and easier visualization of the transportation network. Its large, interactive maps provide a rich canvas to explore order and shipment details, with real-time details available with a click or a tap.

Fleet Management

Freight transportation management is becoming increasingly more complex. Omnichannel demand is higher than ever before and today’s customers expect their orders delivered quickly. With the right technology, fleet managers can improve levels of efficiency and productivity while simultaneously reducing transportation costs and being 100 percent compliant with government legislation.

Manhattan’s advanced fleet management technology helps users manage transportation demands by aligning all transportation resources to drive new levels of efficiencies, safety and compliance. And it uses the most advanced machine learning science to recommend routes, drivers and assets, automatically.

Transportation Modelling

Modern supply chains are being tested with consistent fluctuations in demand and disruptions. The perfect transportation plan today may not be the perfect plan for tomorrow, which is why the best TMS software is a solution that can “think” strategically and execute optimally, so the transportation network runs at the lowest cost and highest service levels.

Manhattan TMS transportation modelling capabilities uses scenario planning tools and machine learning to remove complexity and provide great flexibility. It produces sophisticated simulations based on historic and forecasted data, validating and optimizing all possible what-if scenarios to get the most out of each shipment.


Modern transportation procurement and sourcing capabilities need to be agile and able to adjust to an ever-changing supply chain network. This includes choosing the correct combination of carriers and meeting new compliance standards for ELD.

Manhattan’s transportation procurement software provides deeper visibility and insights to enhance data-driven, decision making and reduce time-consuming analysis. It offers the most powerful logistics procurement system to manage transportation bids, contract sourcing and procurement automation while standardizing the entire bid process from RFP to final contract. Its advanced technology streamlines processes and allows you to determine the ideal combination of carriers and balance price against other factors such as capacity, service and quality.

Carrier Management

Carriers have been subject to recent volatility in rising fuel prices, customer demand and driver turnover, while also having to juggle shifting freight and network balance issues. Manhattan’s TMS carrier managementcapabilities enable easy management and responsiveness to carrier complexities with cutting-edge architecture, data science and modern user experiences. It was also designed to enable seamless integration with companies within your network by providing pre-connected access to more carriers, capacity and visibility partners than ever before.

Why Manhattan Active Transportation Management System?

Manhattan is a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for Transportation Management Systems for a 5th consecutive year. See how Manhattan’s solution architecture can make a difference in supply chain operations and how it has positively impacted its customers transportation management:

Making the case for TMS: driving supply chain ROI – read the article.

Elevate your supply chain with intelligent TMS visibility – read the article.

NDCP unifies supply chain with Manhattan’s TMS and WMS solutions – read the case study.

Giant Eagle finds a route to greater efficiency with Manhattan TMS – read the case study.

Manhattan Associates helps Floor & Decor unify its supply chain – read the press release.

Manhattan Active Transportation Management transforms distribution processes across ICA Sweden’s store network – read the press release.

What does your transportation management supply chain solution look like? Request a demo or contact us to unlock the optimal transportation management software.