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10 Tips for Improving the Utilization of Your TMS: (#1) Internal Subject Matter Experts Are Your Key to Success

June 27, 2023

KSMTA has developed a series designed to assist carriers in extracting the most value from their existing Transportation Management Software (TMS). The suggestions shared assume that the TMS you have today is the best TMS for your organization. KSMTA recommends that carriers leverage their existing TMS technology stack to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

This article focuses on tip number one of 10 in the series.

In this dynamic and technology-driven business landscape, harnessing the expertise of subject matter experts (SMEs) is crucial for optimizing the use of your TMS. They possess an intricate understanding of your system, and their extensive exposure as a user builds knowledge of its functionalities and applications.

The foundation for ideal TMS utilization starts with understanding the significance of identifying your SMEs, highlighting their valuable traits, and exploring how sharing their expertise can maximize productivity and innovation.

Curiosity and Passion Are More Important Than Tenure

Tenure does not define a SME. SMEs possess a curious and passionate mindset. They constantly seek to explore the intricacies of the TMS, staying abreast of the latest features and updates. SMEs are driven by a genuine interest in mastering the TMS, continuously expanding their knowledge to extract the maximum potential from the technology. Their curiosity fuels a deep understanding of the TMS’ capabilities, enabling them to identify innovative solutions and create continuous improvement for the company.

Diverse SMEs Provide Holistic Software Expertise

Recognizing that no single individual can possess comprehensive expertise in all software applications, it is crucial to identify multiple SMEs within the organization. Each SME brings their unique perspective and experience, enabling the company to tap into a broad range of expertise. This diverse pool of SMEs ensures comprehensive coverage of the TMS functionalities, as often the TMS consists of more than just the Dispatch portion of an operation.

Effective Knowledge Transfer Is Key

It’s important to identify ways to share the SME’s knowledge and expertise with the rest of the organization. Some SMEs may lack the communication and teaching skills to transfer their knowledge effectively. Implementing initiatives like “Lunch & Learn” sessions and “Train the Trainer” programs are critical to ensure the dissemination of this knowledge. It is the organization’s responsibility to tap into the insights of SMEs and ensure seamless knowledge transfer throughout the workforce.

SMEs Help Drive Productivity and Cultivate Innovation

Organizations can drive productivity and cultivate innovation by identifying SMEs who possess an unwavering curiosity and passion for software. SMEs act as catalysts for change, constantly exploring new functionalities and pushing the boundaries of what the software can accomplish. Their expertise enables colleagues to navigate software-related challenges efficiently and unlock the full potential of the technology. SMEs are trusted advisors, guiding their peers toward best practices and creative problem-solving approaches. Furthermore, SMEs’ inquisitive nature fuels innovation by encouraging experimentation, fostering creative problem-solving, and promoting the adoption of emerging best practices. Companies should establish a framework and cadence for SMEs to bring issues, solutions, and potential to the table for discussion and direction. Consider creating a “TMS Steering Committee” to accomplish this goal.

How To Identify SMEs

This all begs the question, “How do I identify the SMEs in our company?” There are several ways to accomplish this. Most simply, just walk around and ask employees, “Who do you go to when you don’t know how to do something in the TMS?” You’ll quickly find that a few core names are provided. A more technical version of this solution is an online survey using free tools like Survey Monkey. A third option would be the concept of a “Feature of the Week” or “Blocker of the Week” contest. Users can post ways they use existing features to maximize efficiency, or ways they have built workarounds to get past a blocker. This can be done via an intranet site, MS Teams channel, or collected via email submissions by the training department. Identifying SMEs shouldn’t be a difficult process, but it is a critical step to moving your organization forward.

SMEs Are a Key Resource for Efficient TMS Utilization

Identifying subject matter experts (SMEs) who possess a curious mindset and passion for software mastery is crucial for optimizing the use of your TMS. Beyond tenure, the thirst for knowledge and dedication to continuous learning sets SMEs apart. Organizations can harness their expertise to drive productivity, foster innovation, and adapt to the evolving technology landscape by recognizing the need for diverse SMEs, cultivating curiosity, and implementing effective knowledge-sharing initiatives. Embracing the indispensable traits of SMEs ensures that organizations stay at the forefront of TMS utilization. SMEs possess profound system knowledge, but that value is only improved if the knowledge is shared. Leverage their knowledge and expertise to enhance overall competitiveness and success.

Our next article in the 10 Tips for Improving the Utilization of Your TMS series will highlight Tip #2: Know Your Shortcuts.

To learn more or discuss any of the ideas shared above, please contact a KSMTA advisor or complete this form.

David Dunst Director, Carrier Intelligence, KSM Transport Advisors

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