Stop the Double-Entry Madness!

When most people think of the supply chain, they picture pallets arranged on trailers or colorful shipping containers being loaded off of ships. However, there are a lot of moving parts to the supply chain even before product starts moving from point A to point B. Getting those pallets and containers to where they need to be takes time and a lot of pre-planning. To keep the supply chain running smoothly, orders need to be received, product needs to be produced to meet demand and transport needs to be arranged for pickup.

These steps require a high degree of attention in order to work successfully. Orders are tracked by PO number, SKU and many other metrics which might encompass anything from dimension to Haz-Mat classification. Many shipping departments studiously key order information from their ERP systems to their carriers’ websites to arrange transport. In some cases, printouts are even being re-keyed into spreadsheets. For anyone who has keyed product or order information back and forth between systems, you know that it can take considerable time and be riddled with manual errors.

Technology is helping shipping departments stop the double-entry madness. By integrating purchase orders directly from their ERP system, logistics professionals can automate the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items. Integration is also two-way, meaning financial and customer service teams can gain visibility on all transactions as information flows seamlessly back to the ERP system.

By allowing order and product information to populate automatically, the need to re-key information between systems is completely eliminated. This decreases labor costs by saving time manually typing orders while simultaneously increasing order accuracy. Better order accuracy means never shipping the wrong product or quantity because of a simple typo and never having to explain to a customer why human error was to blame for your poor service.

Leveraging technology to automate a previously manual and tedious process is saving countless companies valuable time. Some companies have been slow to integrate their ERP with their TMS for fear of a long, complicated process. However, by seeking a TMS that offers a common integration approach to all ERP systems, shippers can be assured of rapid implementation and ROI. Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the-box ERP integrations. Click here to check out how we integrate with Microsoft DynamicsNetSuite and QuickBooks!

Kuebix ERP Integration Highway

The ERP Integration Highway

Many companies are discovering the benefits of using a TMS to streamline their transportation operations. A well-rounded TMS offers many modular features to support the changing needs of any type of supply chain. One of the most universally beneficial features is the ability to integrate purchase orders automatically from an ERP system directly into the TMS.

Why is integrating POs directly from an ERP so beneficial?

Integrating POs directly from an ERP system facilitates the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items, ensuring 100% order accuracy.

Since the integration is two-way, shipment data is populated back into the ERP system for record keeping and to provide stakeholders with complete visibility. This enables information down to the SKU level to be leveraged in claims management, meaning the shipper always has the information they need to protect their company’s interests. Shippers can also better understand the true landed cost of goods to make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Use the ERP Integration Highway to get started:

  1. The TMS should leverage a common middleware connector that maps ERP order and item information and automatically creates orders within the technology.
  2. These orders are stored within the TMS in preparation for shipping departments to simply scan or enter the order number into a lookup field to get rates and begin shipping.
  3. Once the order is shipped, the TMS notifies the ERP system and updates the ERP order with shipment details. (Tracking number, cost, carrier, time in transit, GL code, etc…)
  4. Each ERP highway connector includes a configurable trigger function to automatically create orders, status changes or approval processes to tell the TMS to pull the order details. This process allows for a seamless flow of data between the two systems.
  5. Once shipped within the TMS, shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Kuebix TMS leverages this methodology to provide shippers a pain-free way to integrate their ERP system directly into the TMS. The ERP Integration Highway is a common integration approach to all ERP systems, meaning the process is smooth and efficient for shippers with any ERP system. To learn more about Kuebix integrations, click here.

APIs Rising: Understanding the Newest Integration Technology

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say the shipping ecosystem owes a huge debt of gratitude to EDI. Many decades after companies in numerous industries implemented it to enable electronic communications and change the way they did business, EDI is still alive and well.

But as APIs have ascended, I’ve seen them grow in popularity as the preferred means to integrate shippers and carriers. Why? The EDI approach positions middleware and transaction processing as a sort of middleman. That can take time and create inefficiencies in the supply chain.

In the shipping world, this has given rise to wider use of application programming interfaces (API) which allow tighter integration of shippers with carriers.

APIs allow for rapid onboarding of customers and their negotiated carrier rates into the Kuebix TMS. This can be done in the time it takes to book a flight online.

When it comes to connecting to ship, APIs eliminate the middleman, and create a direct connect that delivers critical information – such as tracking info on shipments – to both parties in the transaction. Better still, APIs are the easiest way to integrate functionality into transportation management systems (TMS).

Enter Integrations

Here’s where the payoff comes. TMS vendors such as Kuebix, have created a menu of integrations that can be added to the system to support added functionalities. Customers can add purchase order, bill of lading, and shipment status and tracking to streamline these processes.

And just like a diner-friendly restaurant, items not on the standard menu can be created or customized to the specific needs of the customer shipping freight.

TMS vendors can provide standard integrations that they have developed as well as integrations created by third parties, all so you can optimize supply chain management to meet the often-top corporate priority of cutting costs in the supply chain.

Once integrations have been added to a customer’s TMS, the time savings and streamlining can really begin. And it’s the beginning of the end for inefficiencies.

Integrations You Can Count On

Let’s take carrier invoice integration as an example. The shipper receives his or her invoices in the TMS for automatic invoice audit. If an invoice does not match the agreed upon rate for the shipment, the TMS will automatically create a rate exception claim. Sound great? It should, given that you can’t squeeze savings out of a process that you don’t directly control.

How about adding a purchase and sales order integration? Logistics managers can use their TMS to simplify the creation and tracking of true landed cost down to the SKU level and streamline shipping freight.

The hits will just keep coming in the form of additional integrations. Complex EDI, SOAP or REST integrations can be simplified with a standard or customer interface that seamlessly ties into an ERP system. That’s a big part of a supply chain management strategy.

What About EDI?

The rise of API integrations doesn’t mean an end to EDI integrations by any means. But those logistics managers looking to streamline and knock time out of common processes that are essential to their supply chain operations might want to check out the API approach and available integrations.

See how a carrier 210 integration works:

 

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