Blog | July 4, 2024

How to find the right degree of digitization for your transportation management organization

From a transportation management maturity assessment to a customized strategy

In the dynamic field of transportation management, effective strategy is crucial to sustainable supply chain efficiency and optimized network performance. Our experience has shown that each organization’s circumstances and starting points vary significantly.

Traditional methodologies often advocate for complex maturity journeys, pushing for the highest levels of maturity across all dimensions. Yet, this one-size-fits-all approach fails to recognize the nuanced reality: not every industry requires peak maturity in every facet of transportation management. For example, a retail company that primarily imports full containers does not need a TMS with sophisticated operational optimization functions to consolidate individual shipments.

Instead, organizations benefit from knowing their own starting point, individual strengths and weaknesses, and finding tailored ways to improve their maturity where it will have the greatest impact.

Interested in learning more about tailored transportation management strategies based on your organization’s maturity?
Find out more in our white paper, “Unlocking archetypes in transportation management”.

Download now

A comprehensive transportation assessment

4flow’s transportation management maturity assessment considers a total of 79 processes, clustered into eight main process areas:

Transportation and network strategy: Definition of strategic guidelines for the design of the transportation network, service provider selection and other processes

Carrier management and sourcing: Efficient management and selection of carriers

Tactical transportation planning: Optimization of transportation structures on a tactical level based on forecasted transportation volumes

Transport order and preparation: Transfer of material requirements or customer orders into transport orders and transfer to involved stakeholders

Transportation execution: Operational execution with a focus on coordinating stakeholders and managing documents

Performance, reporting and analytics: Operational monitoring in real time and ex-post analysis of transportation, tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs)

Sustainability: Consideration of sustainability aspects in TM decisions and continuous tracking

Freight cost management: Settlement of freight invoices and claims

The five levels of maturity

The assessment is based on innovation, standardization and efficiency in the areas of IT, process and organization.

To assess the maturity of transportation management practices within an organization, a five-level framework is employed. In this context, an example from the area of route optimization is used to illustrate the different maturity levels:



At this early level, transportation management and optimization methods are applied irregularly. This is an early stage of initial exploration and understanding on the way to developing transportation management capabilities. For example, route optimization is sporadic, with no transparency about current network performance and a highly manual, unstructured approach.



In this stage, transportation management and optimization methods and practices are evolving but remain relatively basic. The focus is on broadening knowledge and skills within the organization to gain more competitive capabilities. For instance, regular route optimization is performed, there is transparency about network performance, but the approach is still unstructured with moderate manual effort.



At this level, common and well-established transportation management methods and practices are adopted, though they may not be on par with the latest advancements. Organizations at this stage have room to innovate and gain a competitive edge. For example, regular route optimization is conducted with a structured approach, leveraging system-based data evaluation and automatic calculation of preferred scenarios.



Organizations at this level use advanced transportation management methods and practices that set them apart. They not only adhere to proven strategies but also enhance them, serving as a model for excellence. For instance, frequent route optimization is performed with a structured approach, including automatic identification of bottlenecks, and manual optimization ideas can be modeled and calculated automatically.



At the highest level of maturity, organizations employ highly innovative methods and approaches based on cutting-edge technologies. They continuously seek new ways to improve transportation management and push the boundaries of what’s possible. For example, route optimization is frequent and in real-time, with low manual effort, fully integrated with planning, procurement and transportation, allowing for scenario-based simulations and implementation of preferred scenarios across multiple locations and modes.

Embracing tailored maturity strategies

It’s important to assess your organization’s strengths and weaknesses to improve maturity in transportation management – but keep in mind that advanced maturity in all categories is not a strategic benefit in every industry or for every organization. If a start-up's focus is rapid growth in new markets, for instance, its maturity should be sufficient to ensure customer demand is met on time. Well-established organizations with longstanding customer partnerships might choose to focus on reliability and cost optimization over innovative digital tools.

The key is embracing tailored strategy, which ensures organizations are well-positioned to succeed in the dynamic and challenging realm of transportation management.

Tailored solutions for your business

At 4flow, we conduct up to twenty transportation management (TM) maturity assessments annually for diverse businesses in various industries. In these projects, our assessment goes beyond merely evaluating an organization’s current TM maturity; we also provide tailored optimization measures with different horizons and impacts, offering a personalized approach to each organization’s unique situation.

Do you want to explore your organization’s transportation management maturity? We’re ready to support you with tailored strategies.

Contact us to start a transformation for optimization and efficiency, ensuring your organization is well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Let's get in touch



Hanka Smiejczak

Vice President
4flow consulting



Jonas Goldenstein

Principal and Head of Transportation & Networks Practice
4flow consulting