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04 Nov 2015


Route Planning Software
1. Being aware of what you want.

Most companies cite reducing costs or increasing efficiency and customer care levels as the cause of wanting a routing system. However there could be other drivers for example responding to business growth or modifications in legislation. Whatever the reason it is vital that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the drivers are set at the start so you can accurately measure for those who have achieved your objectives.

Route Optimisation
2. Get everyone aboard.

Putting a routing system in place will require support from other departments. Start by getting senior management backing for the project. Having this in position from the outset is essential and will make it easier to introduce any necessary business change, e.g. altering driver's start times or changing how collections and deliveries are produced. It is critical that the IT department is involved while they will need to allocate time and resource to the project. Make sure you include your transport planners since they will be the main users and beneficiaries with the system.

3. Analyse your requirements.

Describe your business and transport requirements in more detail, preferably in writing. Specify what you are transporting, how products are packaged for transport, what constitutes an order, when does it need to happen, what resources (drivers and vehicles) you can find? A critical area of your operation relates to loading and unloading the vehicles, the length of time does it take, how orders may be arranged on the vehicle, any kind of packing rules that must be followed? Getting this right constitutes a real difference to your results.

4. Ensure your supplier can truly fit the bill.

Conduct a 'beauty parade' of vendors and test their capabilities by asking them to take a representative sample of one's transport data and demonstrate how it would be routed. Light beer your chosen routing system to properly 'model' your operation will be the single most important factor that you ought to spend time on. Be cautious when comparing optimised results as being a different setup can adjust the results and beware the supplier who plans to 'sort that issue out during the implementation' - their solution may well not actually work for you!

5. Evaluate support and undertake references.

Check support Service Level Agreements and make certain your chosen supplier can offer local support at the same time when you need it. Don't forget to undertake references from companies sticking with the same planning challenges - the very best reference visits will always be ones that are carried out minus the vendor present as possible then ask the really searching questions.

6. Plan the implementation.

After you have selected a vendor the next step is all about managing the changes which will be introduced into your business. This can be involve visiting customers at different times as to the they have become used to. If drivers are now going into unfamiliar territory then a Sat Nav system, preferably linked to the routing software is ideal. The planner's role could also change as a routing system eases their workload and time freed up can be spent on more productive activity.

Implementations will most likely follow a fairly standard path beginning with agreeing a detailed specification, sorting customer data, ensuring the routing strategy is interfaced with the sales or ERP system, cleaning data, installation, training, parallel running and go live. Your best vendor should have a precise methodology covering each of the above aspects. Usually of thumb, the more effort you put in to the implementation process, the faster you can go live and also the greater the scale of advantages achieved.

7. Measure what you have done.

After going live there is usually a settling in process and tweaks are made to your operational setup - this is a component of the process. However the time has come to start measuring your improved performance up against the KPIs identified in Step one. This will help to quantify the return (ROI) on the project - a thing that your senior management should see.


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