When you’ve made the decision to introduce job management software or replace an existing solution, it can be hard to know what you need the system to do – and to prioritise those needs.
We’re pulled together a series of questions specific to transport businesses that you should ask yourself to help identify what software may be best for you. After all, it’s an important investment which has a big impact on your customers, staff and the bottom line – it is worth investing time to getting it right.
1. How big is your business?
How many drivers do you have? Do you have five or fifty trucks? As a small delivery business with five trucks you may be able to manage all jobs in a spreadsheet or a whiteboard, whereas a business with twenty drivers will need a robust solution immediately. The larger the business the more likely that there is greater complexity in your set up and what it is you’re offering customers. And the more complexity your business has, the more flexibility you’ll need any job management software to have.
2. Do you need a transport management system with all the bells and whistles?
Transport management systems are complex and have many layers to them. And they definitely have a strong place in the market – for example trans-modal deliveries or transporting goods as part of a 3PL supply chain require a full-blown transport management system. However, when you’re managing a direct-to-many transport service, often you can operate just as effectively with job scheduling software with outstanding customer messaging tools (these will make sure that you have the day-to-day job scheduling and DIFOT in-hand, whilst the messaging tools will ensure your customer satisfaction ratings are through the roof). And importantly when you’re only buying software with the functionality you need, you won’t be wasting money on features that you aren’t using.
3. What do you transport? Are they simple deliveries or do you require additional support?
As mentioned above, the more complexity your business has, then you’ll need software that can adapt and flex to exactly match your business set up and processes. After all you’ve spent years fine tuning your business processes for a reason – they work for you and your customers. Having to change them to fit in with software that can’t flex is simply a crazy scenario.
The other scenario that drives complexity is compliance. Compliance can be driven by the need to comply with government regulations, such as health and safety or by contractual obligations with your customers and partners.
It is definitely worth considering upfront how to manage demurrage clauses within any software solution. After all, if you potentially face penalties for missing access times to delivery sites you may face penalties or conversely if you are kept waiting onsite and are unable to unload, then your contract may allow you to invoice for the time your driver is kept waiting. However your demurrage clause is written, if you have one, any software solution must be able to help you manage it proactively.
4. What is in your existing tech stack?
It can be all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking it will be easy to extend the license from an existing vendor to include their job management bolt-on software. The classic example here is using an existing CRM and thinking that the best scheduling and dispatch solution would be from the same vendor. Whilst sometimes it can be easy to take this approach in the immediate term, it more than likely comes at a higher cost than many other solutions. As often the cost and time taken to implement enterprise software outstrips the annual license fee of other specialist vendors in one transaction. And then you have the higher ongoing licensing costs to take into account too.
5. Can the software be easily integrated with other software?
It’s certainly worth probing any potential vendors about this as there is a wide range of acceptance of what is regarded as easily integrating. So, for example, a few vendors now offer low-code APIs which literally save hours and hours of developer time. Those APIs certainly would meet a definition of ‘easily integrates’. An integration that require you to hire a mini army of developers to write it, doesn’t.
Off-the-shelf integrations for accounting and GPS tracking software will make building out your backbone transport software solution a breeze. So, it’s worth making sure that the core functions are covered by off-the-shelf integrations where possible.
6. Is there room to grow or pivot?
We’ve all seen examples of businesses that pivoted following the pandemic outbreak in March 2020. A key determinant of the speed and success of any new business ventures at this time was the fact that the businesses were already using highly configurable software, that could be tailored easily to incorporate any new scenario.
7. Are you going to be charged every time you pick up the phone for support?
Support should be free. Some vendors view support as a cash cow and hide any fees or limits on their support services in the fine print. Ask about the support process, response times and reviews of support performance at the outset.
8. Self-configure or employ a consultant to set-up?
Software that can be self-configured wins hands down as consultancy costs stack up easily.
9. Are new features being added regularly?
Look for vendors that have a rolling programme of updates that are managed in the cloud. This means that features will be updated and rolled out behind the scenes – without the need for you to do anything.
10. What is the licensing model and upgrade path?
Does the vendor want to lock you into long-term contracts with huge upfront implementation fees? Today transport businesses need flexible contract terms to reflect their ever-changing business landscape. And huge upfront set up costs are simply out of touch with the need to be agile.
And finally when considering a new vendor, you should consider the return on your investment. How soon after onboarding will you generate meaningful change in your business and of course a return on the investment? Software that is easy to stand up and intuitive to use will give you a quicker ROI.
Now you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to start researching what software would be a good fit and should be put on your short list. If you’re looking for a 15-minute demo of how our software works for transport businesses like yours, then we’d love to show you the highlights.
Find out more about our software here.