In the logistics industry, purchasing and implementing a route optimization software raises many questions. Not only for the company looking for the software, but also for us – the supplier of such a system.
Most companies we speak to for the first time do not have clear answers to our questions – and they don’t have to. But it helps to think about it beforehand. That’s why I formulated nine questions for you, the potential users of a route optimization software:
1 Do you have an available budget?
Of course, a route optimization software saves costs. That’s the first thing I try to convince companies of. But that does not alter the fact that the purchase and implementation involve spending money in the short-term. For example, for licensing and implementation, and also for internal costs. The company itself will have to free up manpower for the implementation of the system.
2 What is the reason for purchase?
That’s an obvious question, to which I often do not get a clear answer. However, that answer is important in order to be able to formulate clear objectives. Different answers are possible: saving time during planning, keeping a grip on a growing number of restrictions, better fulfilling of delivery promises, and reducing emissions .
3 What do you specifically want to achieve?
When is an implementation of a route optimization software successful? The answer is closely related to that of the previous question. Try to make the objectives as concrete as possible, so that they can be evaluated. Think of the meaning of SMART objectives: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Is this question tricky for you? Then we can help you answer it.
4 Who will carry out the project?
A project team is needed for this. This should include people from your own company, preferably also ones who understand planning. Who fits this description? And do all members of the project team support the objectives? Take it from me, based on years of experience, that unity within the project team is a precondition for a smooth and successful implementation.
5 Are interfaces with other systems needed?
Interfaces can sometimes considerably slow down a project. That’s why we prefer to clarify this point in advance. Should the route optimization software be connected to on-board computers or a transport management system (TMS)? Is that a standard system, or a system that was developed in-house? Particularly in the latter case, connecting the systems can take a lot of time.
6 Is your IT department ready for the project?
Usually I work with the manager and planners of the department that wants to implement a route optimization software. But the IT department is just as important. Do they have time for the project? And what requirements do they set for management and maintenance? Does the available server have sufficient storage and computing capacity? Or are additional investments in hardware required?
7 When is the best time to start?
When will the project team have time to start the implementation? Have team members been released to work on the project, or do they have extra tasks that add to their workload? The last thing you want, is for your customers to be burdened. Also check the project deadline. It is useful to have the route planning system up and running before the start of the high season.
8 Who will be responsible for the system?
Who needs to be trained on how to use the new software? By most estimates, the planner of the future will be a semi-IT person. Some IT knowledge is therefore desirable. And who will be responsible for ensuring that knowledge is maintained and transferred? I regularly see the quality of planning decrease when the “original” users depart a company, and their knowledge of the software disappears.
9 When is a project successful?
Most companies are happy if the project is completed on schedule and within budget. But that is not enough for a successful project. It’s crucial that the formulated objectives are achieved.
Sometimes it’s necessary to adjust or fine-tune the system after commissioning, because markets, demands and activities change. So, adjusting the parameters is something you should always do.