Investing in route optimisation software is a big decision for any business. The system may be responsible for managing your orders, routes, drivers and customer communications, making it an incredibly important part of your business.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right route optimisation provider for your business, taking into account everything from the technology and functionality, to the support and resources available.
We often come across businesses who have chosen the wrong provider for their specific business needs. As part of the logistics community, we want to support as many businesses as possible in making the right decision and investing their money in the right way.
That is why we have outlined some of the most important elements to consider when choosing route optimisation software.
No matter how slick a provider’s marketing is, or how charming their sales team are, if the back-end technology doesn’t perform then they are not worth considering.
Different providers will use different algorithms to produce different results. Ensure that the provider you are considering is able to plan routes daily, weekly, monthly, or however frequently you require.
The technology should also be able to dynamically produce routes which are reliable and feasible by taking into account traffic conditions and known roadworks, as well as vehicle capacities, live order volumes and delivery time windows.
If the system is able to respond to real-time events and order and schedule changes, this will give you further peace of mind that the routes are accurate and that you don’t over-promise to the end customer.
Another important element of the back-end technology is how often it is being developed. This is not only with regards to adding new features and functionality, but also with how quickly the business deals with any bugs or glitches. The latter ensures that the system remains robust, even when new functionality is added.
You can do this by viewing the provider’s release documentation, identifying how often they perform releases, and what is included in them.
A good route optimisation provider will regularly provide in-depth documentation to their customers with each release.
Of course, no matter how great the technology is, if the system and interface is difficult to use, you won’t be able to get the most out of the platform.
This is why you should always look for a provider that will offer a demonstration and free trial, so you can get a good feel and understanding for how to use the platform.
Look out for functionality such as the maps provider used, is it Google which is reliable and user friendly, or another provider which may not be as trustworthy?
Also consider if it is easy to view and change your routes, is there drag and drop functionality available for example?
Bear in mind that learning to use any new system may take a little time, so make the most out of the provider’s sales team to walk you through the interface.
Technology moves fast, which means your business needs to move fast too. That’s why it’s important that the vehicle routing software you choose is forward thinking and innovative.
Look out for cloud-based functionality to ensure that information is stored electronically, with less need to rely on documentation and paperwork. ePOD functionality is a great example of implementing a paperless operation; enabling signatures, deliveries completed, and confirmations to all be stored electronically. You can even take photos for added peace of mind and confirmation of delivery. ePOD can be used on iOS and Android devices, so is familiar and user friendly.
Customer communication is another innovative feature that is becoming increasingly essential. Customers expect to know when their orders are being delivered, and to be kept in the loop regarding estimated time of arrival and any issues that may arise. This can be done using advance, automated email and SMS communications that any good route optimization software will be able to offer.
For many businesses, integration capability is a key consideration when choosing a provider. Afterall, if the system doesn’t integrate with your existing business ecosystem, then you won’t be able to use it to its full potential.
Look out for a provider that, firstly, integrates with a wide range of systems, including CRM, ERP and telematics solutions. In addition to this, look for a platform with an open API. This means that it is even more straightforward for you to integrate with a wide range of systems and applications.
Having a first class implementation and support experience should be a key priority when selecting a vehicle routing software. This will ensure that your system and routes are properly set up, your team is trained, and that you face no ongoing issues.
Ask your provider how quickly they can get you successfully implemented. The best providers should be able to have you up and running in a matter of days, sometimes even hours.
With regards to support, ask what services and packages the provider offers. Are they happy to run online or on-site training sessions, and do you have an account manager who you can contact if a query does arise, and what hours are they available? The best providers will have extended support hours and an emergency hotline.
Lastly, what support documentation is available to you? If you are a business who would rather work out a query yourself before picking up the phone, you will require adequate documentation to do so. The best providers will offer you access to a support website or portal which includes release documentation, support guides and how-to videos.
Many route optimisation providers will hire outside of the industry and train up. However, this cannot make up for years of experience built up from a career within the industry.
The best providers will attract top industry talent. So enquire about the experience of your provider’s support team. If they are hiring the best, not only does this mean you will receive the best service, but it is also a fantastic representation of how reliable and innovative the provider is.
Another way to review the expertise of the providers is via the resources they share. Do they regularly blog and release reports and guides? Also, do they offer support documentation and self-help videos?
If so, this is all a great sign that the provider has experts on board and is part of the logistics community.
Last but not least, as with any purchase, be sure to check the reviews and customer feedback!
A great place to start is through the provider’s case studies. Do they offer a variety of case studies with reputable brands, or businesses in the same industry as you?
The best providers will even be able to put you in touch with some of their customers for a more indepth referral and view on how they are using the platform. This is a great opportunity to explore any concerns you may have with a current user.
And of course, don’t forget to check their reviews online, on websites such as Trustpilot. It’s important to flag that with providers, not only paying attention to the positive reviews, but also how they respond to any negative reviews as well, as this is a great representation of the support and reactivity of the business.
If you would like some advice on if MaxOptra is the right route optimisation provider for your business, or would like to run any queries past us, get in touch to speak to one of our industry experts.