While modern technological tools and systems are deeply entrenched in most industries, the logistics and transportation industry is a notable exception.
The inherent complexities, international scale, and sub-optimal legacy processes pose considerable challenges to the adoption of technology in the logistics industry.
Recently, however, various logistics software solutions providers have designed robust technological solutions that aim to simplify the freight forwarding process and optimize the operations of the logistics industry.
Amongst the prominent players in this field is Freightify, which is fast developing a reputation for providing high-quality supply chain software solutions.
Functions of Logistics Software Solutions
Logistics service providers expect a good logistics tech solution to meet their core operational and commercial requirements, which ipso facto become the desired functionalities for a logistics software solution.
The more important functionalities include:
- Ease of use
- Transparency and reliability
- Coverage and network
- Visibility and speed
- Privacy and audit logs
- Flexibility and scalability
- Analysis and reporting options
- API Integration, and portability
- Cargo tracing capacity
- Allied products
- Supplementary considerations
Steps to Build a Logistics Software Solution
Deploying a logistics software solution is a key business decision that can determine the fortunes of a forwarder, regardless of scale or size, wherefore it is imperative that due diligence be exercised in this regard.
The overall process of building a logistics software solution involves the following steps:
1) Choosing a provider
The provider should be reputed and offer services such as scalability and the ability to integrate with existing systems, besides offering top-notch data security.
2) Evaluate whether to go in for cloud-based solutions or on-premises software
Either option has pros and cons, and the decision will ultimately depend on specific requirements and budget. While on-premises software necessitates significant CAPEX, large organizations opt for it because of their scale of operations and to comply with internal security requirements.
The forwarder will have to identify and prioritize the functionalities needed and evaluate potential solutions accordingly.
4) Mobile app
Considering the proliferation of mobile devices and the need for forwarders to access and share data while on the move, developing a mobile application is a significant milestone, enabling the forwarder to quote for business promptly or reply to customers’ queries faster, thereby increasing chances of winning the business.
Is it Better to Build or Buy?
Once consensus has been reached on implementing a logistics software solution, the next obvious step is to decide whether to design and develop an in-house solution or procure one off the market.
Both approaches have their respective advantages and disadvantages regarding parameters such as time and effort required, investment outlays, functionalities, and degree of customization. However, the decision typically has to be made keeping in mind the scale and scope of operations, resource availability, and future needs.
Building an in-house solution involves an extensive commitment in terms of time, R&D, CAPEX allocation, and technical know-how, besides assuming the responsibility of end-user training and regular maintenance.
Advantages include a high degree of customization to suit the organization’s business and internal structure, as well as complete control and higher security levels.
Conversely, buying a software solution saves considerable time and eliminates the need to invest in hiring solution designers.
Also, since logistics software providers work with multiple clients, they are aware of industry-wide best practices and design their solutions accordingly.
They also offer end-user training and support, annual maintenance, and software upgrades.
On the flip side, the investment in procuring software and associated operational costs can be considerable.
Also, since the software is designed to cater to standardized processes, it might not completely align with the organization’s internal systems and processes.
Therefore, each organization must first map requirements, evaluate competing vendors, and perform a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to decide what alternative best meets its purpose.
The Do's and Don'ts of Implementing a Logistics Software Solution
Things to Do While Implementing a Logistics Software Solution
Some common best practices to follow while implementing a logistics software solution are:
1) Develop a detailed project plan
It is imperative to develop a comprehensive project plan, detailing each step and milestone and anticipating possible challenges and ways to address them. The project plan must include timelines and define the scope of responsibility for all stakeholders.
2) Get buy-in from stakeholders
If overlooked, this can doom the implementation to failure almost immediately. A successful implementation will require active support and cooperation from all stakeholders across departments and spanning hierarchy levels. If even one stakeholder is not committed to the project plan, it can derail the implementation or cause prolonged delays.
It involves evaluating competing software solutions based on functionalities, timeframe, and other selection criteria.
4) Providing adequate training and support
Once a software solution has been procured, it is equally important that end-users are trained in using the system and support is provided where required. Any omissions in this respect will translate into sub-optimal usage of the system and consequent inability to derive maximum benefits.
5) Monitoring and evaluating performance and benefits
The organization must set a mechanism to monitor the performance of the software and evaluate whether it meets the benefits enumerated in the business case.
Things to Avoid While Implementing a Logistics Software Solution
Organizations need to avoid certain pitfalls, such as:
1) Rushing into implementation
Oftentimes organizations make haste when it comes to implementation, rushing into action without taking a holistic view and considering implications for all stakeholders, thus imperiling the success of the project.
2) Neglecting user experience
Considering that the software implementation will engender a complete change in the way of working for employees down the line, neglecting the end-user experience and failing to ensure that the system is user-friendly can result in nonaccrual of the envisaged benefits.
3) Underestimating technical requirements
A prerequisite to implementing any software is to ensure that the existing IT infrastructure is capable of supporting the software and its smooth functioning. Overlooking this aspect can lead to the system not functioning as intended.
4) Ignoring potential risks
Any software implementation is fraught with risks, which can make or mar the project. It is necessary to map anticipated risks and prepare appropriate mitigation strategies.
5) Neglecting post-implementation support
If users do not get post-implementation support, they will feel that the system has been foisted on them, leading to a poor end-user experience.
Tips for Overcoming Challenges While Implementing a Logistics Software Solution
1) Resistance to change by employees
This is a common problem encountered during any organizational change. It can be managed by having open and transparent communication with employees. Explaining the need for the software, its benefits to employees, and assuaging concerns should be a priority for the management.
2) Managing data migration
Organizations should ensure that data is cleaned up and data quality is up to pre-defined standards. All data needs to be in a standardized format and preferably digitized.
3) Ensuring software integration
While procuring logistics software, companies must check for the possibility of integrating with existing systems and plan for synchronization with the company’s existing processes.
4) Ensuring safety and compliance
The proposed software and its implementation must be evaluated in light of the company’s safety policies and relevant legislative compliances. The project manager must ensure adherence to legal provisions governing data security and privacy.
5) Ongoing maintenance and updates
A maintenance schedule must be prepared to ensure that regular maintenance happens at prescribed timeframes and that system upgrades are incorporated.
Logistics software solutions have the potential to revolutionize the industry and provide a superior customer experience. Logistics service providers will inevitably have to implement these solutions to retain their competitive edge.
While implementing a logistics software solution can seem daunting, being cognizant of the tips mentioned above will facilitate smooth implementation.
Software providers like Freightify offer best-in-class solutions with reliability and superior functionality, which can ease the process and generate benefits faster.