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3PL Logistics Software Solutions: 5 Best Practices


A study published in 2019 revealed that a greater number of supply chain leaders are willing to experiment with new technologies—nearly 50% of those surveyed expressed a willingness to spend more on innovation, and that number has likely grown in the meantime.

3pl logistics software solutions

From a 3PL perspective, there’s never been a better time to do exactly that. Features and capabilities that used to seem like pipe dreams are now becoming industry standards, and logistics businesses across the spectrum are finding new ways to get smarter and more efficient, particularly in the last mile. 

That being said, there’s always some risk when you’re undertaking large changes to your technology and processes. You can wind up with configuration and implementation processes being delayed, leading to a difficult go-live that extends considerably beyond the original timeline.

The implementation of a new 3PL logistics software solution is a major endeavor for any organization. But when implemented correctly, the best 3PL software can uplift all functions within an organization, helping to build a highly efficient supply chain and create a real competitive advantage.

How to Successfully Implement 3PL Logistics Software Solutions

1. Define your baseline and objectives

When building any physical structure, a strong foundation is necessary to guarantee that it will last for a long time. This is also true for a successful 3rd party logistics software deployment.

But all too often, we see companies rushing to select a logistics solution provider without having defined what they’re hoping to get out of it. This can result in a mismatch between the capabilities you’re paying for and the capabilities you actually need in order to handle deliveries more effectively.  

A better approach would be to start by identifying what you want your last mile logistics processes to look like going forward, and work backwards to see how you can make that happen with the right technology. This process should involve all the functions of a company to ensure that a logistics solution is not just about the logistical processes but also about how a company interacts with its customers.

last mile visibility guide

2. Embrace change

Prepare yourself for the possibility of a changing workflow. 3PL software solutions are developed according to best practices. In most cases, this means changing up the way you do things in a pretty significant way—which is something you’ll need to prepare your teams for. 

That said, the best 3PL software out there should make this kind of change easy by offering functionality that’s intuitive and, ultimately, significantly better from a UX perspective. Simply put, any software worth adopting will make it easier to import orders, route them efficiently, communicate with customers and drivers, and power internal and external visibility. If your software doesn’t offer these things, there’s a real possibility of significant growing pains and difficult change management processes. But when you prioritize straightforward UX and robust capabilities, your teams will quickly embrace a better, more streamlined way of doing things. 

3. Ensure effective communication among stakeholders

The deployment of new software affects all departments, making communication a key factor. Don't make the mistake of thinking that rolling out a 3PL solution only involves your IT and logistics and supply chain departments.

Employees must be trained on the new software so that they understand how it affects their job functions. The effectiveness of user adoption and the success of a new product launch are determined in large part by this. No matter how easy-to-use a piece of software is, it’s important to make it clear to everyone within the company what the change is and how it makes their lives easier. 

4. Invest in training

A training schedule is equally important when planning your 3PL software solution implementation. Again, your software adoption will offer you the most value if it’s easy-to-use, but you should make sure that everyone within the organization is set up to succeed—which means making sure everyone has the right training. 

People have different learning styles, which is why it’s important to make sure your training sessions are flexible. It is imperative to ensure that training is effective and timely, and skillsets are verifiable to ensure that employees are learning the necessary skills to be effective users of the new 3PL software to be installed. Here, it helps to verify with your software provider that they provide a certain amount of training up front; from there, you can explore the ways that you can leverage internal processes to keep everyone up-to-date and ready to work with the new delivery management tools

5. Ensure that technology is supported

One report found that a lack of understanding of digital technologies and their effects was one of greatest hindrances to supply chain digital transformation. That’s why it is crucial to either choose a 3PL solution that offers uptime and integration availability guarantees or to have IT resources available to help ensure consistent and efficient operation of the technology. 

This investment goes beyond having an efficient last mile delivery solution, but may also include connections with WMS software, barcode scanning, integrations to data sources, and much more. Even a temporary outage of parts of this solution may cause severe disruption among teams and of business operations as a whole. 

This era of unprecedented change we are experiencing will require successful 3PL logistics software solutions to change and evolve simultaneously. The availability of technical resources will enable you to keep the most critical systems up to date as technology advances, and this will ultimately help your business grow. Here, the best solution is often to opt for a cloud-native SaaS technology provider. Rather than leveraging your own IT resources for maintenance and updates, this ensures that you have continuous access to the most up-to-date versions of your tools at all times. More than that, it ensures that you’re working in a secure, scalable environment that can play nicely with your other supply chain technology solutions. 

As businesses compete in a more and competitive business environment, selecting the best 3PL logistics solution is more crucial than ever. That’s why taking these best practices into account when choosing and implementing a 3PL logistics software solution is so important. 

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