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8 Minute Read

Choosing the Best Route Planning Software

If you're still using pen and paper for route planning, then you are likely losing out on significant potential cost savings. Even if you're using legacy software, you may be leaving money on the table in terms of route efficiency. And that's to say nothing of the opportunity to improve your last mile delivery performance. In fact, you can significantly decrease costs and boost efficiency by using the best route planning software for your business.

best route planning software

Without the right fleet routing software, businesses face significant issues. This can include poor customer satisfaction, increased fuel expenses, higher driver attrition, and higher operating costs.

Even the most experience route planners can’t come up with the fastest or the most cost-efficient routes. At least not beyond a certain number of trucks. This is because planners cannot account for the many variables needed to find the most optimal routes.

On the other hand, a delivery route planner app can provide these benefits:

  • Find the best routes in seconds
  • Improve driver safety
  • Improve ETAs
  • Adjust plans on the fly
  • Save route planners time
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Boost customer satisfaction

Your company can enjoy these benefits and so much more when you find the best route planning software for your business. 

Finding the Best Route Planning Software

There are plenty of route planning solutions on the market. All of them have their pros and cons. But there are big differences in how well different solutions meet the needs of different businesses.

You need to pick a truck route optimization software that works for your company. To do that, you can start by considering these points before purchasing:

Strong Track Record

Buying a product from a new company is always risky. This holds true even for a route planning app. Change management is always a challenge, and what you see in a canned demo can sometimes look very different from reality.

The algorithms that powers your average route planning solution are complex. Often, they require many years of development and use before routes are fully optimized. If the solution is powered by AI, then it will get better at predicting ETAs over time. 

In this sense, it is best to choose providers that have significant experience under their belts. Look for someone with experience route planning software development who has already planned thousands of routes for various industries.

AI Integration

The number of AI use cases in logistics is increasing all the time. But one of the most powerful applications we have right now is in route optimization. AI and machine learning give you the power to analyze data from all of your previous deliveries. From there, you can generate powerful insights into predicted drive time, predicted service time, route efficiency, and more.

Routing generates more data than any human planner could possibly grapple with on their own. But with AI integration, you can turn that data into a competitive advantage. You can improve your ETAs, boost your route efficiency, and get smarter about the way you manage your routes.

The trick is to find a solution that has a real track record with this technology. AI may be trendy right now, but not all AI deployments are created equal. Again, look for a solution provider who has leveraged AI to help plan routes for thousands of delivery organizations.

Accurate ETAs

Speaking of AI: Higher customer satisfaction scores are one of the benefits of having route planner software. But you can only realize this benefit if the software you choose creates ETAs that are precise and accurate.

This is easier said than done. There are any number of factors that make it difficult to generate accurate ETAs. Drive-time differences between different vehicles and load types and different service time expectations for different delivery and installation workflows all have an impact.

But if your software can successfully account for these factors, you can make promises that your drivers are actually able to keep, all while building trust with your customers by delivering on-time consistently. Late deliveries (and sometimes even early deliveries) deliveries are one of the top complaints that modern consumers have about deliveries. So boosting on-time rates can have a huge impact on customer service

Speed

Slow route optimization processes can cause a host of downstream issues for delivery organizations. For one thing, routing processes that take hours to run require earlier order cutoffs. This means that customers who want to place orders later in the day may be out of luck.

By the same token, if your routing process is too slow, you can adapt your plans at the last minute. If something unexpected crops up on the day of delivery, you can't re-optimize routes to deal with potential changes.

That's why you want a route optimization platform that enables you to plan routes in seconds. This gives you the freedom to accept orders much later in the day without disrupting your routing process. It also gives you the flexibility to adjust your plans on the fly as conditions change. When there's a last minute cancellation or order change, you can simply rerun your routes and find a new optimal plan.

Typically, speed in route optimization comes down to software architecture. Look for a platform that is built on a scalable SaaS architecture and designed to handle thousands of trucks and routes. With a scalable, cloud-based platform, you can make sure you're platform actually runs at the speed of business.

Configurable Routing

The ideal truck routing software should enable you to add constraints as needed to help you reflect your unique routing parameters. For instance, if you might need to set variable service time expectations for different drivers or installation types. Or, you might have to build your routes around mandatory driver breaks after a set number of hours.

If you don’t have the freedom to configure your routing to your exact needs, it’s hard to provide customers with elevated delivery experiences. Consumers these days are no longer satisfied with vague, six-eight hour delivery time windows. They expect a short, guaranteed delivery window.

Of course, this should prevent your software from being user-friendly. All of the added configurations should make for an intuitive routing process that requires minimal training.

In this sense, more flexible route planning gives you an increased ability to impress customers. It also makes fleet management more efficient. How? By allowing you to optimize your routes based on distance and weight constraints, driver preferences, vehicle hauling capacities, etc.

Seamless Integration

One of the main benefits of a truck route planner is that it allows you to do away with manual processes. This includes the distribution of routes and assignments to drivers daily. A worthy route planning solution must allow you to dispatch routes to drivers via their mobile devices.

Ideally, you’ll be able to find a solution that updates ETAs in real time. This requires real-time data streams for your driver mobile app and GPS tracking. But the result is smarter management of routes that are already underway.

A route planner app that can synchronize and integrate data from various touch points across the last mile will create more seamless workflows, enabling drivers to get last-minute instructions or changes in real-time. The best route planning software will support a large number of different devices and operating systems. It will also offer flexible cloud deployment options that complement your existing IT. 

Ease of Use

Most people tend to resist any changes that might require significant extra efforts from their end. It won't be surprising if you experience some resistance within your organization when you implement a new route planning app. But this problem will be much worse if you choose software that's difficult to use.

Luckily, it’s possible to find route optimization solutions that aren’t straightforward, flexible, and easy to use. It shouldn't take hours of training and binders full of specialized information to create a basic delivery route. On the contrary, users should be able to create routes quickly and efficiently with just a small amount of training.

Naturally, your software needs to support this with strong UX principals. If you can find and implement something that fits this bill, your team will forgive you as soon as they start to see all the ways that new technology makes life easier.  

Dynamic Route Planning

There will be many instances when customers need last-minute changes. Customers also increasingly seek out on-demand deliveries. As such, it is best to choose a route planner solution that allows for last-minute changes.

In other words, you want something that enables you to make changes to route plans in real-time. This kind of dynamic route planning allows your fleet to be more flexible. To do this, your route optimization platform needs to be able to consider a large number of different parameters:

  • Customer time window requests
  • Driver speed and skill
  • Historical traffic and weather patterns
  • Load and capacity restrictions
  • Distance
  • And much more

In the end, finding the best routing software can be a challenge. You’ll need to spend some time reviewing your business' needs. And you'll need to check out the route optimization features and services offered by various solutions providers.

But the advice above can offer some valuable guidance. Seeking out a seasoned software provider with a robust, cloud-based platform should put you in an ideal position to find the best routing software for your business. 

Route optimization white paper


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