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6 Minute Read

Is Good Enough Routing Really Good Enough? 

One of the surprisingly common refrains we hear from delivery organizations we talk to is that their route optimization is “good enough.” In other words, they know it’s not on the absolute cutting edge, but they feel that it’s getting the job done—or at least it’s getting the job done well enough that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle of adopting a new system.good enough routing

But here’s a secret: “good enough” route optimization usually isn’t good enough to keep businesses flexible, adaptable, and profitable in the long run. “Good enough” usually means a legacy system that hasn’t been upgraded to meet modern needs or a proprietary system that’s purpose-built for a specific use case but lacks many of the features of a modern SaaS solution. 

The systems might be getting the job done, but they usually don’t give users much room to think beyond that. If you need to reroute more frequently, or perform cost analyses on your existing routes, or connect your routing process more closely to your delivery execution or even delivery follow up, you may be out of luck. 

Likewise if you want to model potential route changes and see what the impacts on costs and delivery times might be. The simple truth is that it can be hard to keep up with evolving business needs if you don’t have software that’s built to make that possible. 

In other words, just getting the job done might not be good enough when it comes to route optimization.

Pitfalls in Delivery Routing

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of why you should be expecting—and seeking out—more from your route optimization capabilities, let’s talk a little bit about how we got here. Why is it, exactly, that route optimization can pose such a thorny challenge to distributors and other delivery organizations?

The simple answer is: complexity. If you’re delivering to a roster of clients who need recurring deliveries on the same days and at the same times each week, you can’t simply roll out a dynamic routing solution and call it a day. You have to build efficient baseline plans that cover your expected deliveries and ensure that your customers receive their orders within their preferred time slots. But, at the same time, you have to leave enough flexibility that you can accommodate the orders that come in over the course of the week. 

For a holiday weekend, you might need to roll out a completely different weekly plan to deal with higher volumes leading up to the big day. And as your business grows and evolves, your routes need to accommodate changes in your client roster or transportation network (e.g. if you’re opening up a new DC), all without losing profitability. 

And this is all without getting into the importance of matching the right drivers to the right deliveries (whether that’s because a client prefers a certain driver or because some deliveries require services that not all drivers are able to perform), ensuring that the right orders are loaded onto the right trucks for the delivery sites, keeping drivers within their available hours, etc. 

It’s not hard to see why any change to your routes or routing process presents a risk that everything will break. That’s why, for users of “good enough” legacy software systems, reroutes are often so painful and time-consuming that they can’t be undertaken frequently enough to keep up with changing needs. 

What Does the Next Generation of Route Optimization Look Like?

Most businesses deal with the complexity described above with whatever tools are available to them—and for a long time, there weren’t really any great alternatives to the kinds of legacy systems we’ve mentioned. But there are three trends that have impacted a wide swathe of technologies in recent decades that have helped move the route optimization technology market to where it is now. 

  • SaaS platforms: Back in the day, route optimization systems were deployed on-premise, which meant that sophisticated software options were inaccessible to business that couldn’t wield a large IT team with a budget to match. With the introduction of SaaS options, this paradigm totally changed. SaaS platforms enable businesses of all shapes and sizes to focus on their core competencies while leaving things like software updates, security patches, provisioning additional computing power, etc. to software providers. Crucially, SaaS solutions that are architected to scale give users the ability to run routing scenarios in a matter of minutes, which can significantly speed up the routing process. 
  • AI: AI is having a big moment right now, but AI and machine learning have actually been having an impact on numerous logistics technologies behind the scenes for many years. When it comes to route optimization, this means leveraging data from past delivery runs to predict future delivery ETAs. This enables you to plan significantly more accurately, getting more out of your capacity and bridging the gap between planning and execution in the process. 
  • Modern UX/UI: It might seem strange to put something that feels as basic as user experience on the same list as AI, but in point of fact modern UX/UI principles have a huge role to play in modern route optimization. Why? Because systems that aren’t designed with users in mind can be difficult to use effectively. When you have to bring in outside specialists—or even when just one person in the company can work your routing software—you’re effectively stuck. 

When you braid these three strands together, you get the next generation of route optimization. Modern routing software has the potential to be fast, flexible, scalable, and easy-to-use. It can enable you to reroute much more frequently and refine your routes much more quickly—just as it can help bridge the gap between planning and execution. 

With intuitive cloud-based, AI-powered software, you can evolve beyond “good enough.” You gain total control and visibility over your route optimization process, and turn routing from a source of frustration to an opportunity to delight your customers and reduce your delivery costs. 

How Does Smarter Routing Improve Your Bottom Line?

Okay, that’s all well and good in theory. But in practice, the next generation of routing software needs to offer serious potential for ROI if it’s going to be worth the costs that come with implementing new software and integrating it into your existing processes. 

At DispatchTrack, we believe that modern route optimization can more than meet that standard. Here are a few of the ways:

  • Faster, more frequent reroutes: not only can you adjust routes as needed, rather than putting it off because it takes too long, you can perform the actual routing exercise in less than half the time. This saves time and makes your routes more efficient. 
  • Automated route costing: Gain total financial visibility into your routes at the planning stage. When you directly compare the costs of different routing options, you make data-driven decisions about how best to serve your customers. 
  • Future-proof technology: No one loves a software implementation process—but compare it to the IT effort required to maintain the status quo on a legacy solution. Once a modern cloud solution is up and running, keeping it running—with the latest enhancements, updates, and integrations—is a piece of cake. 
  • More efficient route execution: When you plan strategic route plans for the week and daily route plans based on actual orders within the same system, you can make sure your routes are actually built to be executed by drivers. If you need to make an adjustment, you can do it in one screen and have it automatically imported to the other.

None of these benefits are simply “nice to have.” When you stick with what’s merely good enough, you miss out on the opportunity to save money on your last mile logistics across the board. Since route planning and optimization is such a fundamental part of the delivery process, added flexibility and efficiency here easily translates to added flexibility and efficiency across the board. 

When you make the upgrade to next generation route optimization software, you’ll be amazed by how long you were willing to do it the old way.

DispatchTrack offers the most powerful end-to-end suite of tools for last mile logistics operators. Dispatchers, drivers, customers and clients can access our app on any device to schedule, track, modify and verify your deliveries.

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