New Year - time for changes in route planning
Every company that uses its fleet to provide services, runs daily planning the work of couriers, drivers, and service technicians. The dispatcher, who assigns drivers to addresses at which specific services shall be performed, tries to organise the work of a dozen or more people in the best possible way. A sheet of paper, a pen, and access to a map in an internet browser is generally sufficient for planning, but we know that such planning is neither accurate nor efficient.
The most common customer comments
The larger the fleet and the greater the number of orders, the greater the risk that the planned activities will bring higher costs and lower quality. So why, at a time when numerous optimisation tools are available on the market, do customers prefer to stay with current, inefficient solutions?
The most common comments we hear are:
Negative customer experiences with effective route planning tools can discourage another attempt for a long time. The confusion between marketing narrative and operational reality causes disappointed Customers to simply 'let go' of looking for other solutions. The fact is that, in recent years, there has been a very wide range of route optimisation applications on the market. This means that, in the vast majority of cases, it is possible to find one that ultimately meets expectations and brings tangible benefits.
The list of customer requirements is getting longer and longer, resulting in companies managing more and more processes. Timely execution of orders, meeting time windows, interactive communication in case of delays, product variety, and real-time order information - these are just some of the expectations of Customers. This diversity means that all elements should be taken into account when configuring the system. This, in turn, requires an individual approach to the often specific processes that take place at a particular Customer. Claiming that parcel delivery by couriers from two different companies is carried out in the same way, is most often an oversimplification.
The vast majority of clients have experienced dispatchers in their ranks. Contrary to appearances, their presence is quite often cited as a reason not to introduce advanced tools that could improve their daily work. The fact that, in the event of an employee's absence (illness, holiday), the quality of planning significantly decreases, is not a sufficient argument for introducing a professional tool. Why? The main reason is ... change. Old habits, cultivated for years, on one side, and a new, unknown system on the other.
Myths about optimisation
Commonly heard myths about optimisation mean that convincing a customer to invest in a route planning tool requires a customised approach.
Some of the solutions on offer can work like this most often at the level of an individual driver installing the app on their phone. In most cases, however, the configuration of the system is required to make it consistent with the processes on the customer side.
Adverts often emphasise quick implementations, easy use, and (very) high savings. As a result, the customer expects an ideal outcome, often forgetting that the route is often optimal for a while. Any event occurring after planning - such as a vehicle breakdown, traffic incident, unannounced driver absence, or change in order conditions - make routes no longer optimal. Modern tools, on the other hand, allow unexpected situations to manage effectively, for example by reassigning orders to other drivers.
They are not. From experience, 5% is the lowest level of calculated savings for a customer who has not used scheduling automation before. So for an example fleet of 50 delivery vehicles, the costs can be reduced by leasing expenses, the usage of 2 vehicles, and the salary costs of 2 drivers. The investment in the system will represent a small percentage of these savings.
How do we work with customers?
Being aware of the process and product diversity of companies involved in distribution, servicing, and other services, we treat each client individually:
We organise a remote workshop that allows us to initially identify needs and learn about the client's expectations. Going on the road with the driver and spending a few hours with the dispatcher is an additional opportunity to observe processes and daily challenges. All this allows us to build the scope of the project and determine the parameters that will be needed for the system configuration.
Once the NDA is signed, we analyse the historical orders, within the selected scope (e.g. in one city or region). We present and discuss the optimisation results with the client. At this stage, the parameters adopted for the analysis (e.g. order processing time) are sometimes calibrated, then the analysis is repeated and finalised.
In the offer, we describe the scope of the project, the parameters applied, the modules we propose (dispatcher module, mobile application), price settlement, and implementation schedule. Upon acceptance of the offer, we prepare the contract.