Are you a manufacturer seeking to bolster efficiency and add visibility within your transportation management processes? Or, a freight forwarder looking for a new ERP system to manage the flow of goods from start to finish?
If so, selecting the right transportation or logistics technology can prove challenging. It can feel similar to the process of finding a third-party logistics provider (3PL).
Why? Because you must consider factors such as customer service, price, existing relationships, and scalability before making a decision. But your considerations don’t stop there.
You must also take account of your organization’s values, and you must lay out a clear plan for the future of your operations. After all, a partnership with the most reputable logistics tech company in the industry will fail if your goals don’t align.
Here’s what you need to know about the ins and outs of choosing a logistics technology platform.
The Impact of Technology on Logistics
The stakes are high when it comes to logistics technology. Decisions in this area remain among the most impactful a company can make, both in short- and mid-term operational planning.
Fortunately, you can avoid many pitfalls other companies face by taking a measured approach when it comes to the selection process.
What do these pitfalls look like? They include creating a disjointed technological ecosystem prone to disfunction and silos. Or you could end up with technology that won’t scale with your business.
How do you avoid this? By drilling down into why you need a logistics solution. We’ve created the following list of steps to guide you through the process.
- Evaluating where you are and where you’d like to be
- Recognizing your company’s needs
- Exploring connectivity issues
- Planning and acting with long-term goals in mind
- Choosing with the same care you’d use for a supplier or distributor
- Knowing a company’s network of locations
- Expecting excellent customer service
- Making sure the price is right
Let’s explore each of these steps in greater detail. That way, you’ll develop a clearer picture when it comes to how to select the optimal logistics technology for your company’s needs.
Evaluate Where You Are and Where You’d Like to Be
Ask yourself these questions. Are you looking for logistics technology because your current IT environment isn’t meeting your needs? Or, perhaps you’re finding that you have new needs your current setup can’t address?
If you said “yes” to one or both of these questions, you’re not alone. Many companies are finding their existing software solutions don’t cut it when it comes to the analytical capabilities they now require. Especially for gaining value from data streams.
Other businesses are having trouble centralizing data streams (on customer requirements, routing, pricing, etc.)
Take a good hard look at your existing software. Identify what works as well as the gaps. That way, you won’t miss out on the functionality already at your fingertips, unless you find a provider that can replace it and more.
Recognize Your Company’s Needs
Now, you’ve gone through this essential process of identifying what is and isn’t working when it comes to your current logistics software solution. Next, it’s time to evaluate the various solutions available to meet your needs.
Remember that connectivity and openness are both increasingly vital features within the logistics chain. What’s more, no matter the functionality you’re searching for, don’t neglect visibility.
Why? Because if you can’t make plans available to key stakeholders and share data, your transport processes will exist at a considerable disadvantage. What’s more, disruptions will leave your system vulnerable to disconnect.
In other words, you must look for software that can root out shadow IT and reduce the presence of silos. Shadow IT occurs when individual teams don’t effectively integrate their desired functionality or software within a broader ERP system.
To avoid this problem from the get-go, opt for logistics technology that integrates well with other IT systems.
As for silos? You can reduce their presence by evaluating how easily you can access specific pieces of operational information. Three factors will come into play here.
First, how intuitive is the user interface? Second, how successfully does the software integrate with various data streams? Third, How easily does it permit employees to share data among themselves?
Explore Connectivity Issues
The whole point of supply chain and logistics technology is to streamline company processes. Connectivity remains central to this objective, not only when we’re talking about shadow IT but also in other areas related to IT infrastructure.
Connectivity remains one of the single most important criteria upon which you can evaluate a new software product.
After all, you need disparate touchpoints within your company. You also need to integrate data streams from the Internet of Things (IoT) (e.g., RFID chips and devices).
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips are placed in containers, pallets, trucks, and more. This automatic identification technology in logistics is incredible. Use it to optimize the loading and unloading of containers, providing an exceptional level of visibility.
A fantastic software system can integrate all of these moving parts, providing you with a diagram of the ideal organization of stock within a unit. This visual resource will allow you to see how space gets utilized in real-time. That way, you can make adjustments as needed.
Cutting edge software can also help you integrate your loading models with customer delivery expectations. This data can then be used to load shipments so that those with the earliest arrival dates are packed for the greatest accessibility.
It’ll save employees time unloading and reloading extraneous stock. But you can only achieve this high level of efficiency with a correspondingly high level of connectivity.
Plan and Act with Long-Term Goals in Mind
Besides diving into the nitty-gritty of current needs and connectivity, you should also think long-term. Ask yourself where you see your business in the next year, three years, five years, and ten years?
How you answer these questions will directly impact the possibilities you need to consider. Only then can you define the priorities that should frame what you look for in software.
Are you searching for a more holistic approach to logistics needs? Then, you’ll likely want software that focuses on inventory management, route and tour planning, and synergistic management of other related functions.
Other companies may be more concerned with Logistics 4.0 capabilities. If this is the case for your organization, make a software purchase that prioritizes this factor.
And all companies need to consider the impacts of blockchain technology for logistics. This technology will benefit your company in countless ways, from increased security to a lower margin for error.
If you’re looking for an innovative third-party independent fixed cost technology platform, we’ve got your answer. Find out more about the leader in streamlined logistics, InLog CLS logistics.
Choose With the Same Care You’d Use for a Supplier or Distributor
In recent years, supply chain and logistics management have seen rapid innovation, and you can expect these changes to continue. You owe it to the success of your business to stay on the front edge of these changes.
How do you do this? For starters, this approach may involve leading the charge into uncharted territory.
But with risk comes reward. You must choose technology that will place you in the best situation to take worthwhile risks.
That’s why we recommend the selection of new logistics software the way you would approach partnering with a 3PL. You want to select a technology provider that can best position you for success. You also want to select one that can continue to grow with your company and your industry.
Select your tech provider the way you would a distributor or a supplier, and you won’t be disappointed.
Yes, you’ll invest more time and energy into your decision, but it will prove well worth it. Especially when you bear in mind how vital this decision is to your company’s future.
Know a Company’s Network of Locations
Sure, technology continues to push the envelope when it comes to remote work. But you’ll still want to understand the network of locations that your software company encompasses. After all, this network will directly impact where your business can expand or distribute in the world.
Your software solution should offer a strategic approach to business distribution. And it should do so with a focus on optimal efficiency for your business distribution needs.
Again, it’s easy to assume that the same software can be used in any part of the world. But you’ll want to make sure this is indeed the case. Don’t work with a company that can’t support you in a location integral to your continued growth.
Remember that the right logistics provider should offer strategic solutions to meet your enterprise expansion desires. They should have a network of facilities and the ability to cope with your specific needs in new locations, too.
Expect Excellent Customer Service
Supply chain and logistics technology come with steep learning curves, particularly in the beginning. That’s why you must work with a company that prides itself on excellent customer service.
In all interactions and situations, they should demonstrate quick responsiveness. Their communications should be fluid, and they should offer practical solutions to urgent issues.
These qualities are all key to a great relationship with a logistics technology company. How can you vet a company to make sure they offer great service when and where customers need it most?
Check out what the company’s other customers have had to say. It’s amazing what you can learn about a company through word-of-mouth. So, do some research and check out its reviews.
If you find the customer service has been rated as generally good over the past few years? Then, you can reasonably assume it has developed a mature customer service system. You’ll be glad to have this later on when you need help with your new platform.
Make Sure the Price Is Right
Last but not least, you’ll want to take a thorough look at the logistics technology platform price. Not only should you ensure it fits within your budget, but you’ll want to guarantee that the pricing is transparent.
After all, you don’t want to have any nasty surprises later, like hidden charges. The price of company charges represents a vital metric to consider. Take the time to understand what you’ll be paying now and later to keep and maintain a technology’s functionality.
Supply Chain and Logistics Technology
Logistics technology can revitalize your company’s approach to supply chain and logistics. It can also put your company on a level playing field when it comes to competing against the largest internet-based companies in the country and worldwide.
So, don’t skimp on finding the optimal solution for your company. And don’t want to take this decision lightly, either.
Instead, consider it with the same care that you would securing a third-party logistic provider. What’s the best way to do this? By following the steps outlined above to find the right software solution for you.
How to Make the Right Choice for Your Company
Start by evaluating your current successes and needs when it comes to the logistics technology currently in use. Then, take a look at what’s available.
Next, you’ll want to bear in mind issues related to connectivity as well as considerations about the long-term objectives of your business. Finally, make sure any software solution you choose comes backed with excellent customer support and a strong network nationwide and worldwide.
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