Learn how to plan and optimize routes in Excel (+free templates), and how to use spreadsheets with Google Maps, Route Optimization Software, and more.
Work Smart NOT Hard with Route Optimization Software
When it comes to route planning and optimization, you have to work smart NOT HARD. Route optimization software can get you there.
When it comes to route planning and optimization, you have to work smart NOT HARD.
Route optimization software can get you there.
In this post, you’ll get answers to these questions:
- Why you need to stop manually planning routes
- Why legacy software may not be the right choice for your business
- Why route optimization is the solution to these problems
- What makes it such an easy tool to use
- How it helps you improve the way you plan routes
So if you’re considering routing software, but you’re unsure what works, you’ll enjoy this article.
Let’s dive right in.
Problems with Manual Route Planning
Are you still manually planning delivery routes?
If you are, it may be time to STOP.
It’s not smart, and it’s not easy to do.
To learn more about what we mean, here are five problems with manual route planning:
Relying Too Much on Key Staff
Businesses that still plan routes manually usually rely on one person or a small team of experts.
This person or people have a lot of experience in planning routes.
Or advanced knowledge about the specific geographical area where the business operates.
They know which drivers to assign to the best route. Or what vehicles they should use for those routes.
But they also have a good understanding of customer preferences.
So in both cases, they represent the link between your business, teams, and customers.
The problem is:
What happens to your operations when these people become unavailable?
If they get sick or go on a holiday?
The entire process of planning delivery routes and route scheduling can come to a standstill.
It’s Not Efficient to Manually Plan Routes
The other problem is that despite the expertise of your route planners, manual route planning still isn’t the most optimal way to plan a delivery route.
Because using pens and paper, spreadsheets, or disconnected apps is still limiting:
You have to plan one route at a time.
Planning one route with multiple stops takes a lot of time and effort to do.
Route optimization using Google Maps and other open-source routing software isn’t efficient.
Typically, you can’t plan the route around other key factors like time and cost, just distance.
All of this means that it’s not very efficient to manually plan routes.
Especially when you consider that you’re wasting the potential of your workforce on a repetitive and menial task.
And that you’re far better off doing with the help of a quality software solution.
(But more on that later)
Not Enough Flexibility with Fixed Routes
Fixed routes represent a sequence of stops (drop-offs or pickups) that include visiting the same delivery locations repeatedly (on a daily or weekly basis).
But, sometimes, these regular customers don’t need the delivery.
So they skip it.
In these situations, you are left with a free delivery slot on a particular route.
And that’s a problem.
Because when it comes to ‘fixed routes’, you’ll miss a certain number of potential deliveries.
And you end up wasting miles.
Or worse still, you end up with idle vehicles and drivers at the transportation hub.
But for many businesses, fixed routes are their main delivery method.
The same drivers visit the same customer and establish a friendly relationship with them.
The problem is - you sacrifice the number of deliveries you fulfill.
While raising the number of miles per delivery.
Driving Blind with Not Enough Control
The lack of technology means both your dispatchers and drivers are driving blind.
When it comes to drivers, they usually have to use run-sheets or papers with a list of deliveries.
They may or may not plan the order of the stops, but they’ll use their feelings and knowledge to reach the destination.
Technically, they’ll drive according to a self-determined route.
And once they set off on their route, you have no control over what happens.
In most cases, you don’t have any visibility over where the drivers are or their performance.
As a result, it is very difficult to inform customers if something happens to their delivery.
And you can’t track the flaws of your delivery system or spot areas for improvement.
Not Enough Room to Scale Operations
As you may already know – the number of tasks that a route planning team can manage is limited.
At some point, you don’t have any more room to scale operations.
Some businesses use simple route planning software, but it doesn’t take into account as many operational variables.
It also means that every time you want to scale, you’ll have to hire more route planners.
And when you compare the cost of payroll for an expert to the cost of software, the math doesn’t add up.
It’s much more affordable to automate than manually plan deliveries.
But not all software is a good fit for modern last-mile delivery management.
Problems with Legacy Routing Software
Not all software is alike.
And not every solution is right for modern last-mile delivery.
Case in point: legacy routing software solutions.
These systems may have been the cutting edge of automation in the past.
But now, they can cause more problems to your business than help it grow.
So what’s the problem with them?
Let’s take a look.
It’s On-Premise Routing Software
If you buy an on-premise system, you buy a permanent license to software at a one-time cost.
It’s then installed on your companys’ private systems and servers.
But that doesn’t mean that you have everything you need.
For your company to benefit from the on-premise software, you need to invest in:
- Software security
- System integration
- Tech support
- And more
Worst of all, they are typically closed systems.
So you won’t be able to integrate it with other apps and software that you use.
As you can assume, the high price that goes with all of that means it’s not appealing or suitable to small and medium-sized businesses.
Very Expensive to Purchase and Use
On-premise software solutions are usually tremendous capital investments.
And they often have a high upfront cost.
And, as we’ve mentioned, the company also has to acquire a lot of separate infrastructures to support the system.
That means you have to invest in:
- In-house servers
- Computing hardware
- Security and firewall systems
- IT staff
(Among other things)
Usually, only large companies and enterprises can afford this.
And if you’re an SMB, then it typically means you’ll be stuck manually planning routes.
Difficult to Update and Maintain
When it comes to updates and maintenance, the situation is the same.
When it’s time to update the software, you’ll realize it’s more difficult than you think.
To upgrade the software, you need to buy the patches, add-ons, and plug-ins from the provider.
Again, more costs.
On top of that, the process requires someone to physically install them onto your network.
All of that takes a lot of time before you can start using it again.
So any significant upgrade to the system may hinder your delivery and route planning.
Lacks Scalability of Modern Solutions
When you want to grow your delivery, you need to expand your capabilities.
There’s a good chance that legacy applications can’t support that.
Due to their closed system, you’ll probably have to purchase additional software or licenses.
Typically, you’ll need to buy the additional tools from the same software developer.
If their offer lacks the necessary features, then you can get stuck using an automation tool that can’t fully automate your delivery operations.
Even if the developer has a solution on offer, you’ll still have to integrate it manually.
And that takes time.
Worse still, it may require you to stop using the software until you update the system.
And that’s a high price to pay to continue using already outdated routing software.
As we know, business models change constantly.
They are moving towards mobility and accessibility.
If you want to avoid getting run over by competitors, you need to change to a more modern and efficient solution…
The Solution: SaaS Route Optimization Software
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the solution.
Because with SaaS route optimization software you get:
A Fully Automated Solution
Instead of going through all the trouble that comes with a legacy routing solution, you can go for a fully automated solution.
With SaaS Route Optimization Software, you aren’t buying a physical license - you are paying for the right to use it.
- You choose a delivery management software,
- Then you subscribe to a provider like eLogii
- The provider creates an account for you
- You log in to your account and start using the software
It’s that simple.
Best of all, you can access the software from anywhere and on any device.
SaaS Solutions Are More Affordable
If you compare the price of a SaaS solution to the price for an on-premise solution, you’ll see that SaaS is more affordable.
- There are no additional or unforeseen costs with SaaS solutions
- You pay the same fee each month, for the duration of your contract
- You can customize the subscription fee, and pay as you scale
- Usually, it has a free trial period and a demo
- When your delivery operations grow you simply add new features to the toolkit
- You can start using it immediately after subscribing to it
It Operates Using Cloud Computing
SaaS delivery software relies on cloud computing.
So with a SaaS solution, you adopt a cloud-first approach to delivery logistics.
You don’t need to invest in additional tech stacks or infrastructure to use it.
You can use the software via any device. (Including the ones you already have)
So cloud technology is what makes this type of software easy to integrate with the hardware and software infrastructure that you use.
But it’s also what makes delivery management platforms the most affordable option on the market.
The cloud also makes it simpler to maintain and scale the technology you use.
Because you subscribe to a service, the provider is responsible for all upgrades to the system.
So instead of manually installing updates, patches, and plug-ins, it’s all done automatically.
You get a notification from the provider about it, with complete support on how to use the latest version of the software.
Higher Visibility and Control
SaaS delivery route optimization software allows you to keep track of your drivers and their progress in real-time.
It uses geolocation, geotargeting, and GPS to track orders as they move across the last mile.
So, you get the exact location of each vehicle on the map, at every moment.
That means if something unexpected happens, you can act immediately.
And keep your customer informed and satisfied.
But it also means dispatchers can add new tasks to driver schedules and use the software to adjust the route.
Best of all, it’s all automatically updated to the delivery driver app.
So drivers won’t have to receive a call from dispatch about the changes.
They’ll just view it over the screen on their phones.
Helps You Plan Better Routes
Route optimization software helps you plan the best route for multiple stops for all of your deliveries.
Route planner for multiple stops calculates the optimal time of a route, fuel, vehicle capacity, and other parameters.
It also takes into account a lot of other factors (types of roads, traffic patterns, pickup locations, driver schedules, etc.).
As a result, you get the fastest route to multiple locations, which lets your business scale and grow.
Why Is Route Optimization Software So Easy to Use?
In this part of the article, we want to show you why life is easier with routing software.
But not only simpler, but it’s also smarter as well.
To prove it, here are five reasons you should consider:
#1 It’s Simple to Learn and Use
With route optimization software it’s quite simple to plan a route with multiple stops.
Tools that use to map routes with multiple stops are particularly user-friendly.
It uses advanced UI which makes the software familiar to most users.
That’s why anyone on your team will be able to use it to plan deliveries.
Plus, its sleek platform reduces the learning curve.
In a few hours, your team or an employee will be trained and ready to plan deliveries.
Then, you will be able to optimize all your delivery routes with a push of a button.
#2 It’s Easy to Integrate and Maintain
Unlike legacy solutions, SaaS routing software relies on cloud technology.
That’s what keeps integration speed high and the price low.
Most Saas solutions use APIs so they can integrate it with your system.
No need to worry, because most companies provide developer documentation and tech support, so the process is painless.
For example, eLogii can easily integrate with all systems or applications virtually.
That way, you can connect and manage all the relevant delivery information easily.
#3 It’s a Dynamic Routing Solution
Depending on how big your company is, it can also be very difficult to organize delivery.
Managing delivery operations isn’t simply fulfilling orders.
Your team also has to take into account many different factors.
If you use Saas solutions that are based on cloud technology.
This gives you the ability to make changes ahead of schedule.
That means you stay organized at all times.
But SaaS delivery software also allows you to dispatch orders in real-time.
So your delivery agents can complete multiple stops on one route.
While dipatchers add new stops and adjust the routes without the drivers noticing.
That means you can take into account a variety of factors, from speed to order priority, and offer multiple delivery options to your customers.
#4 It’s Built to Scale
Growing your company can mean getting more customers, spreading to new markets, or hiring more people.
Whichever of these is your goal, route planning software stimulates efficiency by automating your operations.
That’s because it’s built to scale.
That gives you more space to focus on the quality of your delivery, generate more income, expand reach, and improve customer satisfaction.
Plus - as you scale, you won’t have to invest in a new solution.
You can just expand the package to fit the growth of your operations.
#5 It Requires Less Time, Money, and Energy
If you aren’t using route optimization software, your route planning team is wasting time, effort, and skills on boring and repetitive tasks.
Using route optimization software has better use of your employees’ potential which they can channel to more meaningful tasks.
It saves your money because you can track key metrics in delivery logistics to:
#1 Find operational waste accurately
#2 Make decisions based on data
#3 Develop cost-effective solutions
#4 Adjust how you spend resources
#5 Continuously improve operations
And most importantly, it automates how you plan, route, and dispatch your delivery fleet.
So it’s easier and smarter to do all of it.
If you want to improve the quality of how you plan and manage your delivery, we can help.