Route Planning Software is not something that every business needs - but when you do need it, it's invaluable. Our latest technology matchmaking project has been to help a delivery business find and select new route-planning software.
What is Route Planning Software?
Route Planning Software is an application that enables a business to plan routes for their fleet of vehicles. The use cases are many and varied but tend to revolve around the planning and routing of vehicles for companies with logistics requirements. Route-planning software is a critical application for companies in sectors like mail and parcel delivery, retail logistics, public service fleets, and similar requirements.
Who Are The Top Route Planning Software Vendors?
Our recent selection process looked at eight different vendors in the transportation arena. Those were as follows:
Trimble Transportation - a part of the wider US-based Trimble software company.
Descartes - the Canadian-based logistics and transportation software vendor.
CACI - the broad-ranging US software vendor.
Ortec - the Dutch provider of mathematical optimization technology.
Glow - the recently established SaaS vendor based in Norway and the Nordics.
DispatchTrack - the fast-moving and growing route-planning vendor.
Verizon Connect - fleet management software.
Omnitracs - Fleet Management solution from Solera.
Each vendor took part in our Matchmaker Service, where we provide a 'challenge statement' articulating the customer requirement, then ask the vendors to come along and present how they can help. It's a great way to quickly find out what's available and whether it fits the requirements that you might have.
Elements to Consider When Choosing Route Planning Software.
The transportation management software area, like most sectors, is undergoing a significant change, as new SaaS-based technologies enter the market, and some of the more established businesses look to transform their user interface and modernize the technology stack. Here are some of the areas to watch out for when looking to find and select a new route-planning solution:
The user-experience tends to vary dramatically - particularly when comparing the newer market entrants with the older and generally more established technologies.
Breadth of Capability
Watch out for the breadth of capabilities across the different vendors. Some of the more modern technology providers have great UIs, but perhaps are missing some of the more comprehensive needs of the market.
Route-planning software needs to cater to the needs of the locality. For example, are there specific routes or laws relating to areas that the planning software will need to take into consideration? Will the software also cater to driver regulations and directives? This is often difficult for multi-national vendors to invest in or to have detailed experience of.
Does the vendor have references in the sector that we are looking to buy and implement the software in? Do they have references in our market or country? The route planning market can be relatively small in each country or region - ensuring that the technology can achieve your objectives can be demonstrated by strong customer references.
First Mile, Last Mile, and Inbetween
Can the software meet all of your requirements? Might it be able to cater for the first mile and last mile? Could it replace other systems and services that you have installed? Ask the vendor for all the areas that they cover.
How to Run a Selection Process for Route Planning Software.
As the leading Technology Matchmaker, we have some firm views on selection processes. If you want to know more about how to run the very best processes, take a look at our website for more details.
The first step should be some level of market awareness process where you just need to make some calls and get conversations going with the vendor community. Our Matchmaker Service does all this for you, so you just need to sit back and listen to the options.
If you already know what's out in the market, the next step is to go from a longlist of options, to a shortlist. This can be called an RFI (request for information). It's a great way to narrow down the options. You can find an RFI template here or we can help you run a Rapid RFI.
Finally - get your shortlist down to 4 vendors - maybe one more or one less. Then run an RFP - or Request For Proposal. This is where you can compare and contrast the vendors against one another and make an informed choice. At Viewpoint Analysis, we hate the old-fashioned RFP processes and approaches as they take FAR TOO LONG. If you want a better approach, download our Rapid RFP template or take a look at how we run Rapid RFPs (which is what we are doing next for this particular route planning need.)
Conclusion - Finding the Best Route Planning Software
The route planning market is made up of the vendors we listed above, and more. The key is to keep the initial market sweep relatively tight but to see how the different vendors can help you in your specific project. Once you have a good understanding of the options, get moving with a Rapid RFI or jump straight to a Rapid RFP-type process. The key thing is to get talking to the vendors and look at the options. There are some great vendors - of different shapes and sizes. Go find one that fits you and your business.