5 Tips that Help You Pick a Pure Bred Routing Solution

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Everyone loves an underdog, and for supply chain technologies, that would be transportation routing software. 

Routing software is the supply chain's unlikely hero in a pack of shinier technologies vying for top dog. What grabs your attention: an efficient routing plan for delivery trucks or robot truck drivers with laser beams shooting out of their eyes?

Transportation may not be exciting, but it is the core of a supply chain, and the routing process controls it. Routing has a unique position in the supply chain ecosystem, and no other function rivals its potential to optimize outcomes. The routing process owns those robots. Woof woof! 

If transportation routing is genuinely the underdog, why isn’t everyone barking about it? Truth and buzz are two different things. Besides, it’s best to trust yourself, considering the majority are not doing well with technology decisions:  

McKinsey reports that 70% of digital transformation projects are failures, with nearly 20% posing an existential threat to business viability.

If you want to avoid chasing your tail when choosing a routing solution, read on to learn five tips for picking a purebred solution that maximizes supply chain optimization.

 

1. Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks

A previous post suggested transportation optimization is the best response to supply chain volatility. The chances of this happening are slim for most companies because they cannot see the need in the first place. You can avoid this problem by understanding what's behind it.

Cognitive bias can blind us when we’re presented with new information that challenges preconceived ideas. Transportation routing functions traditionally resided in TMS and fleet management apps, and these solutions focused on shipping operations. This can limit our perspective, keeping us from seeing connections between routing and the supply chain.  

Newer supply chain software and models are blurring boundaries that once delineated business processes. When our thinking remains stuck in the past, we assess routing through a lens of familiarity and can miss opportunities. A new lens is required to see the supply chain effects of decisions made in the shipping department.   

Making the most of routing requires learning new tricks to overcome preconceived ideas, like thinking holistically about the entire supply chain process. 

2. Sniff Out New Solutions

A good analyst is like a trained sniffer dog at the airport, leading a company to solutions it would’ve otherwise missed. Make sure the analyst is the right breed, with the requisite expertise in transportation optimization. 

A technology provider offering a routing solution can also point to improvements with one caveat: they have a conflict of interest that will usually interfere with complete objectivity.  You can learn a lot from an experienced vendor so ask for their analysis.

3. Breed Continuous Improvement

Optimization is about reaching ever-higher levels of potential, and it results from continuous process improvements. Without a continuous improvement mindset, a delivery operation will have a more efficient process lagging behind competitors who run ahead with the bone.  

4. Choose the Right Pedigree

Dogs are bred to accentuate certain qualities, and the same can be said about creating transportation routing software. Software is designed around data and process models best suited for a specific application. This significantly affects the degree of optimization, so it’s crucial to choose a routing solution of the right pedigree. 

You can vet this pedigree by checking the requirements outlined in this post. Ask solution providers to explain and demonstrate how their process will work with S&OP planning, vehicle routing, and scheduling.  Also, look for these qualities in routing software:

  • Integration of production scheduling,  S&OP, and transportation planning and execution.   

  • A flexible API that supports updating optimization throughout the business process.

  • A data model that reflects the real world - linking every physical element, partner, and event in the supply chain to enterprise financials. 

  • Multi-carrier, multi-modal support for inbound and outbound freight and parcels, supporting a broader sample of shipments. 

5. Avoid Mutts

If you’re a dog-lover like me, you probably enjoy mixed-breed mutts as much as purebreds.  However, with a purebred, you know what characteristics to expect from a particular breed.  Mutts are like today’s special soup - it’s a hit-and-miss experience.     

Sorry mutts, software pedigree matters. A solution not explicitly designed for routing optimization addresses it as a secondary feature, like an afterthought to its primary purpose. It will usually reach its limits sooner, unable to realize the gains of a purebred design.  

The primary purpose of many TMS and fleet management apps is automating workflow and managing carrier transactions in daily operations. Shipping operations are optimized; it does not optimize the enterprise for transportation. The impact is relatively small compared to a purebred routing solution.     

While there’s nothing like an EKC or AKC for vetting software pedigree, you can require a Proof of Concept from potential vendors to assess software characteristics.

Conclusion

Transportation routing is the underdog process waiting to be discovered, and knowing what to look for in a routing solution can lead a supply chain to howling success.

flexis AG provides routing optimization solutions that integrate S&OP, APS, and transportation planning, satisfying the requirements discussed in this post.    

 

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