6 tips to successfully implement transport planning software

Posted by Jan Hanselaer on 26/03/2018

Successful businesses constantly work on staying ahead of the competition. Continuous innovation is simply part of the game. For business that have a substantial transport need this means, among other things, investing in quality transport optimization software. Investing is more than just putting money on the table. It includes making the right preparations for a fluent implementation to fully reap the benefits. Enterprises who innovate continuously gather experience and know the frequently occurring challenges. In this post, we point out 6 hurdles that come with a new software implementation project and how they can be overcome.


1. Change Management

Human is a creature of habitThe importance of change management is often underestimated. Why invest in a system without the full support of the ones operating it? This lack of support will break a project.

⇒ How to deal with this?

Planning and communication is essential. Make sure the people who can make or break a project have a clear view on the timeline and are actively involved in every step. From the moment you consider starting a new software project till project closure, continuously communicate and ask for feedback. People fear uncertainty and love to be part of something new. Clarity removes the uncertainty, involvement confirms the importance.


2. Dirty Data

Garbage in = garbage out. It makes sense and even though everyone accepts this fact, carelessness is a common habit. Auto-correction is part of many applications but this only works to some extent. In transport, incorrect data (e.g. addresses or time windows) has its consequences. Unreliable plannings and frustrated drivers are one thing but the opportunity cost of dissatisfied customers is another.

⇒ How to deal with this?

Demanding 100% correct data is unrealistic but steps can be taken to improve the quality and reduce the impact of low quality data. Just to name a few:

  • Parallel running (keep working the traditional way and compare it to what the new software proposes) produces valuable insights;
  • Use time and capacity buffers when the application goes live and reduce that buffer-size gradually;
  • Track & trace can be used to validate and continuously improve addresses.


3. Planner - Application Interaction

Using a new transport planning system for the first time is not like buying a new iPhone: installing the apps and you're done. Transport planning is a complex process and every company or planner has its own preferences. Decent software enables the user to feed his experience on at least three levels:

  1. The input data 
  2. Configuration of the planning
  3. Manual adjustments and fine tuning

Without the planners being motivated to learn and master these three levels, the system will not reach its full potential.

⇒ How to deal with this?

Similar to change management, having the users involved in every step of the process mitigates this risk. Present them with the options, get trial accounts and make sure the users experience the alternatives. Take their feedback into account.


4. Third Party Cooperation

Not every company has its own IT department or makes them responsible for the entire implementation. Specialized third parties are frequently involved. When three parties cooperate, they don't necessarily have the exact same interests. Long term objectives vs IT integration stability vs product-specific purposes. 

⇒ How to deal with this?

Common objectives and planned cooperation on a regular basis enforce team spirit across parties. In addition to documented formalities, there's a sociable aspect as well. A steady cooperation arises more easily when teams get to meet from the beginning because there's no time to think about 'us' and 'them'.


5. Impact Mapping

The effects of a new system often reach further than the initial scope. In the case of route planning tools for example, modified routes: 

  • have an impact on DC's;
  • make certain orders less and others more expensive, which has an impact on sales;
  • can modify the optimal fleet;

⇒ How  to deal with this?

A simulation can be performed without the use of sophisticated technologies. Simply "walking" through the process and thoroughly documenting every step generates a use case. This use case can be checked by every actor and feedback contributes to a reliable scope.


6. The Usual Suspects

We're still talking about an IT project, so the classic pitfalls are also lurking around the corner:

  • Proper scoping and scope modifications during project execution
  • Technical integration with other IT environments
  • Proper time planning and clear realistic deadlines
  • Enough attention for testing

⇒ How to deal with this? Conclusion

The common thread in each of the previous hurdles has been planning and communication. Proper planning prevents poor performanceA classic mistake is not allocating enough time and budget to the pre-project stage. In this stage, when executed carefully, most of the risks are identified, the relevant stakeholders are interviewed and the risks are mitigated. 


It takes time to go fast.

Jan Hanselaer

Written by Jan Hanselaer