Ever seen one of those circus routines where someone spins a dozen plates on poles? Managing drivers and large trucking fleets is pretty much the same thing — except harder. With countless details to manage on a daily basis, you need a system to keep track of it all. Dispatch software does just that, making it a vital part of TMS software (Transportation Management System).
Without an efficient system in place, you spend too much time manually tracking vehicles, planning routes and organizing driver’s schedules.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to help drive automation (pun intended). They allow you to focus on the strategic aspects of dispatch management and develop new, more efficient ways to provide service.
With the right dispatch software, your company can streamline the dispatch management process and boost productivity for your entire fleet.
To help you get there, here’s what we’ll cover:
- Dispatch software definition
- Main benefits of dispatch software
- Dispatch software’s top features
- How to choose the right system
- Top 5 dispatching software solutions
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What Is Dispatch Software?
Dispatch software is designed to help automate routing and scheduling processes, providing a simpler way to coordinate routes and deliveries efficiently. Handling them manually takes up a lot of time and often results in costly errors.
When you combine supply chain management software with transportation and logistics solutions, your organization can even improve the processes of sourcing raw components. This cuts the time it takes to make products and deliver them to customers.
A dispatch management system allows you to oversee transportation types ranging from shipping and buses to moving companies, airlines and more.
Now let’s explore some of the main benefits of dispatch software.
Key Benefits of Dispatching Software
Dispatch management software gives you complete control of every transportation process. Track locations and statuses with GPS and interactive maps, giving you complete control over when and where to dispatch your drivers.
The result? Optimized routes for your teams, along with a more reliable method for dispatching your staff and providing consistent quality service.
Quick Response Capabilities
Thousands of things can go wrong when providing services on the road. Ensuring everything always runs smoothly is like not slipping if you try to run across an ice rink in loafers — it’s impossible.
If (or let’s be real, when) something does go wrong, dispatching software can help reduce the damage of the error to a minimum.
Real-time data about the location and status of each driver allows you to immediately spot the problem. You can then make the necessary adjustments to ensure the quality of service doesn’t suffer.
As companies grow bigger, their dispatch management processes become more complicated. This can result in errors if there isn’t a reliable system in place to prevent them.
Today’s technician dispatch software solutions offer flexibility and can scale alongside your company’s growth. The leading systems comfortably manage scheduling and dispatching, enabling your drivers to reach each client on time.
The software also adapts to meet unique needs your business might have. That’s helpful considering that the challenges faced by a company that ships domestically, for example, won’t be the same as those for an international company.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
A recent study shows that according to retailers, 49 percent are concerned about customer expectations of delivery times, while 44 percent are concerned about expectations in regards to free and/or low-cost shipping. Quick and accurate deliveries are also necessary as 25 percent of customers abandon shopping if same day delivery is inaccurate or unavailable.
Those are only two examples of how vital customer service is. Dispatch software gives you the capability to ensure you’re not falling prey to lost revenue due to poor delivery metrics. With access to the right information, your dispatchers and drivers can set time saving routes, stay on top of specific customer delivery requests. And with automatic billing, your employees won’t waste customers’ time with paperwork.
All that adds up to timely, dependable service. And that will keep customers coming back every time they need a delivery.
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Essential Features of Service Dispatch Software
GPS Tracking & Mapping
You need to monitor the location and status of your drivers. So it’s no surprise that GPS tracking and mapping sits at the top in the field dispatch software feature rankings.
GPS tracking uses traffic predictions and advanced routing to ensure that your freight arrives on time. Real-time access to the current traffic conditions makes it much easier to adapt and give your drivers the best routes. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of full visibility. See the locations of every driver in the field and get real-time updates on routes they take and how fast they are going.
Some solutions also come with capabilities such as automatic task allocation and custom route building. Such comprehensive control over your fleet creates a much more effective approach to responding to shipping requests.
Automating tasks that require manual labor allows your organization to run effectively. Dispatching software lets you handle growth while tracking your scheduled jobs and available drivers.
These systems provide partially or even fully-automated scheduling, assigning drivers to planned loads. Visual displays such as Gantt charts, maps and lists aid capacity planning. And drag-and-drop features make is easy to manage job assignments.
With the ability to identify the right driver for each job, you’ll significantly increase delivery efficiency and customer satisfaction. Dispatchers have all the necessary tools available to them to make informed decisions. Less time spent scheduling allows for more resources spent on other strategic tasks.
Accessibility and convenient communication is essential for both dispatchers and drivers. Mobile apps give your dispatchers and drivers on-the-go access to information, such as pre-assignment load details. Drivers and dispatchers are able to communicate quickly making for easy check-ins.
With a reliable two-way communications channel established, your office staff can inform drivers of any issues. In addition, you can share information about travel routes, shipment alerts and more.
A mobile app places drivers in complete control of their trips, providing relevant route information while automatically collecting and storing data about their progress. This reduces the time it would take to fill out the necessary paperwork. And it makes data instantly visible to managers, which cuts down on the chance for errors.
When operating a larger trucking fleet, it’s difficult to track all shipments in real time. Not anymore, thanks to automated notifications.
Think back to the plate spinner. If he were blindfolded, he wouldn’t have any way of knowing which plates were about to crash down. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen. Similarly, if you don’t get updates throughout the day, you won’t be able to monitor the status of your drivers.
Some dispatch software vendors provide tools that automatically notify dispatchers about trips that may miss their scheduled delivery. Some can even spot scheduling issues days in advance. With this information, you can quickly solve the issue with a few clicks instead of scrambling to fix it as the problem occurs.
And since the software automatically tracks the performance of each driver, it enables insights into areas where you need to improve performance.
Billing is a headache regardless of your field. Managing a fleet of trucks on top of keeping track of billing is one too many plates to spin. Dispatch software comes with functionality to keep this plate spinning while you focus on more important tasks.
Billing support provides assistance with a variety of time-consuming processes. Calculate transportation costs for both business and customer-facing portions of product delivery. Quickly and accurately bill customers for asset usage, cost accruals and revenue recognition.
Dispatch software tools streamline these tasks and take an axe to all that extra time — time your dispatchers and drivers could spend getting materials to the next job.
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Business intelligence — it’s quite the buzz phrase. And for good reason. BI applications are like the business version of a Fitbit. They track all the vitals of your business so you have a clear idea of what’s going on at any given time.
The beauty of BI tools is how they serve up information. Visualizations, often in the form of customizable dashboards, make it easy to track your performance for key transportation metrics like on-time deliveries, customer satisfaction, order accuracy, transportation costs and more.
BI features also include reporting as a central component. They let you drill down into analytics and determine, for example, what caused a delivery to run late. You can create custom reports and track information like delivery status reports, cargo reports and driver reports, all in real time. This 360-degree visibility enables better, faster decision-making.
How to Choose Dispatch Software
While many of the leading transportation dispatch software solutions come with a long list of features, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your individual needs.
So, how do you find the best fit for your company?
To maximize your return on investment, get answers to these questions before narrowing down your list:
What Features Are Most Important for Your Company?
Today’s leading dispatch management software solutions offer a wide range of features. But that doesn’t mean each feature is universal — or that a certain feature will meet a specific business need.
That’s why it’s important to figure out which features provide the most value to your company. This process helps you instantly narrow down the list of vendors by eliminating those without essential functionality.
Your must-have list might include mobile app availability, remote monitoring and Google Maps integration.
Get our TMS Software Requirements Template
Does It Offer Comprehensive Training?
In order to reap the most benefits from a software solution, you need a thorough training program that helps your staff use the software to its fullest extent.
Look for providers who offer training to ensure their users get the most out of the software. They should help you learn the different aspects of operating the software, as well as include extensive support for any features that become available later on.
Want to see if the system is easy to integrate and fits your requirements? Trying the demo version is a great way to find out.
How Does Pricing Compare with Functionality?
Price is often a central deciding factor for smaller fleets that are new to dispatch software. But those with more experience or with larger operations often look beyond budget to see the real value of a software solution.
Take those differences into consideration. You don’t want to blow a Texas-sized hole in your budget. But you also need to ensure you get the functionality your company requires.
Even though a cheaper solution comes with lower initial expenses, it won’t be worth much if the software doesn’t meet your needs and scale as your company grows. Switching systems and starting from scratch can be much more expensive in the long run.
Your best bet is to find the balance between keeping your financial department happy and getting the functionality you need. Use your list of requirements as a guideline for which solutions to consider. Don’t chase after big promises and neat capabilities that ultimately won’t serve you right now.
The right system will streamline your operations, increase productivity and help reduce costs. So the investment should more than pay for itself, even if it comes with a big sticker price to start.
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5 Best Dispatch Software Solutions
Now it’s time to get specific. Our goal is to make this whole process easier for you. To aid your search, our analyst team gathered a list of the top five dispatch management software solutions:
Pro-Transport is an all-in-one fleet management solution suitable for fleets of all sizes. The bundled offering includes accounting, dispatch, and safety and maintenance capabilities.
The dispatch module has an interactive dashboard and two-way messaging. It also provides information about fleet availability using GPS data, ETA alerts, geo-fencing and LTL trip planning. You can customize the color-coded layouts and automatically calculate mileage.
The safety and maintenance module helps manage and monitor fleet conditions. With it, you can create schedules, store records, and set notifications for certifications and maintenance appointments.
Here are some main benefits:
Billing and invoicing: Track and search transactions, make IFTA calculations, monitor accounts receivable and accounts payable, and analyze billing and profit-loss. It offers overviews of general productivity, cost analysis and revenue. You can also upload fuel receipts and load bills directly into the system.
Integration: Compile data from various touchpoints to manage trucking operations from one location.
Freight brokerage: Interact with carriers, estimate demands and manage day-to-day transactions from the user-friendly interface.
Target functionality: The design caters to trucking fleets where every aspect integrates into a single system. Functions include safety, dispatch, accounting, reporting, driver communications and real-time GPS tracking.
Driver management: Maintain compliance of drivers and equipment via alerts. You can track the route followed, number of stops, detours, equipment failure and more.
Easily track trucks, drivers, and their current locations.