Your Guide to Software Selection

Dispatch Software: Key Features, Benefits and Recommendations

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

Compare Top TMS Software Leaders

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

Transportation Management

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.

Flexibility

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.

Compare Top TMS Software Leaders

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.

Automated Scheduling

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.

Mobile Access

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.

Automated Notifications

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 Support

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 Tools

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.

Compare Top TMS Software Leaders

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

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.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

GPS Insight

The GPS Insight tracking solution delivers intelligent insights for vehicle tracking, trailer tracking and fleet fuel cards. Companies from small to large can access the information of their fleet using one interface.

GPS Insight provides automated reports on demand and helps retrieve detailed history of any vehicle in the fleet to determine occupancy trends. The company has tracked 140,000 vehicles/assets during its 13 years of business.

It offers tailored services depending on the needs and user requirements:

  • Standard, for fleet sizes from 1 – 26
  • Pro, for fleet sizes from 27 – 500
  • Enterprise, for fleet sizes over 500

So, what benefits can you expect?

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Cost optimization: Minimize fuel waste, guide vehicle speed, decrease the idle time of vehicles and properly allocate resources. The solution also helps internal users get workforce intelligence on their device of choice.

Reporting: Customizable reporting lets you monitor fleet operations. Analyze activity, idling, stop times, speeding, landmark visits and other aspects of fleet efficiency.

Fleet utilization: Gain insights into how much wear and tear your fleet has — aka how often your trucks hit the road and what condition they’re in. That will help extend vehicle and asset lifecycle, and data provides inputs so you can efficiently manage tasks and trips.

Vehicle and driver safety: Monitor and coach driver behavior, utilize a drive panic button and keep vehicles safe for operation.

Real-time fleet visibility: Access your fleet’s information in real time. Based in the cloud, the solution makes it easy to see data on a mobile device or desktop connected to the internet.

Trend investigation & KPI measurement: Using GPS tracking, you can easily identify and track the key performance indicators that matter most to your business.

GPS Insight optimized route functionality helps generate the best routes for drivers.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Samsara

Samsara is a cloud-based, award-winning solution providing software and hardware designed for small and midsize fleets. The all-in-one platform enables fleet management, driver safety and compliance services. The routing and dispatch software specifically serves trucking, buses and delivery vehicles.

Its route analytics provide real-time delivery visibility and route tracking, automatic ETA alerts and instant route updates. It also compares planned vs actual route performance by using real-time GPS tracking, advanced analytics and intuitive reports.

You can also keep tabs on the physical location of fleets and monitor drivers’ behavior to stay complaint with ELD and FMCSA regulations.

Here are the chief benefits:

GPS tracking: GPS visualization and reporting helps organize and promote fleet productivity. Save money on fuel costs with route analytics and real-time traffic data. Avoid potential breakdowns by automating routine inspections, viewing engine utilization reports, and vehicle diagnostics.

Fleet maintenance: Use vehicle data for onboard diagnostics to proactively spot issues such as failing batteries and engine faults. The system quickly identifies vehicles in need of service to protect vehicle health. The diagnostics tool provides maintenance schedules based on use, paperless DVIRs and more. And with Fleet Viewer links, your customers can track routes or trucks.

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Trailer tracking: Get better visibility into operations by using sensor level data at every point. This lets you maximize vehicle usage by pinpointing trailers that aren’t getting used enough. You can also use the data to create real-time alerts. Detect and monitor unauthorized use, doors opening and cargo being unloaded for greater overall security.

Routing and messaging: Keep tabs on route progress and late or missed stops. You can use historical data to update the estimated time for arrival as well as improve routes. And with the two-way messaging system, it’s easy to let drivers know to reroute vehicles based on schedule adjustments.

AI-driven safety: Dash cams embedded with artificial intelligence in addition to machine learning technology enhance driver safety and reduce accident-related costs. The solution reports driving violations that are hard to detect, sends in-cab alerts and provides accurate speed limit data. Enjoy the assurance of fleet safety and compliance, along with the convenience of connected operations.

Integration: API endpoints enable an information exchange with Samsara Cloud. This lets you build powerful applications and custom solutions using incoming sensor data. The endpoints allow you to track and analyze everything from sensors to your entire fleet. You can access the open REST API via an HTTP client such as Wget or cURL, or HTTP libraries of modern programming languages including Python, Ruby and Java.

Put clients at ease with quick estimations of delivery arrivals.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

ITS Dispatch

If you’re a small or mid-sized carrier, freight broker or owner-operate, Truckstop’s ITS Dispatch solution is a great choice. With more than 20 years of experience, they currently have over 400 partners spread across seven locations.

The cloud-based solution is suitable for companies with a max fleet size of 25 trucks and 20 or less concurrent users. The suite includes fleet management applications like dispatch and scheduling, GPS tracking, freight brokerage, IFTA processing and more. It’ll help you streamline time-consuming processes, reduce errors and gain maximum profitability.

Carriers can use ITS Dispatch to automate the reporting process through the IFTA tool, as well as understand and manage driver payroll rights. Optimize your operations with things like load tracking, load payment information and a market rate analyzer. Brokers can customize load confirmations and handle the payables while owners manage load and communicate progress to clients.

Some of the main benefits include:

Screening and monitoring: ITS Dispatch acts as a marketplace for getting qualified long-term trucking partners. Its Credit Stop solution helps you find the best brokers and shippers, and it operates on a day-to-day payment basis. Meanwhile, the CACCI solution integrates Carrier Performance Reportings into the ITS Dispatch database for a vigorous solution. You’ll be able to find the right freight partners based on your business needs.

Load management: Boards help you find trusted carriers, brokers and shippers. Get information on volumes along with the variety of lanes and freight.

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IFTA reporting: Using data input from on-road devices, it’s no trouble to produce a variety of IFTA forms and analyze info including truck, fuel and road use reports. Track information with the dispatch entry screen or fuel entry screen, get automated miles calculation by ProMiles, and easily update and manage IFTA records.

One-click invoicing: Easily send invoices no matter the load status — delivered, completed, invoiced, yet to invoice or paid. Each load has an icon where you can enter comments or export an invoice. It also checks multiple loads and exports the invoices as a PDF file that contains all the requested load invoices.

Fuel tracking: The Fuel Desk feature provides fuel optimization, rate negotiation and IFTA tax calculation. It helps users find the best routes and top fuel stops, see average posted and paid rates and more.

Carrier management: The carrier recruitment and management tool lets you qualify, manage and monitor carriers based on your business requirements. With it, you can streamline tracking, customize profiles and get alerts if a carrier’s qualification criteria changes.

Dispatch software dashboards provide a wealth of useful data.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Verizon Connect Reveal

Verizon Connect Reveal (formerly Fleetmatics REVEAL) is a cloud-based fleet management solution. It supports fleet sizes up to 999 vehicles, making it a solid option for small and mid-sized companies. With it, you get insights into vehicle location, fuel usage, speed, mileage and driver behavior.

Its GPS fleet tracking solution enables cost reduction and improved fleet productivity. Track, monitor and manage vehicles and drivers, as well as their routes. You also have the ability to see a virtual picture of the field from departure to delivery. And real-time visibility features lets your customers know the location of a vehicle.

Delivered as a SaaS solution, the system is easy to access. All you need is an internet connection or mobile app. And with the Verizon Connect Work solution, you’ll get additional capabilities ranging from scheduling and dispatch to invoicing, all in a single place.

Now let’s take a look at some specific benefits:

Compare Top TMS Software Leaders

Cost optimization: Use vehicle performance data to reduce operating costs. The solution takes the vehicle information in the metrics dashboard and gives you a concise picture of your costs so you can identify how to decrease expenses.

Vehicle scheduling: Real-time visibility makes it easy to plan your schedules. And the Live Map feature shows vehicles occupancy, creating greater efficiency for your routing and scheduling.

Real-time intelligence: Get alerts on driver activity like idling, harsh driving, late start and more thanks to the end-to-end connected intelligence platform. You can then leverage that data to make better decisions.

Vehicle compliance: The system’s automated logs and alerts work together to help you minimize violations. The alert system sends notifications when drivers approach their hour limits, enabling your company to stay compliant with electronic log requirements for hours of service (HOS).

Data accessibility: You won’t have to worry about the solution living in a silo apart from your current software. The SaaS delivery model integrates seamlessly with your systems. Plus, the user-friendly mobile app gives you complete access to your data when you need it.

Dispatch software allows easy access to helpful statistics such as fuel usage.

Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Conclusion

Managing a transportation fleet has become increasingly complex. Without the right software, your operations will end up like the plate spinner who’s poles all fall over. Dispatcher software keeps that from happening with features like GPS tracking, automation and BI applications.

For a more in-depth view of field service vendors, grab a copy of our free, interactive comparison report. You’ll get access to comparison ratings, reviews, pricing and more.

What are some of the main challenges you’re facing in your search for dispatch software? Tell us in the comments!

Hunter LoweDispatch Software: Key Features, Benefits and Recommendations

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