Software products can be divided into out-of-the-box software (or off-the-shelf-products) and multiple module systems. The out-of-the box solutions work by default right after they are installed. Typical out-of-the-box examples include Microsoft Office, email clients like Outlook, etc.
Multiple module systems, like ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) have a definite set of already built-in modules. However, further customization to apply the best options for an individual business is always required.
What makes custom solutions so special for logistics management?
Each product has its own benefits and disadvantages. However, in spite of all attempts to globally standardize the software, there is still growing demand for custom programming.
Lately, more and more transportation companies request custom-made systems. Why do they prefer custom custom programming over existing solutions?
If you google transportation management systems, you will find a long list of solutions with standardized functions ready for purchase, implementation and maintenance. It is quite simple: you just buy, setup and use. Most people think this way. However, when buying a powerful, complex system enriched with various functionality, it is often “buyer beware” because powerful systems require the purchaser to step up to the plate and learn it – often not an easy task. You might become dependent on it.
As a provider of programming services, we often encounter myths held to be true by our customers. Some customers see standard solutions as a “big red button” which they can push and magic will make the whole system improve their business. Others think it is enough to hire guru software engineers who will set up the purchased system, so that it will do miracles: all processes will immediately turn transparent and manageable while employees will increase productivity by doing their tasks easily, elaborately and on time.
This is unlikely to happen. Sad to admit it, but miracles do not happen.
Either way, customers get a false impression that a complex, powerful system will solve all their issues. Certainly, a turnkey system for a transportation company usually includes modules that build cost-effective logistical chains, implement routing plans, distribute and stow freights, etc. But will the included functionality satisfy your company’s specific needs? Are you sure, the purchased solution will work for your company? Or just the opposite?
This is the million-dollar question, especially for transportation companies.
We will answer this question using a couple of examples. Assuming a transportation company uses a standardized system, let’s estimate transportation charges. Of course, an accurate quote cannot be calculated without details of a particular route; however, you’ll get a general picture.
To get a cost estimate, we need to know:
- Driver’s salary
- Gas costs
- Vehicle maintenance expenses (for owners) and rental costs (for a rented vehicle), etc.
These components might vary; for example, the driver’s salary can be monthly or daily fixed, paid by miles/kilometers traveled, or based on the carriage cost, and fuel can be paid by the company or by the driver via a fuel card or in cash, etc.
Here comes an essential disadvantage of all turnkey packages: adding specific details to the system, the manager will have to go through great number of options, mark numerous checks and settings. Seeking to offer the greatest functionality, the number of the fields to fill out within standardized systems is usually beyond the understanding of a non-technical person, so they prefer to revert to something clear and simple just because they cannot accomplish the system guidebook or manual and understand how the figures have been calculated in the system.
Another example. The job of cargo and freight agents is to speed up the process of a shipment by preparing all of the required documentation. The more requests they process, the greater the profit. However, with a complicated functionality, they spend more time working with the same scope. Certainly, they will not be happy and return to the old workflow or will start begging for a new system that will do only the basic things they really need. Neither more, nor less.
Consequently, company owners understand they have two options: either get back to the previous workflow and not use a new system, or change their business processes. It shouldn’t have to be like this. Aren’t systems meant to improve workflow activities within a company and not set the rules for business processes?
This issue is particularly daunting for transportation companies because transportation systems operate in real time. Besides, processes within each single company are unique, regardless of the fact that all transportation companies aim to offer the same or similar options. They perform their operations in different ways: this is why they demand custom solutions.
If you need a custom solution, we are ready to help you.
However, it is important to note there is no specific answer what will work the best for your transportation company. The exact thing is yet, when you are looking for a solution for your business, do not save time on a research, better hire an analyst, deeply investigate all cons and pros and only then make a thoughtful and well-weighted decision. Remember, any system should help your business to work, not vice versa!