When considering what software to select, many freight forwarders' common approach is to have meetings at various levels of the company and ask what do you want the software to do. After a few sessions where everyone gets to give their input, a list will materialize. With things like; air cargo tracking, container tracking, AES filing, and ISF, it should be easy to use for all types of shipments and regular and expedited ones. This list will also have all the top features that everyone would like to see. A few more meetings will follow, and the list will get broader or shorter, but there will be an agreement that if the new software does all these things, everything will be vastly better for everyone involved.
Cookie-cutter way to decide on a new freight software solution
Generally, at this point, one would quickly see that the list is an excellent summarization of what the current freight forwarding software lacks – mostly in terms of features. Though this is a very constructive critique of your existing software vendor product, this approach may not garner the best result in the long run for your company. As a rule, defining what you want by listing what you don't isn't a sound strategy.
Another way is selecting the software based on its features, and all the items specific software packages can do well. Yet with this approach, you run the risk of limiting your operations and, by extension, the service you offer by the software capabilities and not what you need.
Your logistics service is unique in its offering, and you should look for tools that enhance it. With a streamlined software solution, you chance falling into the trap of offering precisely the same service as your competitor that used the same software package.
The real requirements for your freight forwarding software
A better way is to invest some time to analyze your processes and workflows. Look to how your shipments come to be and what your service adds to them, mark the inception point that starts your shipment's life cycle. Gather all the steps you take to keep your customers happy. Have knowledge of what items you need to continually monitor them and improve relations, think things to give your sales team so they have an edge. Documenting this and understanding the situations your desk clerks encounter to meet expectations. That is where your focus should be.
When you make a solid list of requirements that best leverage what your company needs to be successful, it gives you a far better understanding of what you need and, more importantly, what you should ask from your software package.
An excellent place to start the exploration is to understand your company file processing eidos.
Get your processing philosophy mirrored in your system
When looking broadly at how most forwarders structure their international freight departments, you quickly see lines of division between import and export. Sometimes broken down further by either transportation mode, air, or sea, then either by customer grouping or geographical area and so forth. Granular break downs of this kind allow for specialization in an area that gives the company the know-how to provide excellent service on a business lane or shipment type.
This knowledge is what you sell; how that gets communicated is what helps shape your business relationships.
These divisions are often are set up by design, but generally, as time passes, natural groupings result. But what you will also see, layered on top, is a unique management philosophy that typically comes in a mix of three flavors.
- File centric processing (cradle-to-grave)
- Task centric processing (assemble line)
- Account centric processing (account management)
Here a forwarder won't be an exact iteration of one but more likely a mix of each, to which a work eidos is set that best suits its customer base, service type, and by extension, its bottom line. There are countless freight forwarding software solutions meeting one demand or another, but rarely one that meets them all.
Scope – the freight forwarding software that caters to the three flavors of processing
To get the most out of Scope, you should know where your company's eidos lie. Because Scope can cater to each of these philosophies and any divisions, knowing how you want to provide your service then becomes a simple question of establishing the workflows that best fit the eidos. In turn, it will allow you to identify the critical area that can be automated or might need more transparency. Simply put, knowing how you work will allow you to optimize, leverage, and automate.
Are you more file centric?
You will want to use the robust tracking plans in Scope that keep shipment up to date along with the built-in shipment monitor that will allow you and your customer to keep tabs on all your shipments' lifecycle in one place. The two tools work together and solve many issues by allowing for real-time transparency and added visibility to prevent the problems from happening. Additionally, the tracking plans can also link with third parties like carriers and customs system to allow for automatic updates on the current status of a shipment. This will give your team visibility as to what they need to work on next and automatically notify you when something is about to or has gone wrong. Then combined with Scope Connect, you provide your customers with an advanced tracking software tool that allows them to see the status of a shipment online or on their phone.
Are you more task-centric?
You can use the many functions of Scope to hand over responsibility between different desks but while also keeping track of who did what. That aligned with the shipment overview provides transparency of what files need to be worked on by who and most importantly, when. Additionally, the customer tracking plan can be set up by the customer or workflow, allowing your department heads an easy and straightforward overview of all shipments in the shipment monitor. And because the plans are so multi-functional, you can add tracking, messaging even alerts when something didn't have or when it should have. These added layers ensure that every task needs to happen happens.
Are you more account centric?
Scope has a tried and true forwarding module for Air, Sea, and road. However, when it comes to managing accounts, you need to be able to extend before and after the shipment. To that end, we have a robust forwarding module that allows a customer service rep to schedule and plan but doesn't have to work the files. The forwarding module acts as a place holder that links to the operational files, and the two talk to each other automatically. Meaning the operations clerk can do the operations, and the customer service representative can focus on the customer. As progress through the shipment life cycle moves forward, the customer service clerk is updated, in real-time, to allow them to relay any information to their accounts. With this, in combination with a detailed CRM and customer code creator, Scope offers to house and document all the peculiarities you want to keep track of for your customers.
Would you like to know more?
Request a call, and we will show you how Scope can work for you.