When transportation operations teams consider moving from static to dynamic routing, there are numerous questions that come up:
- How will the transition affect my customers?
- How will the transition affect my organization?
- What’s going to change? For the worse? For the better?
- What can go wrong in the process?
- What are best practices for the transition?
- What are the short-term and long-term benefits/opportunities?
We hear these questions every day and work with our customers and prospective customers to address each and every one. As with any change to an established system or process, the keys to success are communication and expectation management — with everyone at every level of your team, and with your customers, too.
On the service and efficiency continuum, static routes are heavily weighted toward service. Customers see the same drivers regularly, and drivers have full predictability in their customer base and routes. With dynamic routing, service and efficiency are balanced. Customer time windows are always met, and drivers have the tools to make the delivery experience easy (digital notes, parking pins, truck navigation). On the efficiency side, the fleet is utilized most effectively, which reduces mileage and hours, and takes vehicles off the road.
What’s likely to change with dynamic routing? The first thing will be the need to implement a strict customer order cutoff time so trucks can be packed. With static routing, you can start packing trucks as soon as orders arrive since you already know the vehicle. In contrast, with dynamic routing, you won’t know the vehicle until the routes are built each night, unless some portion of that routes are designated as static. (Most Wise Systems customers still pick orders as they come in and stage them near the loading dock so they are queued up once routes are built.)
So why make the change? The move from static to dynamic routing is generally driven by executive leadership’s desire to increase performance, capacity and growth. Those are strong motivations that need to be communicated to the entire transportation operations team. For a management-driven initiative, success depends on everyone’s participation — from warehouse operations to dispatching and routing to drivers. It’s the entire team’s responsibility to make the transition from static to dynamic routing seamless to customers.
In the process, drivers, routers and dispatchers will experience a significant shift in the way they do their jobs, ceding some control over the process to a software system. This can prompt some initial resistance, especially in the early stages as teams work to verify that software-driven solutions successfully meet their needs, and develop an understanding of how solutions are determined. For this reason, spending ample time preparing the routing and dispatching teams is essential to creating team-wide buy-in.
Beyond the overarching business goals and expected returns, everyone needs to understand exactly how the new processes will work, when they will be rolled out, and what the learning curve will look like. Building in time for role-specific training and change management is crucial, enabling teams to get familiar with how the new processes will affect them. After all, if your team has used static routing for a decade or more, dynamic routing will feel significantly different and it may take more than a day or two for them to become comfortable. Along the way, stakeholders must be continuously reminded about the organization’s long-term goals and vision and how the day-to-day changes fit within that framework.
Does this mean that the investment isn’t worthwhile? Not at all. The upsides of implementing dynamic routing typically create additional capacity, growth and opportunities for team members. The keys to adoption and success are in communication and expectation setting.