As a logistics service provider or a logistics department, how do you select the right software vendor? Which is the most suitable party? Any business about to embark on further digitalisation is likely to recognise these questions. The overwhelming choice of parties and solutions makes it very hard to see the woods for the trees. Essentially, choosing a logistics software vendor is much like entering into a relationship. It’s about finding the one who is ‘right for you’. To share the good times with, but also the hard times. Here are 10 tips for choosing the ideal software partner:
A solution appropriate to your situation requires in-depth knowledge of both IT and logistics. Not just from books, but also from practice. An attractive-looking software package is one thing, but does the software vendor actually understand your logistics challenges?
#2 Talk to the right people
No-one can trumpet the benefits of a software package like a sales manager. But ultimately, the people who will make the difference within the software vendor’s organisation are the logistics consultant, the project manager and their team. So when choosing a software partner, it is crucial to sit down with them as well.
#3 Know what you want
Have a clear idea of what it is you want to achieve beforehand. More efficiency? Increased customer satisfaction? Cost cutting? Staying ahead of the competition? Or perhaps to become a more attractive employer? digitalisation is a means, not an end in itself. The right software vendor is your partner in achieving your identified goals (and ideally even more than that).
#4 Bring the right people to the table yourself
Digitalisation is about people. That goes for your own organisation as much as for the software vendor. Practice shows that IT projects organised from the top down sadly often fail. Involve future users and let them have their say in your dialogue with the software vendor.
#5 Listen to your gut
The prettiest girl in the class is by no means always the best partner. If the feeling isn’t there, it won’t work out. Besides all the objective criteria, it is important to listen to your gut. Can I get along with the software vendor's consultant or project manager? If not, you may have a long and arduous process ahead of you.
#6 Ask others for advice
Others are likely to have preceded you in your choice of logistics software. Read their customer stories. Or better yet, arrange a meeting with a competitor/fellow customer. There’s no better reference than one from daily practice!
#7 Work step by step
A relationship requires constant discussion, coordination and improvement. Handing an assignment to a software vendor and saying "see you in a year" is likely to end in disappointment. Better to choose a firm that uses the scrum method – short sprints with a new piece of software every two weeks. That way, you can make adjustments as you go along.
#8 Monitor consistency
No one starts a digitalisation pathway from scratch. New software always needs to fit with existing systems. With the right links – for example, via an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) – data exchange between old and new is no problem at all.
#9 Keep customers and supply chain partners in mind
Digitalising your own processes is one thing; what is much more important, and will become even more so in future, is communicating digitally with customers and supply chain partners. Using web-based technology makes it easy for anyone to connect, without requiring anyone to make big investments to facilitate data exchange.
#10 Everything remains fluid
No matter how well prepared you are, logistics digitalisation is never entirely straightforward. A typical feature of automation projects is that things get clearer as you go along. Not everything is possible, sometimes things have to be done differently. With a software vendor who is right for you, you will build a close relationship and so achieve optimum results together, step by step.
Looking for the ideal software partner? We at Yellowstar would love to introduce ourselves, let’s get to know each other soon. Call +31 88 141 88 00 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment. Who knows, maybe this first date will be the start of a successful (software) relationship.