Creating a Transportation Business Plan Using a Transport Management System
Modern transportation businesses are based on technology more than ever before. The days of manual recordkeeping and fleet management are long gone. Everything is automated now and not just for ease of business. The recent Indian Motor Vehicles Act Amendment of 2019 has made it mandatory for all transport vehicles to carry a FASTag.
This gets synced in with a central Transport Management System which can keep track of all trucks or other carrier vehicles out there. This does make a whole of difference in how your business can work. It can boost operational efficiency, enhance accountability and even validate strategic moves on your part. Needless to say, you will need a system to make all this happen and stay competitive in the market.
Here is a list of the key steps you need to take to make your transport business success with the right software:
1. Formulate the Conceptuals
The first thing you need to create any business is to formulate a conceptual plan. This involves considering which industries you want to serve, your client demographic, your geographic location, initial budget, and other factors. Once you have created a conceptual plan, you can consider how this can be condensed into software and put to driving your business plan forward.
The conceptualization is best done with software in mind. The transport software solutions which you will use can be a primary platform for your planning. Understanding the processes and protocols used in TMS software in your specific area will help you formulate a better plan. This will also benefit your overall financial planning since you can figure out how much technology investment you need.
2. Determine Your Technological Requirements
The systems out there are based on technological devices like trackers. If you have a fleet of transport vehicles, you will need trackers on each vehicle. Only when you have this technological resource can you make the most of your fleet management system. You will also need computers at your head office and any relay centers you might establish. Additionally, essentials like high-frequency antennae on the vehicles, internet connectivity in offices and trained drivers and in-office staff to make things work.
Further, you must look towards the long term costs of scaling the technology you buy. The technology will not be too costly and will not need scaling soon. However, this invests entirely in how the latest it is. Your devices should stay recent and useful for at least 3 to 5 years. This is the ideal technology investment in combination with your TMS. Remember to ensure that your intended technological investments are supported across the board with your in-house devices and clients as well.
3. Finding Your TMS
Your Transport Management System needs to fit your needs. It needs to define your approach to working your business and how you intend to provide your client’s services. For example, if you have a client-side mobile app that can provide the details on shipments then this leads to better customer service. However, you will need to spend a fair amount to develop the app and sync it with your TMS.
Now, as far as your TMS goes, you will need on-screen interfaces that can be used by trained operators to manage deliveries. An ideal TMS will include all aspects of not just your on-road deliveries and related logistics but your transport business operations as a whole. So, you need to find a transport management system which can balance the second by second needs of your deliveries as well as your overall business operations.
4. Commissioning Development
Once you have figured out all the ins and outs of your operation and related requirements, you need to commission it. The company you should choose will depend on the scale and specific requirements. Further, they must have experience in producing the kind of TMS that you want. Ideally, they will have a strong online presence and a string of past clients to whom they may be offering ongoing support.
Another important thing to consider for this commissioning is the upkeep factor. You will need a rounded off amount for the monthly maintenance and accidental damage. This must be factored into the overall costs before you can sign off on the development. Also, consider how you want to grow your business. This is important because it will determine how quickly you can scale your business and what technologies you can integrate.
5. Development Details
If you have formulated a solid plan then your development will work correctly. However, you also need to keep track of major milestones in the process. This is important because development oversight allows you to understand the TMS at an elementary level. You may not have time to do it yourself. In that case, you should assign it to someone who does have some insight. Also, the company you choose will have given you a development timeline. Use it to ensure you get the product you want.
The best way to do the above is to collaborate with the company representatives. They will update you at every major turn. You should use this opportunity to ensure they are moving the development correctly. Of course, this may not always be possible. But a discussion on the major details should give you a fair idea of what is happening.
Once the business software has been developed, it is time for deployment. Ensure that you have the computers and other key technology to see it installed correctly. Ideally, the rights for the software will be ported to you as well. This will ensure that only you and your designated professionals have access to your software. You should also ensure that the client-side interface works well. This calls for test deployment since you don’t want to bother your actual clients. So, use the software on your device and see if it can meet a satisfactory user experience criteria.
While you are deploying your software, you may also want to ensure your staff can operate it correctly. This will ensure you can troubleshoot by yourself and operate the software effectively. It also pays to get a basic manual or functionality walkthrough/to troubleshoot literature from the company. That way, you know what to do even if you have to get a new executive on the software interface.
After you have used your Transport Management Software for some time, you will need to upgrade it. This may be due to technological demands or simply for the scale of your business. Make sure that you understand how the software will be enhanced. This is important since your executives will need to operate it accordingly.
Also, you will need to upgrade your vehicular tracking material to get the best benefit from it. The upgrade needs to be effective, cost-efficient and minimally invasive on your day to day business activities. Make you also anticipate any impending developments that may be required on your software. They should be integrated as one single upgrade. This will reduce the time needed to deploy newly upgraded software later on.