Asking the right questions can help make sure your capacity management solution helps you achieve your goals.
Choosing the right capacity management vendor can be complicated. The promises made by the various solutions on the market are all similar. They say they’ll bring you new carriers. However, capacity management is a little more complicated than that. Here are some questions you can ask potential capacity management vendors to make sure they can help you design a comprehensive strategy that fits your organization’s needs.
1. How do you measure success?
Your capacity management provider should offer you success on your terms. That means you need to first assess what capacity management success would look like to you, what your goals are related to the system. Do you want your representatives to have the opportunity to be more productive? Do you want to achieve higher margins on loads? Do you want to get loads booked faster? Do you want some combination of all the above and have a savings target?
By asking what a vendor’s idea of success is, you can ensure that it lines up with your brokerage’s idea of success. It’s a great way to start the conversation on whether a vendor can offer the tools you need to achieve your goals.
2. How does the system find carriers outside your existing carrier network?
It’s important to know where the system is sourcing potential carriers from and how the system knows that those carriers have capacity.
Ideally, the system will not only provide you with viable carriers with capacity to spare, but also offer information to help you decide on the right carrier, make it easy to contact those carriers, and store any additional information gathered during engagement.
3. What happens when the system finds a match?
Say a system says it’s got a great match for a load you’re trying to get covered. What then? Does the system automatically engage the carrier? How does it engage the carrier? Does your brokerage need to reach out to the carrier?
There’s more to finding capacity than finding a carrier that appears to be able to cover the load. Carriers have to be contacted so the quoting and/or booking process can ensue. Ideally, this process is made simpler for brokerages when the system reaches out to carriers for quotes or even offers them the opportunity to book the load immediately, saving countless steps and potential hours of back-and-forth.
4. What signals are used to find capacity?
The signals that are used to find capacity largely determine whether the capacity a system turns up will be a good match. Knowing which signals are being used and from where they’re being gathered can help you know whether the program is going to find good matches for your loads within your current processes.
It can also help you understand how much processes will need to change for the system to be effective.
5. How does the system enable you to reuse existing carriers?
Carrier reuse is one of the major ways capacity management providers offer value, but they don’t necessarily go about it the same way. There are several questions you can ask to make sure the software’s carrier reuse strategy works for you.
Will you use the system to build a carrier network? Will it build a network of carriers for you, saving carrier preferences so that it can match them with ideal loads? Does the system give preference to carriers with whom you’ve already built a relationship? How does the system keep track of your network?
6. Can carriers automatically quote and book loads?
One of the capacity management system features that can save you the most time and money is automatic quoting and booking. It allows representatives to invest more time in building carrier relationships instead of haggling back and forth about pricing or walking carriers through a tedious booking process.
Make sure that a potential provider offers automatic quoting and booking features to improve your ROI and give carriers a better experience.
7. Does the system keep learning over time?
In years past, a program was what it was, though you might find better ways to use it over the years. Now, machine learning and AI mean that systems can keep learning and tailoring themselves to meet your needs the more you use them.
Ask your software provider if their system can keep learning using AI and/or machine learning so that you can stay on the leading edge of the industry. If a system can’t learn over time, you’ll likely need new systems before you’re ready to invest in them to keep up with the competition.
8. Can I use this inside my TMS?
Some capacity management programs have a separate portal that you use outside of your current software. Some programs work from within your TMS, integrating to cut down on steps and tedious data entry. Some can do both.
It’s worth asking whether your carriers will have to work from inside a separate portal, as well. Some carriers prefer to avoid stepping outside of their current processes to do business with a brokerage, and it’s important to know how they’ll interact within the capacity management program, as well.
9. Does it replace tools I’m already using?
In many instances, a capacity management solution may be able to replace some of the tools your brokerage currently uses to get loads covered.
For instance, Parade allows you to syndicate loads from their system directly to load boards, even showing them specifically to your trusted carrier network on those load boards if you so choose.
10. How long until I’ll see value?
This question really encompasses several more specific questions that are important to ask of any software vendor, not just capacity management solutions. Before you make a software investment, you’ll want to know how long it will take for you to see value. How long will it take to train your team? How long will it take to get the system integrated with your current programs? How long will it take for your team to use the system to create value?
With Parade, the Book Now feature means that freight brokerages can see value right out of the box. If you’d like to learn more about how Parade can offer ROI on day one of implementation, reach out to our team to set up a demo.