The longer a driver stays with a company, the more comfortable and efficient he becomes with certain aspects of his day-to-day job – including route planning. Odds are, most of your drivers know their route for each day of the week like the back of their hand and don’t have to think twice about where to go next. You probably even have drivers that have been around long enough that they know the exact amount of product that each customer needs.

It’s great that your drivers are so engaged with customers to know such detail, but the question is – does anyone else in your organization know that same information?

While we all want our employees to take ownership of their job/clients/schedule/etc, it can become a slippery slope for your business to rely on tribal knowledge, with a lot of ‘what if’s’ along the way.

It’s projected that more than 60 million Baby Boomers will exit the workforce in the next 10 years and as those employees who have been around for 10, 20, or more years retire, how will that knowledge base be replaced? It’s virtually impossible to transfer that knowledge to another person and expect them to retain everything.

What if someone is sick for an extended period of time or quits unexpectedly? Who will know how much to deliver to whom? What’s the best route? If it only resides in your employee’s head, you’re not going to know.

It’s not something we like to think about, but it should be planned for.

That’s where technology comes in. Paper-based route planning and invoicing is no longer a reliable means to operate. There’s simply too much risk involved.

So, what route planning technologies help reduce tribal knowledge?

CRM

Customer Relationship Management systems are abundant and increasingly popular within most industries. Designed to store contacts and automate communications and interactions with both current and potential customers, many organizations use CRM applications like Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics to sync sales, marketing, and customer service activities.

With options available from simple contact management to full automation of marketing and sales processes, this is a great option to ensure you have the right contacts for all of your customers and understand how they’ve been communicated with.

Mobility

Paper delivery processes have a huge margin for error. Whether a simple miscalculation on a delivery ticket or giving an unintended discount, it’s easy for mistakes to be made while in the field. The odds of those mistakes being caught in a timely manner are slim.

By implementing a mobility solution, paper processes are replaced with electronic, automated processes where data collection is intentional by design and reduces the possibility of errors. Data collected is automatically transferred to back office systems, reducing the need for manual data entry and virtually eliminating the task of interpreting and clarifying information on handwritten tickets.

Fleet Tracking

Without even basic tracking, you truly can’t know where your drivers are, you simply have to trust that they are being truthful. Knowing where drivers (and vehicles) are located at any given time is a huge factor in improving fleet security and efficiency. Gaining the ability to see where they have been throughout the day, however, is the true advantage of a fleet tracking system. The data gained can be used to improve multiple areas across an organization.

Perhaps the most important improvement comes in realizing habits of each driver. This includes their driving behavior (harsh breaking, speeding, excessive idling, etc.), fuel usage, and routes driven. By understanding what routes are taken, fleet managers and dispatchers are able to determine if there are more efficient routes available, rather than relying on what has always been done.

Route Planning

For many organizations that have yet to implement technology in these areas, hours are spent each day mapping routes. This becomes even more difficult when new customers are added to a route and they must be fit in at a logical point.

When this process is replaced by a route planning application, it can be as simple as selecting customers from a list then letting the software do all of the work. A route can be created based on multiple criteria – least mileage, shortest time, most fuel efficient, etc. The impact this makes on an organization can be profound.

If your organization is reliant on tribal knowledge you may be in for a rude awakening at some point. Why risk it?

As technology has improved over time, and with the introduction of more cloud options, it has become more cost effective to implement these solutions than ever. The return on investment is generally high, as with nearly any automation solution, but the security gained for your business is incalculable.

Learn more about the automation solutions included in our FleetAtlas Framework.

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