Having cloud-based systems has been a game changer for software in the supply chain field and the benefits to this are praised immensely. With this, technology professionals get to control software development and supply chain providers have the chance to continue focusing on their core competencies. In other words, supply chain providers are able to get ahold of updated business-wide systems without the involved costs and implementation troubles linked to in-house development.
However, what do you need to know when considering a new cloud-based logistics suite? What questions should you ask your provider? How do you confirm the promises they make? Are they the right partner for your corporate culture and governance requirements?
Historically, logistics software has largely evolved from the efforts of entrepreneurial freight forwarders and warehouse specialists. Their aim was to build tools that underpinned their relationships with crucial customers and this software expanded over time into applications suites for the broader marketplace.
The influence of this background on current product development and the transparency of vendor/customer relationships needs to be explored in any tender assessment. Before you do anything, here are five key questions to ask so you can make the right decision in selecting a vendor.
Does the software vendor understand and meet the needs of your business?
Your logistics Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) always needs to be flexible to support your business, whether your focus is broad or narrow. A software developer that knows what they’re doing will know your sector in detail and have years of experience when it comes to working with supply chain providers across all sectors. Find out if they’ve dealt with your obstacles before, your workflow requirements, your challenges and whether or not they’ve built solutions to these issues into the product. When looking for a vendor, experience matters more than the size of their business.
Will you be empowered by the software partner or locked in?
Has the software developer simply scrambled to put their on-premise software on the market as a hosted solution? Or is it a true cloud application where the software and commercial models have been created specifically for industry-wide capabilities and hassle-free operational integration?
True cloud solutions are always the number one solution. They’re capable of being switched on without months of costly implementation services, intuitive to use for rapid adoption, and have a low lifetime cost through being both flexible and scalable. Software developers commit hours into creating tools that are tested and proven before you switch them on. You can tailor them to suit your needs without extra costs or delays in development time and you only have to subscribe for the period the service is delivering value.
Who owns the software company? Is there conflict of interest?
It’s important to look into who owns the software company. Afterwards, then check if there’s any conflict of interest between your company and the software developer or the company that’s hosting your data. Do they have other responsibilities across a forwarder business unit and the software solution provider? Even if there’s no overlay, there needs to be acknowledgement of the degree of separation between the two operational units. Will you be comfortable with your service provider and competitor being the same?
How healthy is the vendor?
Changing IT systems is a big step in any business. It is certainly crucial that you see a long-term relationship between you and the vendor you select. Do thorough research into the stated directions for product development, its reputation in the marketplace and financial strength of the organization.
Is the vendor looking to future trends?
Logistics is an ever-evolving field as e-tail, productivity enhancement tools and logistics devices-as-a-service are positioned to become the next game-changers. Therefore, whoever you partner up with needs to be a provider that is constantly creating technology solutions for the future. Ask them where they see the industry heading and how their product development will bring new capability ahead of industry trends.
A question to also ask yourself is Warehouse Software Systems – Can You Live Without Them? Find out!