7 Key Things to Look For When Selecting Your Dispatch Software

April 20, 2020

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Key Takeaways

Dispatch software is one of the primary tools that fleet managers and dispatchers rely on to ensure that drivers are running efficient routes to keep your customers happy. When it comes to choosing the right dispatch software for your fleet, here are seven things to keep in mind.

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If you’re a fleet that operates a large number of vehicles across many regions or states, it’s crucial that you are efficiently dispatching your drivers in order to streamline your operations and keep your company running smoothly. Dispatch software is one of the primary tools that fleet managers and dispatchers rely on to ensure that drivers are running the right routes in the fastest way possible so you can keep your customers happy. 

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of dispatch software, the benefits of dispatch software for different kinds of fleets, as well as the essential features and characteristics you should look for when selecting your dispatch management software. 

What is dispatch software?

Dispatch software can refer to one tool or many tools that a fleet uses to assign drivers to different jobs. These tools are also used to ensure that drivers aren’t falling behind on routes and will reach their destination on-time. A quality dispatch software solution should help you automate routing and scheduling for drivers and provide an easy way for dispatchers to create the most efficient routes and deliveries. 

Nowadays, many fleets look for dispatch software that integrates with telematics devices that feed vehicle locations into a desktop dashboard. Some telematics devices only track and transmit the GPS locations of vehicles but others, like Samsara’s, can provide additional useful insights like engine diagnostics, fuel usage, and safety-related data. 

This GPS information is then fed into software that displays the location of every vehicle within your fleet on a map view of the regions you operate in. Dispatchers use this GPS information and map view to assign drivers routes and track their progress while en route. If drivers are stuck on their route or running behind schedule, dispatchers can see this and check in with the driver to update their routes and ensure they arrive at their destination on schedule. Some dispatch software solutions also offer a mobile device for drivers. This enables dispatchers to easily send routes to drivers and update these routes if need be, all without the need for manual calls. Drivers receive their routes and any changes to them right on their smartphone, making it easy for them to navigate and change course if need be. 

What are the benefits of dispatch software?

Incorporating dispatching software into your fleet can have a host of benefits for your dispatchers, drivers, and customers. Some of the benefits of a dispatch management system include: 

  • End-to-end transportation management: While the phrase “dispatch” may lead you to think that dispatch management solutions are only used at the beginning of a route—when drivers are sent out—that isn’t true. Dispatch software gives fleets complete insights into the entire journey of a driver. With these insights into a driver’s entire journey, you can easily identify common problems on routes. Plus you can update and optimize routes to decrease delivery and arrival times to delivery drop offs or job sites. 

  • Flexibility as you grow your fleet: Dispatch software is highly scalable, customizable, and can adjust with your fleet to suit your business needs. As your business grows, dispatch trucking software makes it easy to continue ensuring the same quality of customer service and driver efficiency. 

  • Improved customer satisfaction: Exceptional customer service is important for fleets to not only retain current customers but attract new customers as well. For most fleets, improving customer satisfaction mostly comes down to ensuring that drivers and technicians arrive at delivery locations or job sites on time. With dispatch management software, your dispatchers can easily plan the fastest routes for drivers and update routes to avoid slowdowns from unexpected conditions, like bad weather. This ensures that drivers aren’t late and are more likely to consistently arrive on-time. 

  • Reduced back office workloads: Dispatch management systems provide visibility into driver locations, eliminating the need for your office staff to manually call drivers to identify their locations and delivery ETAs. If your dispatch software provides real-time GPS data for your vehicles, this visibility is even more precise. Your back office can focus on more impactful work and improve their efficiency by eliminating the need to spend hours on the phone with drivers. 

  • Adapt to changing conditions: There are many things that can change for drivers en route — from last-minute work orders to bad weather and traffic conditions. Dispatch software allows dispatchers to easily update and change routes to respond to changing conditions and keep drivers on time. Some dispatch management solutions, like Samsara, even provide traffic and weather map overlays so dispatchers can easily reroute drivers to avoid conditions that will slow them down. 

Do certain kinds of fleets benefit more from dispatching software? 

Almost every kind of fleet, from food and beverage transportation to field services, can benefit from the use of dispatch software. But different types of fleets will use dispatching software in unique ways, so they may see different benefits. For example, a field service company like an HVAC servicer might use dispatch software to locate the nearest technician to a customer who calls in saying their air conditioning isn’t working. The dispatcher uses software to assign routes to service calls in real-time based on the locations of field technicians. So a technician’s route might be different on a day to day basis. This allows them to ensure that customers are always receiving the fastest service and quickest response time possible, which helps to boost customer experience and satisfaction. 

On the other hand, a fleet that transports produce to groceries stores might leverage dispatching software a bit differently. Because many drivers are usually running the same routes over and over again, dispatchers would use their software to schedule and assign regular routes to drivers instead of frequently routing drivers in real-time. They might look at the analytics of these routes to see if they can tweak and optimize them so drivers are consistently running their routes in the most efficient way possible. 

So while all fleets can benefit from a dispatch solution, the way they leverage their software and how they benefit from these tools may differ. 

What should you look for when selecting a dispatch management software? 

There are many kinds and types of dispatch management solutions available on the market, which can make it difficult to decide which system is best for your fleet. When choosing which solution to use, there are some key characteristics and features you should look out for. If a dispatch solution has the following six features, it can not only ensure efficient route planning and scheduling but can improve and streamline the overall operations of your fleet. 

Ease of installation

First and foremost, dispatch management solutions should be easy to install and intuitive to use—both in terms of the hardware and the software. Dispatch solutions usually come in two parts: a telematics device that collects vehicle data and the software that those data points are fed into. Telematics devices that require lengthy, complicated installation processes make it difficult to get up and running so you can actually see the benefits of the dispatch solution. Plus, as you scale your business and add more vehicles, installation will become more complex and time consuming. Samsara’s telematics device, Vehicle Gateways (VGs), offer easy plug-and-play installation that can be completed by your own mechanics in under 30 minutes per vehicle. Our VGs work with any vehicle model, including cars, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, and buses. All data collected by VGs is uploaded and stored in the cloud, so it’s readily and easily accessible through the Samsara dashboard on any mobile device, tablet, or computer. 

Real-time GPS tracking 

Dispatch management software that provides breadcrumb GPS tracking instead of real-time GPS tracking makes it difficult for dispatchers to quickly respond to new work orders and service calls, as well as shifting road or traffic conditions. Your back office has to spend valuable time manually calling drivers to update their routes, which decreases their productivity and efficiency. 

Solutions like Samsara that provide live-to-the-second GPS data allow dispatchers to instantly track vehicle locations, route progress, and late or missed stops. This reduces manual back office workloads while allowing dispatchers to always have an accurate, complete picture of whether or not drivers are on-track, on-time, and showing up to the right jobs at the proper time.

Sharing ETAs with customers and stakeholders

Customer satisfaction relies heavily on ensuring on-time deliveries. But most customers are understanding if your drivers are running behind, as long as they are made aware of updated ETAs. The earlier you can inform your customers of delivery changes, the more forgiving and understanding they may be. But, if you don’t have real-time insights into your drivers, it can be almost impossible to provide customers with accurate updates to their deliveries or service calls. 

With Samsara’s Live Sharing feature, you can share live ETA links with customers and stakeholders so they can track route progress in real-time. They can also receive automatic alerts if your drivers’ ETAs change. These real-time insights reduce the need to manually call and update customers, which helps streamline back office efficiency. Plus, with full visibility into your drivers’ routes, customers are more likely to be understanding and forgiving of ETA changes—which helps boost customer satisfaction.  

An open API

Dispatch management solutions that operate as single-purpose tools make it difficult to efficiently manage your fleet. Instead, your office staff is forced to spend time switching back and forth between your dispatch software, route planner, transportation management software, and other tools. Plus, valuable data and insights into your vehicles and drivers might slip through the cracks because your tools aren’t talking to each other. 

Samsara’s open API makes it easy to sync all your tools so all your data sits together and you have full visibility into your entire operation. With all of your systems seamlessly connected, your dispatchers’ jobs become easier and your business becomes more efficient because you can make routing, job scheduling, and dispatching decisions using a complete set of data. 

Mobile app for drivers 

If your dispatchers are frustrated with all the time it takes to manually call drivers to update them on route changes, new work orders, or service calls, they’re not alone. Dispatchers can spend several hours a week trying to call and reach drivers. Dispatch solutions that offer a driver-facing app eliminate the headache of manual calling. Samsara’s Driver App makes it simple for dispatchers to send drivers routes directly to their smartphone without the need for a call. Drivers can see exactly where they need to be, what time they need to arrive by, and the fastest route to get there. Any updates to routes or jobs are instantly updated in the app, eliminating the need for any manual workflows. Plus, drivers can also use the app to perform vehicle inspections, capture fuel receipts and other documents, and record and track their HOS. 

A complete and unified fleet management system 

A key characteristic of a robust and effective dispatch solution is that it’s just one component of a complete, unified fleet management platform. Samsara’s telematics device, VGs, not only collect real-time GPS data but a variety of different data points to gain full insights into your entire fleet. Our VGs also collect engine diagnostics and fault codes, detect harsh braking and accelerating, and track HOS to ensure ELD compliance. With these insights, you can not only efficiently manage dispatching and route planning, but can create preventative fleet maintenance schedules, build a safer fleet through driver coaching, and ensure compliance to avoid HOS violations. 

To find out more about how Samsara’s fleet management and dispatch solution can improve your efficiency, streamline your operations, and improve customer satisfaction, reach out for a free demo or trial today.

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