There is no question that powerful software helps people and businesses do more, especially in the logistics industry. Decision-making, costing, route changes, reach, consolidation, and market performance hinge dramatically on being able to process a dramatic amount of information daily getting product from point A to point B. Add in a constantly changing landscape of transportation networks, fluid conditions, periodically revised regulations, and price-sensitive clients, and a broker has the perfect storm for a challenging situation to stay on top of and work through. With all this in play, the need for a freight broker software with value-adding features is critical.
No surprise, successful freight brokers rely heavily on software management to keep track of their current clients, pending agreements and new opportunities. Part customer records management, part load management and inventory, part database, modern freight management software has to usually be all things at once. And that can be hard when many software tools are designed to only be good at one thing, not multiple demands.
Look Into the Details for Critical Features
Key factors should be included in any software that’s going to be applied by the freight broker industry as a minimum floor for performance, and it’s also what a customer should be looking for when comparing options. Those include:
- A design where a freight broker had a direct input on how the software was designed; there are simply too many nuances specific to the industry that need to be included to be fully functional.
- A tool feature allowing easy quotes to be generated and sent to clients based on contacts records already in its database.
- Organization features that allow a broker to group accounts by common industry tags and properties.
- An invoice generating tool based on committed activity and commitments recorded in the system.
- An ability to upgrade the software as industry demands change and new requirements need to be included.
- Redundancy is built in so records and details are backed up versus being at risk of data loss that can take weeks to recover.
- Compatibility with industry standards and regulations.
- Cloud-based so a customer can work from anywhere as needed to access the system, manage orders and generate communications, quote or invoice as needed electronically.
- Templates for load management and complex order creation to reduce errors and increase standardization in documentation.
- Access to finding carriers within a built-in carrier database.
- Integration with email platforms.
- Easy access to load history for current and past clients.
- Integration with common accounting tools like QuickBooks or Excel.
- Calendar tracking, timers, deadline tools, and clock features.
- Most importantly, robust, 128-bit security defense from data hacks and related information loss.
That might seem like a long list and even excessive, but without it, a freight broker is going to end up doing all the same independently, which leaves room for confusion, mistakes, lost data, and worst of all, lost business.
Subscription Versus Owning Licenses
One of the big questions that also comes up is whether to own freight broker software or subscribe to it. While owning a full license might seem like one cost and then its full control, the reality is that owned software goes obsolete very quickly. Ideally, there is software updating support, but this kind of help works on a short window, and eventually, the software in question is deprecated altogether and becomes useless. Instead, with a subscription version, the software used is kept up to date constantly. There is no need to go out and buy the next version; it already happens on a constant flow with the subscription. Every time one connects, they are working with the last program version with the latest features. It’s a far more efficient, cost-effective route for maintaining responsive digital tools that work.
Powerful Tools are Available Now
Modern tools like LoadPilot and similar are built with business requirements defined by freight brokers with significant depth in their industry. Their design is responsive to what users actually need versus being generic software packages intended to be one-size-fits-all for multiple industries and never really serve anyone well. Again, with the subscription approach, new changes based on feedback loops and new technology coming online can be applied and benefit users even more versus waiting for traditional software development cycles.
Facing the Future Confidently
The digital world isn’t going to go away anytime soon; in fact, management, sharing, and utilization of freight data is only going to increase as more and more of it becomes available for collection and interpretation. For freight brokers, activity data is as much about business health as having orders and managing transportation challenges effectively. Just as the lack of carriers can really hamstring a broker’s effectiveness, so can the lack of data being able to manage, share, and distribute freight information with customers. So, the software used has to meet the challenge all the time, every time.
At the same time, security risks continue to create challenges, especially for cloud platforms and the sharing of information with cloud resources. As a result, any software used in today’s freight brokering industry needs to be robust, dependable, and reliable. Given the amount of information associated with sensitive concerns ranging from accounting to sensitive manifest information for shipping, data breaches can’t be tolerated. So successful software packages are utilizing encryption features on par with tools banks use for their business communication. This type of approach aggressively follows using the power of prevention to avoid loss and related costs before ever having to deal with damage control after the fact.
While the freight brokering industry might not be as visible as others, freight brokering provides a powerful service for companies and shippers, so the software tools used need to match that capability. Filtering through to the best of the best comes with knowing what to look for in features. Avoid the sales glitz and focus on the performance that actually produces results.