Delivery management is the function of applying processes to ensure goods are effectively and efficiently transferred from one location to the next. Sometimes called dispatch or fleet management, it answers the question, “How do we get this item from point A to point B?”. As consumer expectations continue to rise, this function has never been in greater demand. In this article we will discuss who is typically in charge of delivery management within an organization and how they can leverage software to do that job more effectively.
Note: “Delivery management” is also often used to refer to a general project management function that focuses on completing projects and controlling other business processes. This article focuses on the version that relates exclusively to delivery as it relates to the movement of goods.
Who is in charge of delivery management?
The person in charge of deliveries is usually called a delivery, logistics or dispatch manager. Delivery managers are often tasked with managing local delivery and driver operations. In smaller companies, they are often the middle point of contact between warehouses and those making deliveries. In more robust operations where orders are programmatically processed, delivery managers tend to focus on problem spots like delayed orders.
Improving delivery management
Whether you’re a small business just getting started or a multi-national juggernaut, delivery management is all about process improvement. Delivery operations are constantly striving to drive down costs by completing more deliveries with fewer resources (man hours, vehicles, fuel) while still maintaining a high level of customer service. Delivery managers regularly leverage a number of tools and strategies for improving their metrics and scaling up their operations.
Route optimization: Instead of routing each and every task by hand, route optimization algorithms can be used generate more efficient routes in less time. Advanced optimization software can factor in constraints like delivery windows, vehicle capacity, driver schedules and even traffic patterns to suggest the optimal route for drivers. Route optimization can also generate estimated arrival times that can be used for internal and customer communication purposes.
Automated dispatch: Running an on-demand delivery business at scale requires automating the dispatching process to some degree. Unlike scheduled deliveries, which can leverage forward-looking route optimization, on-demand businesses need to be able to dispatch on the fly as new orders come in. Instead of trying to contend with a wave of incoming orders, organizations like Food Connect use automated dispatching to programmatically assign orders to nearby drivers who can realistically complete the order within the allotted time frame. Automating dispatch frees up a delivery manager’s precious time to focus on handling exceptions and ensuring customers are satisfied.
Vehicle tracking: Is a driver on his or her way to their next delivery or accidentally heading in the opposite direction? Are they stuck in traffic? Real-time visibility into vehicle locations can help dispatchers understand when a driver may be off course, saving precious resources and avoiding costly delays. Vehicle tracking is also leveraged by customer support teams to inform customers when their delivery will likely be completed. Companies like Caliva use vehicle tracking technology to comply with California regulations for their industry while Leon & George uses the same data to provide their customers with a great experience as they wait for their delivery.
Proof of delivery: For some operations this means getting a customer signature to confirm receipt of a package. For others it might mean taking a photo of where a package was left so that it can be shared with the customer later. Advanced delivery operations will also leverage barcode scanning to make sure the right package (and only the right package) is delivered to a given location. This chain of custody is especially important for pharmaceuticals and other sensitive deliveries.
Reducing liability costs: By tracking the metrics of your fleet and the behavior of your drivers, businesses are often able to reduce insurance costs by providing their brokers with access to this data.
Team and customer communication: In an ideal world your drivers and dispatchers might never need to communicate via text or voice. Tasks would be assigned by the dispatchers and tasks would be completed by the drivers. However in the real world it is absolutely essential to facilitate easy communication between team members. If a driver is having trouble finding a dropoff location or reaching a customer, their first call is often to their dispatcher for guidance. This guidance is one of the key components of delivery management. With realtime chat, these communications are not only streamlined but enhanced by the added context of the driver’s location and the details of their active delivery.
Whether you are moving from a home-brew solution of managing multiple spreadsheets and calling delivery drivers to utilizing robust delivery management software, the end result is always the same — to get the customer what they ordered, when they want it.
If you’re looking to improve your delivery management process, and would like to learn more about doing it with delivery management software, feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear what you’re up to.