Dock management is the key to on-time deliveries, from both the starting point to the end destination. Depending on the scale of operation, many companies and distributors will schedule a specific delivery time or timeframe, along with a specific docking bay, for both the loading and unloading of goods. The manner in which the driver receives notification of his or her assigned dock can vary. It could be a phone call or an e-mail. It could also be pre-assigned in the form of a document, note or other hardcopy. In some instances, they don’t create any schedules or assign specific docks.
A few daily deliveries may not create scheduling problems. The same cannot be said for businesses that receive dozens or hundreds of daily deliveries. Not having a sufficient scheduling process can in place can result in long times, disrupted timelines and flaring tempers.
Regardless of the manner by which a company or distributor handles inbound deliveries, online dock scheduling software can help these groups automate, streamline and improve this important-and oftentimes frustrating-procedure.
WHAT IS ONLINE DOCK SCHEDULING SOFTWARE?
Online dock scheduling applications and shipping systems-also known as online appointment-scheduling, reservation software, Web-based scheduler and other terms-are Software as a Service (SaaS) programs that allow businesses to effortlessly manage their schedules and customers right through the Internet. Like online banking and e-mail, users access the software in the same manner as they would any other Web site. They simply type in a specific URL address and log in to access their account.
Some online transportation management systems allow the user to customize it to best fit its specific needs. For example, he or she can add specific docks, assign delivery and pick-up times, and block off days and times when the facility is closed or does not accept deliveries or pick-ups. Additionally, users can typically adjust the appearance of the scheduler to match the business’ colors. Some even let you add a company logo.
Functionality varies among dock scheduling providers. Standard features found in many providers include:
• Driver/Supplier Online Self-Scheduling. This popular feature helps business automate their docking processes by giving drivers and supplies the ability to schedule their own delivery times and, if required, specific docks. They simply access the online scheduler, view open slots and docks, and then finalize their delivery time. Once confirmed, the software automatically sets the date and time and makes that slot unavailable. Since it’s Web-based, all that’s required is an Internet connection. The business typically sends the driver or supplier the link to access the scheduler, along with any special instructions or login information.
• Automated E-Mail and Text Message Reminders. Some online docking systems can send automatic e-mail and text message reminders to drivers and supplies prior to their schedule delivery time. This can be especially beneficial for deliveries scheduled days and weeks out, and studies have shown that reminders can help reduce the number of “no-shows” and late deliveries. Best of all, these reminders are automatic and don’t require any additional steps or effort to send out.
• Record-keeping and Reporting. Proper record-keeping is vital for delivery and shipping operations. It’s also tedious and time-consuming, especially if dock staff manually enter it into a book or spreadsheet or if they maintain several separate files, folders or databases. Gathering all this information for reports can be frustrating. Online dock scheduling software collects and manages customer delivery information in one centralized location, making it easy to access. Additionally, some dock-scheduling software applications offer standard reports that quickly pull, disseminate and organize delivery details.
• Internal Scheduling Option. Some companies choose not to utilize the online driver/supplier self-scheduling option. They prefer to schedule deliveries and assign docks internally. Online dock scheduling software is the perfect tool for this as well. Most offer “point-and-click” functionality, making the software as easy to use as navigating a Web page or
BENEFITS OF ONLINE DOCK-SCHEDULING SOFTWARE
Businesses that incorporate online dock-scheduling software into their operations can expect to see immediate results, especially if they offer online drive and supplier self-scheduling. Among the benefits of online dock-scheduling software are:
• Accessibility.As a Web-based program, it’s accessible from any location via the Internet. This benefits not only suppliers and drivers on the road, but also dock staff that may operate from different on-site locations or away from the premises. Unlike traditional software programs confined to one computer or network, online dock-scheduling software is accessible anywhere and at any time.
• Affordability. Most dock-scheduling software applications are affordable. Some don’t even require long-term contracts and offer month-to-month payment options. Since it’s accessible online, the service does not require expensive hardware or long installations to use.
• Time and Monetary Savings. Businesses that rely on dock-scheduling software have reported substantial time and monetary savings. In many cases, they’re better managing their daily schedules and are minimizing the frequency of late deliveries, which reduces the amount of overtime for dock workers.
Proper scheduling of docks and delivery times can mean the difference between a well-run operation and one plagued with late arrivals, inaccurate information and frustrated staff and drivers. Thanks to online dock-scheduling software applications, businesses nationwide are tapping into the power of the Internet and SaaS programs to automate, streamline and improve this important task.