Zachary HanzDirector, Product Marketing, FourKites

With Gartner having released its first-ever Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms (RTTVP) in April, the supply chain visibility software category received even further validation from the market. Today, businesses need faster access to information, reliably accurate data and actionable insights into how to streamline their supply chains — and those needs are only increasing.

In an effort to provide more clarity into this relatively new industry, including the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” organizations should consider in relation to their overarching supply chain objectives, FourKites has released an informative buyer’s guide on How to Choose a Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platform (RTTVP). The guide gives a recognized industry leader’s informed perspective on what questions to ask and how to structure requests for proposals (RFPs) from prospective vendors to ensure that the platform they choose will fit their unique needs, business goals and challenges.

Do you need a real-time transportation visibility platform?

What is a RTTVP? At the most basic level, real-time transportation visibility platforms provide up-to-the-minute information on the location of shipments and an updated estimated time of arrival (ETA) on when the shipments will arrive at each milestone and their final destination.

So how can supply chain and logistics professionals determine if they need a RTTVP? Knowing what inefficiency costs to look for in the first place (like overstaffing and adding safety stock) goes a long way toward knowing the impact you can expect from such a platform. Understanding just how many teams and business processes can truly be impacted by RTTVP can be eye-opening for many organizations. Better visibility across your supply chain has far-reaching implications across departments, from warehouse operations to procurement to customer support.

How do you evaluate a provider’s track record?

Once you’ve decided you need a visibility platform, you can begin vetting potential vendors. Before you dig into the platform itself and its many bells and whistles, you’ll want to know more about the company to ensure you have faith in what they’ve done, what they can do, who they work with and their methodology. A history of innovation and ensuring customer success and collaboration lets you know you’re working with the right partner.

Vendors should be able to clearly demonstrate their value in a few key ways: the customers they work with, their company growth, their track record of customer success, the power of their network, and what informs their vision and the direction of their product(s). Everyone has experienced or heard stories of bold claims and broken promises from bad salespeople. Your favorite phrases in evaluating a visibility partner should be “prove it” and “show me the numbers.”

Which visibility features are most important to you?

At the end of the day, choosing software means checking the boxes for your must-haves and nice-to-haves. Before choosing a provider, we firmly believe that businesses should be fully informed of all available features and how they actually function. Whether it’s the supported modes of transportation, the level of customization in how you categorize and track shipments, the data that informs the provider’s ETAs, or how they reliably solicit tracking information from carriers — this is how you’ll be able to gauge the extent to which the platform can help. You’ll also want to understand which features come ready out of the box, versus those that require your own effort, analysis or additional integrations.

You know your company best. You know your track-and-trace and carrier communication processes. You know where your teams spend most of their time. And understanding the full breadth of visibility features to choose from will help you focus on those that are most important to improving your own unique supply chain.

How do you ensure success with setup and support?

So you’ve checked the boxes, and you’ve confirmed that the platform does what it says it will. But the relationship certainly shouldn’t end after the deal is signed. The right vendor will have sufficient resources to help you get up and running — available both during and after setup — and they’ll be able to point to quick and standardized support resolution times to ensure your ongoing success using the platform. Our guide will help direct you on the appropriate questions to ask when evaluating a provider’s onboarding and ongoing support structures.

How to you justify the investment in RTTVP?

After going through all of those proof points, it’s time to build your business case, and there are many different ways to do this. Hiring consultants isn’t always the most cost-effective, so ideally the vendors you consider should be able to speak to how they help with that — be it a consultative sales process, assisting in establishing key performance indicators (KPIs), or running benefits projections to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

We sincerely hope that our buyer’s guide, How to Choose a Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platform (RTTVP) is helpful in your evaluation, and we look forward to continuing to work with our customers to define the future of supply chain visibility. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions along your visibility journey.

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