Freight broker software is derived from the larger field of trucking software. Large trucking companies began developing trucking software in the 1960’s when mainframe computers became more widely available and affordable. Large LTL carriers such as Roadway Express and Red Ball were pioneers in the field. It is a little known fact that the trucking industry created E.D.I. (electronic data interchange) during this time frame. Early trucking software was custom built and run on company mainframes at the large carriers. As with so many other fields, trucking software for small or medium sized companies did not begin to materialize until after the introduction of the I.B.M. personal computer in 1980. Trucking software can be as simple as software used to calculate point to point mileage or complex enough to manage virtually all functions of a trucking company or freight brokerage.
Freight broker software addresses two basic functional groups; dispatch operations and accounting. Much of the available freight broker software is sold with these functions as modules that can be purchased separately. Which modules are purchased is usually driven by the size of the broker looking for the software. Very small brokers can manage dispatch on paper. Accounting functions at this level are well served by software packages such as QuickBooks or Peachtree. Brokers that get to 20+ loads per month can usually begin to see the value of having one or more of the freight broker software modules.
Freight broker software designed for the accounting functions is the least likely of two to be offered as a stand alone product since it depends upon the other for data. Payable functions can be derived from dispatch operations data such as which carrier went where. Invoicing and receivables are also derived from dispatch operations data as in which customer sent what where. Freight broker software designed to integrate with the over the counter accounting packages such as QuickBooks can ease the transition for many small brokers.
Freight broker software designed for dispatch operations is the most likely of the functional groups to be offered as a stand-alone product. It is also arguably the most important of the two functional groups. It is the most important because it can have the greatest impact on customer service. Accounting functions are internal; dispatch operations touch every customer the broker has in one way or another. Freight brokers should recognize that this type of software can make the difference between success and failure. Dispatch operations is all about getting the right drivers with the right equipment in place to services the customers’ needs and take advantage of opportunities that arise. Managing those resources is important but the best dispatch software also gives dispatchers and managers tools to monitor work in progress and communicate effectively with customers.
The internet has given rise to two interesting new developments in the field of freight broker software; software as a service and networking as a new functional group. Software as a service is delivered via the internet by subscription and has the following advantages:
No large upfront investment as in traditional buying of software.
No new hardware costs. Your existing network, internet connection and browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer are all that are needed.
Pay as you go. This type of software is often available month to month without a contract.
Maintenance and upgrades handled at the web server with little or no bother to the user.
Networking as a functional group is a new development made possible by the internet. Dispatch software can now be extended onto the customers’ desktops. Brokers and shippers can collaborate to give and get the data that they need to get the job done. Customer service is greatly enhanced with true real time communications and the customer as a larger part of the process. TDNweb.com is an example of this new breed of dispatch operations software.