Marine Operations Made Easy With Integrated Shipping Software Solutions

International shipping presents new challenges every day. With these challenges, ship operators are constantly finding better ways to simplify every aspect of daily operations, improve efficiency, and maximize profit. Good thing, these benefits, which seemed impossible to achieve 20 years ago, are now widely available with the development of integrated shipping software.

Many ship operators and carriers find themselves dealing with high bunker costs, high charter costs, high labor costs, expensive communication between vessels and poor tracking systems. If these issues are not addressed at the right time, shipping operations become prone to encounter high losses. When any of these happens, beside the financial impact the company risks damaging its reputation and eventually loses customers.

Shipping solutions software> enables ship operators and carriers to minimize expenses and gain significant cost benefits by reducing the amount of work involved in moving cargo across international borders. This is done by automating a number of tasks that are labor-intensive and time consuming processes such as redundant data entry, inventory, documentation, invoicing, etc…

Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to shipping operations, shipping software companies have developed different kinds of marine software solutions with their specific intended functions. Advanced software applications for shipping such as container management software allow merchants to easily control and manage container activities across multiple vessels. This enables operators to track the status and location of containers to minimize damage or loss.

Two other important kinds of marine solutions software are Voyage estimation software which calculates the length of time it will take for each shipment to reach its destination, and voyage accounting software which can be used run calculations of transaction costs. Using these solutions, operators can rate shop between carriers, compare routes, and identify commercial options with best revenue potential. Vessel operators use these software applications to compute bunker costs, chartering costs, port costs, canal fees, and load/discharge expenses, helping them to avoid expensive routes, evade risky procedures, and ensure that deliveries are always on time.

In addition, modern carriers are also using container tracking software which is used to show the exact locations of container. Container tracking software also records transaction details such as exact times certain shipments leave the port, transshipments, and load/discharge activities. Using this software helps ensure visibility and minimize loss of consignments.

To recapitulate, shipping solutions software is the key to success in modern-day shipping. It streamlines complex processes and removes bottlenecks throughout the shipment order cycle. Most shipping software can be integrated into existing platforms and customized to best serve specific purposes.

Nowadays, shipping software can be purchased off-the-shelf at rates so reasonable considering the benefits they offer. One challenge however is finding the right shipping software company or vendors which provide reliable products and support services not judging on price alone. With right choice, vessel operators can easily and quickly make back the difference in cost and enjoy the competitive advantage they get from investing wisely.

Why Choose Outsourced Over In-House Shipping Software Solution

Over the past two decades, automation of business processes has significantly increased in many industries including aviation, telecommunications, and banking. In shipping, automation has improved business efficiency by simplifying critical operations that require time and expertise. Nowadays, with increasing access to modern technology, it’s not unusual to find a small carrier using cheap off-the-shelf shipping software solutions to streamline and manage its core operations more efficiently. However, there are still quite a number of carriers who prefer bespoke IT systems despite the availability of much cheaper packaged solutions.

There are certain factors that motivate shipping business operators to develop their own IT systems in-house instead of buying cheaper off-the-shelf solutions. One of these is the advantage of having full control of the development processes which allows users to make specific improvements to the original platform as necessary. In addition, In-house platforms have been tailored to exact specifications, which is believed to deliver competitive advantage.

However, while bespoke systems offer full control of operation-specific features, they also require skilled IT staff and programmers to implement necessary upgrades. The fact that technology is rapidly changing means that IT platforms date and become unsupportable after a while. If a shipping business cannot keep up with the pace of change, it will find itself stuck with an obsolete technology which cannot support newer IT platforms. In addition, investing in a customized platform to automate only a single segment of shipping operation (e.g. a single segment of a terminal), is not worth the cost of the investment, which is significantly higher than buying off-the-shelf shipping software which can be customized to carry out various functions.

The following are some of the most prominent benefits of using off-the-shelf or packaged shipping software:

1. Price. Buying packaged software is calculated to be 10 to 50 times cheaper compared to developing an in-house IT system.

2. Flexibility. Modern packaged shipping software incorporate built-in switching options which allows operators to customize application to perform various tasks without doing any expensive reprogramming.

3. Upgrade options – Packaged software provides upgrade solutions to keep pace with fast changes in technology to make sure that users are always working from tried and tested, up-to-date, and well-supported platforms.

4. Guarantee. Customized or in-house systems do not offer test-runs prior to installation, and the end-product is not revealed until it has been delivered. Off-the-shelf solution allows you to use a system for a certain period to see if it delivers what you expect before you actually buy and install it into your existing IT infrastructure.

5. Efficiency. Packaged solutions are more cost-effective, require less resources, and deliver long-term solutions that can be customized to handle specific requirements of a shipping business.

While off-the-shelf shipping software offer a lot more benefits both in cost of investment and scope of features, accessibility to technology has significantly increased the number of software developers in the marketplace, many of which are not reputable. Carriers should be careful in choosing a supplier by checking their capability, reliability, and financial stability. After all, it’s not wise to buy from a company who’s not going to be around after two or three years, leaving you without support in a case of system failure.

Guidelines For Choosing the Right Shipping Software Solution

In the shipping industry, choosing a software solution is a crucial undertaking for long-term business growth and sustainability. It is therefore important for shipping companies to maneuver through the selection process with knowledge that not all shipping software vendors offer solutions that could address all their operational concerns.

In order to find the best software, shipping business leaders must always remember that acquiring new information technology should not just reduce costs but also assist the progress of processes to improve efficiency and gain significant business advantage. They must perform the following proactively when selecting the right shipping software solution:

Gather data. Choosing enterprise software solutions that do not meet a company’s operational requirements is a waste of time and resources. It is important to identify key issues prior to starting the selection process.

Develop a list of software requirements. This should be performed in order to find out which requirements solution providers respond to. Only then can a vendor short list be created to determine the candidates.

Request for information and prepare a proposal. Buying enterprise solutions demands scrutiny, piloting and comparison with other similar solutions. A collection of data from different departments of the company should be obtained. The information gathered should clearly define employee responsibilities, business processes, data and work flow for the vendors to identify which areas of operation the software solution is greatly and least advantageous to.

A proposal from the shipping company should be prepared to provide an orderly and sensible view of the business’ environment and ideals for automating vital business processes.

Create scripted scenarios. Conventional strategies for evaluating software have become insufficient for complex integrated systems. Scripted scenarios can be used by companies to help them with software selection. In a scripted scenario, businesses can present a unique challenge that they want to be addressed and resolved. Creating these scenarios provides the opportunity for the company to express their vision for their operational environment following the new software’s implementation.

Have the vendor perform a detailed demonstration. Companies should have vendors arrange a detailed product demonstration using the organization’s scenarios as basis. This should be done in order to avoid the vendor from running the demonstration freely and overlook vital issues that need to be addressed. Evaluating the software can be relatively simple if the software provider will perform a concise demonstration of their solution.

Choosing the most beneficial shipping software solution for liner businesses takes thorough analysis and proactive decision-making. Enterprise solutions can be extremely costly and companies do not want to waste both time and resources in implementing software applications that would fail. It helps businesses tremendously to utilize a system for evaluating and measuring software capabilities.