One thing that continues to surprise me is how few ERP software systems handle delivery management. I’m not talking about small parcel shipping, like UPS or FedEx, and I’m not talking about LTL or full truck load carrier systems – most ERPs have marketplace offerings with multiple good choices for that. 

What I’m referring to is those businesses that actually deliver direct to their own customers using their own fleet of vehicles. These companies have really important requirements that aren’t normally addressed by the popular cloud ERP systems, but are totally interdependent on ERP data and processes. 

Think of these businesses as needing something I’ll call ‘Delivery Distribution’. A delivery distributor (they could also be a manufacturer) needs software to help them satisfy a whole range of business processes that must be completed in order to get product in the hands of their customers, whether B2B or B2C. 

Not everyone has the same needs (for instance, food delivery requirements are different from petroleum product delivery requirements), but most will have at least some need to manage one or more of route planning, picking and truck loading, signature capture at the time of delivery, payment acceptance, returns handling – even new order taking in some cases.  

There’s also a concept of route accounting that, surprise, surprise – most ERP systems cannot handle. 

So in the spirit of minimizing surprises (at least the bad ones!), let’s be sure to inquire from now on – if you’re working with a manufacturer or distributor company who is evaluating ERP, be sure to ask if they use their own trucks for delivery – and how the ERP is going to handle that.