It’s no secret that transport in Zambia can be a challenge to doing business – but using well-designed software can help to cut costs and journey times, and boost profitability of transport businesses.
Zambia’s transport costs are notoriously high, accounting for up to 60% of the cost of some commodities. There are several reasons for this: high fuel prices, long waits at border control points, bad driving habits and poor vehicle maintenance all contribute to the cost.
Understanding the true cost of your transportation business
As a manager or business owner, many of these costs are outside your control. The only way to protect your profitability is to increase your knowledge, so that you can know the true cost of your sales and be able to account for all the costs of a particular asset or trip. Right now many businesses in Zambia are doing this using a mixture of spreadsheets and rules of thumb to track diesel usage and other trip expenses. This often leads to costs being missed, and businesses suffer as a result.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to cut your transport costs and improve profitability by using modern software to collect, compile and analyse information from all areas of your business. This will enable you to make better decisions and manage operations more effectively.
What benefits does ERP bring to the transportation industry?
For example, the SAP Business One transport management module enables companies to accurately track fuel, truck expenses, driver expenses, distance covered and invoices paid for every trip that is made. Profit per trip and kilometre cost can then be calculated quickly and automatically. You can easily bill customers for extra items like waiting charges and load adjustments, with proof and backup documents.
High-quality transport management software can improve efficiency and profitability in other ways as well. For example, it can improve vehicle maintenance by forcing users to work through checklists, creating and tracking job cards and monitoring fuel consumption. It can even enable gate security staff to check electronically if a vehicle has been cleared to leave the workshop.
Most vehicles now have tracking devices fitted, and transportation management software can pull all of that information into a central system. That makes it possible to track each cargo every step of the way, and to quickly identify and fix problems.
Managing drivers can also become more efficient. Transport management software can automatically keep track of permit renewals and driver violations. It’s also possible to create risk profiles for every route, and keep them updated as conditions change. Each driver can then carry a printed report on the road so they can prepare for potential dangers.
This could all be done on paper, or in an Excel spreadsheet – but that always creates problems of accuracy. It also takes a lot longer, and it’s difficult to share information between different systems or offices. A business that uses a transportation management module within a larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can have all the information at its fingertips, all the time.
SAP Business One’s transport management module can be installed on mobile devices, and is designed to be easy to use even for people who don’t have extensive computer skills.
We all know that information is power – but information scattered in books and excel spreadsheets is wasted. Gathering all your business data into one system means you can make it work for you: information can be compared, analysed, interpreted and turned into knowledge that supports better decisions. SAP Business One helps to turn the promise of data into the reality of improved profitability.
Written by Mupota Muchelemba