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The term Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model. The software is licensed on a subscription basis and is, typically, centrally hosted. SaaS is becoming synonymous with cloud computing though it predates it and can be applied to software that is not deployed in the Cloud! Any business that uses internet enabled devices can access route optimisation software with a SaaS model.
SaaS, Route Optimisation and Distribution Operations
SaaS gives service users greater flexibility when using applications. Before SaaS licencing would typically stipulate a fixed number or type of vehicles that are covered by the software contract or the number of users: Several software licences may have been required adding to the Total Cost of Ownership and reducing the Return on Investment. In the world of SaaS, these limiting factors are removed because users can access the service “on demand” thus ‘flexing’ the level of subscription – either by number of vehicles planned or number of planners used. The route planning software is effectively rented, and the necessary data and files saved in the cloud itself and not on individual computers. Route optimisation software supplies might stipulate a minimum contract term – 12, 24 or 36 months – but the client has the ability to ‘flex’ usage and manage costs.
Furthermore, customers can opt for additional functionality when required then stop using it (and paying for it) mid contract term. For instance, suppose that the vehicle routing softw
are utilised by a logistics company is primarily concerned with frequency planning of specialist loads to clients in the food industry but then have a short term requirement for multi-drop, dynamic route planning. With SaaS they can subscribe to the additional multi-drop, dynamic route planning functionality then stop using it all the while still using (and paying for) the frequency based solution.
There are other reasons why SaaS is advantageous to the transport, logistics and distribution industry:
Reduced Costs: If a software package can be rented for on a monthly basis this is going to cheaper than buying the same licence for a year. Service users may have the option to subscribe for less time than a month, or there may be rolling contracts where subscriptions can be stopped with 24hrs notice. Furthermore, there are no extra hardware costs because in SaaS the extra processing power needed to run the additional dynamic route planning software is provided by the internet service. This means the software is ready to use the moment the service user subscribes.
Ease of Use: There is not usually any need for service users to install any new hardware to use multi-drop route planning or route optimisation software to benefit from SaaS. This also applies to any scenarios where use needs to be scaled up in terms of data storage or updates which become available for the length of the contract. Such updates should incur no extra charge and be compatible with all applications employed by the logistics company.
Compatibility and Accessibility: SaaS applications are accessible from any web enabled device meaning that a driver can use a multi-drop route planner or route optimisation package from both multiple locations and devices. Therefore, information can be obtained and communicated in real time from any location that is connected to the internet.
In summary, tasks ranging from accounting and invoicing to route planning
and asset management, can be provided by a SaaS model. There are not normally any additional costs and SaaS applications are flexible enough to scale up or down as required and are accessible from any web enabled device.