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Information Technology's Role in Shipping Software Selection

Shipping Software goes beyond the warehouse and in today’s technology environments it is managed by most IT departments. Features of the shipping software are not the only deciding factor – hardware system requirements, other software, ease of installation and ongoing maintenance are just as important and often part of the discussion in the sales process.

Over the last decade shipping software has evolved from a simple application installed on a warehouse PC to an enterprise-wide solution managed by corporate IT departments. In the 90s we moved away from scale-based metering machines to DOS-based shipping software. In 2000, software technology began to carve the path for Windows stand-alone and client-server based applications. In today’s marketplace, shipping software is now more common to be a server-based application, many with programming APIs, and now is beginning to migrate to cloud-based/SaaS solutions.

This change has also caused a shift in responsibility over the shipping software. Back in earlier days the traffic or warehouse manager would install the shipping software and not have any need for IT support. Today it is much different with companies realizing the importance of the shipping software and involving many other departments of the organization including accounting, customer service, management, and IT in the purchasing process.

IT departments are more involved in purchasing decisions about shipping software – making sure that the network infrastructure can support the utilization of the software and that all hardware requirements and related software components are met. IT departments are responsible for installing, managing, maintaining, and supporting the software applications that are mission critical for a business’s success.

In some companies the IT department also oversees the OE/ERP/WMS/TMS* software and even gets involved in the integration and data exchange with the shipping software. The investment of time, resources and dollars on behalf of IT makes their opinion count.

Rather than living with the decisions of others, IT has taken a measure of ownership over purchasing software and often weighs in during the sales process on if it is the right fit or not. Part of this is a result of many failed projects that companies have encountered in the past. Before any software acquisition is made, asking the right questions upfront and involving the right people not only can save a company thousands of dollars but greatly minimizes the risk.

The bottom line is shipping software goes beyond the warehouse and if you are in the market for a shipping solution make sure to involve all the appropriate business entities including IT.

* OE (Order Entry), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), WMS (Warehouse Management System), TMS (Transportation Management System)